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City Council passes $3.7 million bond for Civic Park

More money in debt service than for the bond itself


August 15, 2019

Almost four years after the City of Edmonds acquired Civic Center Playfield from the Edmonds School District – after leasing the property for 40 years – the park’s transformation into an 8-acre jewel in the heart of town is closer to reality after councilmembers voted to issue a $3.7 million bond to be paid over 20 years.

Make sure you get the name right: It’s now Civic Park.

It’s never going to be as grand as Central Park, but the future park – in the City’s comprehensive plan since the country’s Bicentennial – will certainly be an upgrade from the patch of sometimes muddy, frequently dusty field and crumbling grandstand – torn down last year – that was home to the glory days of Edmonds High School Tigers football.

Under the purchase and sales agreement, the City agreed to purchase Civic Field for $1.9 million from the Edmonds School District with the help of state and county funding.

With a 50 percent matching grant from the Washington State Recreation Conservation Office for up to $1 million, and a $500,000 grant from Snohomish Conservation Futures, the City budgeted $400,000 for the total $1.9 million acquisition.

Civic Park's design includes the current skate park, plus a multiuse lawn, playground, jogging/walking path, petanque grove, and plaza, among other features. It will also continue to be – at least at this point – home to the Boys & Girls Club.

Walker Macy, a landscape architecture and urban design firm, is leading the Civic Park planning.

The park’s estimated cost is $12.6 million, with $8.8 million coming from City funds. Of that $8.8 million, $3.3 million is from grants, including $1.5 million from the Hazel Miller Foundation, and $450,000 over three years from Snohomish County and Washington state.

With the $3.7 million bond comes $4.88 million in debt service.

Councilmember Kristiana Johnson had trouble with the amount, saying she was uncomfortable that the City would be paying more money in debt service than for the bond itself.

Council President Adrienne Fraley-Monillas said she also had an issue with the high cost of the debt service. She prefers the City use a bond for options such as facilities management upgrades.

“A park is not a priority compared to a fire station, or a building, or any of the other problems we have,” she said.

Both Fraley-Monillas and Johnson voted against the bond. Diane Buckshnis, Neil Tibbott, Thomas Mesaros, Mike Nelson, and Dave Teitzel voted for it.

Councilmembers Buckshnis and Teitzel thought $244,000 was a good number to pay for annual debt service.

Buckshnis said that $244,000 at today’s value would not be the same as its value in 20 years.

Teitzel agrees, saying it’s important to consider that interest rates are now at low levels.

“This could be an asset for the city,” he said. “Future generations are going to enjoy it. And I do believe future generations should pay a part of the cost of this.”

There are issues, of course, among them the increased need and the high water table on site, which requires onsite infiltration. The City should expect cost overruns at some point, as most projects inevitably find themselves with unanticipated, added expenses difficult to vote against after they’re already underway.

The current goal is to secure a contractor in early 2020 and begin construction shortly after.

– Beacon reporter Cheryl Aarnio contributed to this story.


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