On the November 8 ballot voters should expect to see Proposition 1, a levy to invest in parks and open spaces. The Bellevue City Council approved this measure for the ballot after public input and receiving an updated Park & Open Space System Plan.
“The Chamber ran a poll prior to the council taking on the matter and gauged both what the public’s interests were in terms of types of park facilities they wanted in their communities, as well as a sense of what the community was willing to afford,” said Joe Fain, President and CEO of the Bellevue Chamber.
In addition to the poll, which was conducted in mid-June, the city council engaged in community outreach which included youth athletics and youth organizations, said Fain.
“Some of the things that folks shared was, number one, they really like the Bellevue park system,” said Fain. “It’s well run, it’s well maintained and the types of things that Bellevue’s parks systems offer are in line with what the public is interested in.”
If approved, Proposition 1 would preserve open space, greenways and wildlife corridors; develop trails, community and neighborhood parks; and invest in emerging sports opportunities and off-leash areas.
Furthermore, the measure would allow for the planning of major community facilities, like an aquatics and cross-cultural center; restore and develop waterfront parks, and protect water quality in lakes and streams; acquire and develop parks and open spaces in the Bel-Red and Wilburton areas; and maintain improvements that are consistent with Bellevue Park’s standards.
If Proposition 1 is approved, it will cost a homeowner twenty cents for $1,000 per assessed property value. For an owner of a $1 million value home, the proposition would cost about $200 per year for the next 9 years.
While the levy is broken into funding buckets, Fain believes there’s a desire to recognize important growth corridors, such as Bel-Red and Wilburton, and to maintain open space as well as park recreation facilities.
“Doing that at the front end of development rather than having that be something that comes as an afterthought after the buildings have already gone up, I think the sense is that folks want to get ahead of that and preserve some of those areas,” said Fain.
A funding bucket within the proposal, Bel-Red & Wilburton Park Acquisition & Development, would invest $10 million to acquire and develop parks within these population growth centers.
Another funding bucket is dedicated to Emerging Sports & Off-Leash areas, which would invest $10 million in park enhancements to support emerging sports, like pickleball and cricket. Fain said the growing demographic from East Asia, India and other regions where cricket is a prominent sport, brings excitement to the region.
“I think there is a real recognition that as our community grows and diversifies, that there are different areas that the public is interested in funding when it comes to parks and recreation,” said Fain.
This funding bucket would also increase access for off-leash dogs in the area.
“I don’t have any direct polling data on this, but I have done a very in-depth focus group with a 9lb miniature schnauzer-yorkie named Waffles,” said Fain, who said Waffles is taken to off-leash dog parks every weekend–the crowning achievement of her week.
“Those are things throughout the region–safe facilities for people’s dogs,” said Fain. “The demand for that has skyrocketed, and not just in Bellevue but all over the region.”
Other funding buckets on Proposition 1 include:
- Open Space, Greenways, Wildlife Corridors and Trails: a $20 million investment to acquire land that complements the existing parks system; increases public access to lake shores; preserves open spaces; protects water quality; and increases trail connectivity.
- Community Parks: a $5 million investment to expand on opportunities and allow for visitors to experience botanical displays and education programs, such as the development of the Bellevue Botanical Garden Wetland Sun Terrace.
- Neighborhood Park Development: a $20 million investment to acquire, plan and develop neighborhood parks with play equipment, open space and trail connections at locations to include Eastgate, Factoria and Ashwood Park.
- Recreation & Community Facilities: a $10 million investment to continue the phased development of waterfront access, including Meydenbauer Bay Park. This investment would also protect water quality of lakes and streams through restoration and refurbishment of waterfront parks.
If approved by voters, Proposition 1 would cost $4 million annually for maintenance and operations. While the proposition levy has a wide range of focus on outdoor spaces and facilities, Fain is most excited about emerging sports–specifically pickleball.
“I love pickleball,” said Fain. “The interest in sports–and specific sports–is really driven by what kids and families have access to in their own backyard, and so by creating more opportunities for all demographics and all ages, and all economic levels to get to know and love new sports, it just makes our region a stronger place.”
Click here to view the Proposition 1 levy.