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Parks levy on the ballot; Port invite to the table

 


The City of Edmonds will probably be putting a $2 million, three-year levy lid lift on the Nov. 5, 2013, ballot.

A Metropolitan Park District Park Levy Exploration Committee, comprising more than 40 citizens, recommended to the City Council to “take action now” to put the levy on the ballot.

Committee representatives Phil Lovell and Bruce Wittenberg told the council the levy would restore the cuts to parks from the previous two years.

If approved as proposed, the levy would cost residents 36 cents per $1,000 home valuation.

A home valued at $350,000 would pay $10 per month, a home valued at $400,000 would pay $12 per month.

The levy would also “free up” $750,000 in REET funds (Real Estate Excise Tax) that could be used for paving streets.

Examples of what will be done with the funds include restoring monies to the flower program, operations and capital funds for Yost Pool, the cemetery, restoring the Beach Ranger program and seasonal maintenance.

“This is a well put together process,” councilmember Strom Peterson said. “I like that money will also be put away for street overlays.

“If we want to change our lives, we have to put away for that.”

The council voted 5 -2 to pass the resolution, which only signifies intention to pass. The final bill will come back soon for a vote.

“This gives us time to get feedback from citizens on how they feel,” Peterson said.

Council also made a decision on incorporating the Harbor Square Master Plan into the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

Council President Lora Petso suggested council “end this process and start a new one soon, possibly in June.”

Councilmember Diane Buckshnis asked City Attorney Jeff Taraday if there was a legal reason to stop the process and start again, as Petso suggested. Buckshnis would prefer to continue the process than stop and start anew.

“There are three ways the council can proceed,” Taraday said. “Petso’s suggestion (stop and start new), Buckshnis suggestion (proceed) or vote to end the process for good.

“Council hasn’t approved anything yet,” he said. “We don’t yet know where the City Council stands on Harbor Square. There is no City Council plan yet.”

Councilmember Joan Bloom argued that starting new discussions would guarantee a full process, involving planning board review and council review.

“It would be a clean process,” she said.

Councilmember Frank Yamamoto disagreed.

“That would require hearings again that we’ve already had,” he said. “We are the ones who decided on the changes; let’s move forward and make those changes.”

Councilmember Peterson didn’t like the term “clean process.”

“The implication that the process is somehow unclean is incredibly insulting to the Port, the planning board and the process itself,” he said. “The idea that we’ll somehow come out with a clean process... it’s the same process.”

Councilmember Buckshnis, again making her case, said, “We’ve done a really good job of moving this forward. There will be significant changes, and it will go back to the planning board, but we need to move forward.”

Bloom disagreed.

“We can better move forward if we start new,” she said. “The Port withdrew their proposal.

“This acknowledges that. It has nothing to do with disrespect. I think this is the most respectful way.”

“I didn’t mean any disrespect,” Petso said. “But citizens don’t understand where we are (in the process.) We are legally in the right to start anew.”

Councilmember Adrienne Fraley-Monillas had a different view.

“I think we can get to this in a much simpler fashion,” she said. “I think the first step should be sitting at a table with the Port.

“They don’t have to settle for anything we want. They own the property.”

Fraley-Monillas said she’d like to get a small group of councilors together and have a facilitated discussion on “what we agree and disagree on.”

Petso suggested a group of three council members with widely differing views, some staff, some Port representatives and representatives from the planning board.

“I think that’s an excellent idea,” Peterson said. “The Port may have pulled their plan, but they still own the property.”

Having the Port at the table would be a step in the right direction,” councilmember Kristiana Johnson said.

No decisions were made on who would attend the meeting.

 

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