In January, the Shoreline City Council voted to place a park improvement and park land acquisition bond measure on the April 27, 2021 special election ballot. If approved, Proposition 1 would replace the expiring $18,795,000 15-year park improvement bond. The new bonding measure would specifically allow the issuance of up to $38,500,000 of general obligation bonds maturing within 20 years to finance and refinance park improvement and acquisition projects, and levy annual excess property taxes to repay issued bonds.
The City already has in mind specific improvements and potential land acquisition for their park system. Plans have already been drawn up and they represent park improvements for underserved communities and areas not covered in the 2006 park bond measure. The plans emerge from work done by the City, most recently the 2017-2023 Parks, Recreation & Open Space Plan, the 2018 resident committee study on park improvements, and the park board’s recommendation to place a park acquisition measure on the ballot.
If the measure passes, five parks will receive major improvements, and three others will receive lesser improvements. Park land expansion would be planned for Brugger’s Bog, Rotary Park, and Paramount Open Space. To be determined is additional park land acquisition in light rail station areas, and other parts of the city in need of park space. Investment in public art would also be funded throughout the city.
If Proposition 1 is approved by Shoreline voters, parks receiving the most improvements will be:
- Briarcrest Community Park, which would be carved out of existing Hamlin Park, just north of Shorecrest High School. Proposed improvements include an enhanced entrance from 25th Ave, a new perimeter trail, new public gathering space, and conversion of one of two existing ballfields into new lawn, play area, splash pad, and picnic shelter.
- Brugger’s Bog’s proposed improvements would make amenities and the park in general more accessible. Due to its wetland nature, significant parts of the park flood for several months of the year. Improvements would move the playground to drier land, and construct a boardwalk over the stream and flood prone areas. A new multi-sports court, picnic shelter, restroom facility, perimeter trail, sidewalk, and additional landscaping are also proposed.
- Hillwood Park’s, just south of Einstein Middle School, promised improvements include replacing the multi-sport court, expanding the playground with adventure features, additional landscaping, a new splash pad, picnic shelter, and perimeter trail.
- James Keough Park’s proposed improvements include a new off-leash dog area, picnic shelter, perimeter trail, restroom facility, parking, and replaced play area equipment.
- Richmond Highlands Park’s proposed improvements include conversion of an existing ballfield into a new multi-sport court, law, and picnic shelter. New sidewalks, perimeter and sensory trails are also proposed. The park is also home to the Richmond Highlands Recreation Center, which programs for those with unique physical and mental challenges, so the existing playfield will also be replaced with a fully accessible one.
Proposition 1 would also fund improvements to Kruckeberg Botanic Garden, Ridgecrest Park, and Shoreview park. Improvements at Kruckeberg Botanic Gardens involve making facilities accessible to people of all abilities. Proposed at Ridgecrest Park are a new off-leash dog area, and new play area. Proposed at Shoreview Park are off-leash dog area upgrades, and conversion of the dirt soccer field to grass.
Notably, all park acquisition proposed by the City would go to designated high density clusters, helping ensure that the directed growth gets its more equal share of green space. Paramount Open Space park land acquisition would benefit the 145th Street Station subarea and Rotary Park land acquisition benefits the 185th Street Station subarea, other acquisitions in the station areas are also planned. Acquisition and improvements at Brugger’s Bog benefit the Ballinger Way NE commercial area. James Keough Park and Ridgecrest improvements directly help the Aurora Ave N corridor.
Costs and how to get the measure approved
The City of Shoreline estimates that the 20-year bond measure would increase the annual property tax bill of a median value $517,000 home in the city by $36 dollars. That represents a small jump from a $76 annual cost of the bond to $112 for a homeowner that owns a median valued home, an increase of just under 50%.
Getting the levy passed may prove challenging as the state constitution requires levies to receive 40% of the turnout of the last election, and to also pass with 60% yes votes. 35,231 Shoreline voters voted in the last general election, so at least 14,092 must vote and 8,456 must vote yes for the measure to be approved. In 2006, the measure was approved with only one precinct mostly voting against the park bond, so there isn’t much concern about voter support. As this special election comes after a record break general election with nearly 87% voter turnout in Shoreline, meeting the 40% turnout threshold might be more difficult in 2021. For context, 56% of Shoreline voters turned out for the 2005 general election before the May 2006 special election for the expiring park bond.
Shoreline has done outreach for Proposition 1 with several factual community presentations through February and March. The presentation is also on YouTube. This measure deserves more discussion to get it passed. New and improved park space would increase the amount of interesting and usable public space in the city. Especially with the apartment and housing boom coming to Shoreline’s up zoned clusters, more and improved park space would be needed to make the City more vibrant for its existing and new residents. I’m concerned that turnout might not be sufficient to pass the park measure, so if you are a voter registered in Shoreline please vote and encourage fellow Shoreline voters to turnout.
Shaun Kuo is a junior editor at The Urbanist and a recent graduate from the UW's Jackson School. He is a Seattle native that has lived in Wallingford, Northgate, and Lake Forest Park. He enjoys exploring the city by bus and foot.