Urban Politics #97: Parks Levy Oversight Committee


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By City Councilmember Nick Licata.

Urban Politics (UP) blends my insights and information on current public policy developments and personal experiences with the intent of helping citizens shape Seattle’s future.

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Parks Levy Oversight Committee

As Seattle Parks and Recreation gears up to implement the levy approved by Seattle voters on November 7, a first priority is formation of a Citizens Oversight Committee to review and make recommendations on expenditures from the Pro Parks Levy fund which comes from the passage of the levy last month.

The Pro Parks Levy was developed by the Pro Parks Citizens Committee which was convened at the request of Mayor Schell and Council Member Nick Licata, Parks Superintendent Ken Bounds and Board of Park Commissioner Margaret Ceis. It was comprised of 26 Seattle citizens with varied backgrounds and active involvement in community and parks and recreation issues. The group met twice monthly for 10 months to discuss and develop recommendations on a funding mechanism and a package of projects.

The $198.2 million Pro Parks 2000 Levy includes more than 100 new or improved park opportunities in every section of the city, to help ensure that our parks remain accessible to all Seattle residents, no matter what their neighborhood. Projects funded by the levy include green space acquisition and preservation, habitat restoration, new playfields and community gardens, new neighborhood parks, trails, and improvements at citywide treasures such as the Arboretum and Woodland Park Zoo.

The Oversight Committee will meet bi-monthly with the Superintendent or his/her designee, beginning in the calendar quarter following the successful passage of the levy lid lift, unless changed by a majority of the Committee. Members shall serve with out pay, but may be reimbursed their expenses, including payments for child care while attending meetings.

The Oversight Committee shall consist of sixteen (16) members: six (6) residents of the City representing geographic diversity in a manner to be determined by the City Council by resolution, one (1) member of the Board of Park Commissioners, initially four (4) PRO Parks 2000 Citizens’ Planning Committee members, and the balance to include representation from the diverse constituencies served by and interested in the projects and programs to be funded by the additional taxes raised through this levy lid lift. The Department of Parks and Recreation shall provide staff and logistical support to the Committee. It shall continue in existence through December 31, 2008, and thereafter if so provided by ordinance

The Oversight Committee will adopt criteria for making its recommendations concerning the Acquisition and Development Opportunity Fund category and will make recommendations to the Superintendent, Mayor, and City Council.

The Acquisition and Development Opportunity Fund of $10 million would fund new acquisition and development projects identified by neighborhood groups, with priority given to projects in areas presently underserved as defined in the Seattle Parks and Recreation Plan 2000, projects in areas growing in population, and projects in the city’s Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Areas. The Parks and Green Spaces Levy Oversight Committee would establish additional criteria to guide its recommendations to the Superintendent of Parks, the Mayor and City Council for use of this money.

Specific responsibilities of the Committee shall include but not be limited to:

Establish criteria and an application process, and make recommendations on allocations from the

Make recommendations for projects from the Acquisition and Development Opportunity Fund.

Advise upon expenditures and allocations for the following year.

Review expenditure of levy proceeds and interest earnings.

Provide annual reports to Mayor and City Council on progress of expenditures and prepare a mid-point report to the citizens of Seattle.

Provide final report at end of 8-year levy cycle detailing accomplishments of levy expenditures and making recommendations for future funding of parks, recreation, open space, boulevards, trails, athletic fields, Woodland Park Zoo and neighborhood park development

Informational Meeting Scheduled

On Thursday, December 14, an informational meeting will be offered for those who may be interested in applying for the committee. The meeting will be held from 6:00 to 7:00 PM, in the Park Board Room, 100 Dexter Avenue North. (Note: This meeting is for informational purposes only, and attendance is optional.)

Applications are available for Seattle residents who are interested in serving on the oversight committee. To receive an application packet, please contact Catherine Anstett at 615-0386, or by e-mail at catherine.anstett@seattle.gov. The forms and information are also available online at the Parks and Recreation website, www.seattle.gov/parks/, and click on “Pro Parks Levy.”

If you are not interested in serving on the committee but would like to receive committee notices and agendas, or any additional information about the Oversight Committee or the application and selection process also contact Catherine Anstett.

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