The boundaries of the East County Park and Recreation District roughly follows the Monroe School District boundaries. (East County Park and Recreation District)

The boundaries of the East County Park and Recreation District roughly follows the Monroe School District boundaries. (East County Park and Recreation District)

After 20-year hiatus, East County Parks to ask for funding

A bond could fund improvements at the fairgrounds and Maltby park as well as a new park in Monroe.

MONROE — After scrimping by for nearly two decades without steady funding, the East County Park and Recreation District will ask voters to approve a $26.5 million bond issue in the Nov. 5 election.

The money would pay for park construction and expansion, fairgrounds improvement, trail development and playground replacement.

The taxing district roughly follows the boundaries of the Monroe School District and covers Monroe, Maltby and Echo Lake. It’s meant to fill a niche between the city and county parks systems.

The district’s last bond measure, passed in the late 1980s, was paid off in 2008. It funded construction of Maltby Park and Sky River Park in Monroe.

After a maintenance levy failed in 2000, the district has kept Maltby Park open by charging baseball and soccer teams for field time.

“Any kind of routine maintenance has been minimal at best,” district administrative assistant Susan Clayton said.

The district was created in 1970 to help build a municipal pool in Monroe, she said. A measure for the pool failed, but the district continued to exist.

Now, the district is joining forces with the city of Monroe and the county Parks and Recreation Department for the November bond.

“We’re maximizing the taxpayer money by cooperating,” Becky Hasart, finance director for Monroe, said.

The bond would spread taxes out throughout the district, rather than just the city. A first installment is anticipated to total $15.15 million and would cover projects constructed from 2020 to 2023. A second $11.25 installment would fund projects from 2022 to 2025.

All costs are based on 2019 assessed values.

Projects to be constructed between 2020 and 2023

Project Cost
Maltby Park comprehensive planning and design $1.3 million
Lake Tye athletic fields renovation $2.0 million
Neighborhood parks playground equipment replacement $1.5 million
North Hill (Monroe) Park acquisition and development $1.3 million
Fairgrounds improvement (spray pad/splash park, frontage improvements/perimeter trail, 34,000-square-foot building/community center) $9.0 million
Total $15.1 million

Projects to be constructed between 2022 and 2025

Project Cost
Maltby Park construction $7.1 million
North Hill (Monroe) Park construction $1.7 million
Chain Lake Trail development $2.5 million
Total $11.3 million

If passed, the bond would cost taxpayers 16 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

For a $500,000 home, that works out to $6.66 per month or $80 per year.

In 2023, the tax rate would increase to 26 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. That’s $10.83 per month or $130 per year for a $500,000 home.

The tax would then decrease by one to two cents per $1,000 of assessed value each year remaining in the bond’s 21-year lifespan.

In the final year of tax collection, the rate is estimated at 9 cents or $3.75 per month ($45 per year) for a $500,000 home.

By partnering with the county and city of Monroe, Clayton said the district will save money by sharing resources for maintenance.

Projects will include improvements to Maltby Park, renovations for athletic fields at Lake Tye, replacement of playground equipment at several neighborhood parks, land acquisition and development for North Hill Park in Monroe, improvements at the fairgrounds, and development of a trail at Chain Lake.

The Lake Tye athletic fields are currently natural grass, and can’t be used during rainy months, Monroe Parks and Recreation Director Mike Farrell said. The bond would replace the grass with synthetic turf and add lighting. The changes will extend the playing season and allow additional sports to use the fields, Farrell said.

Similar upgrades are slated for the fields at Maltby Park. In addition to installing turf and upgrading lighting, restrooms and field drainage will be improved. The parking lot will also be reconfigured and possibly expanded.

The bond would provide funding to acquire land and construct a park in the North Hill neighborhood of Monroe. It’s a project that’s been on the city’s wish list for years, Hasart said.

At the fairgrounds, plans include building a splash pad, improving the trail around the perimeter and building a 34,000 square foot community center.

If the bond passes, each taxpayer would have a project within three miles of where they live.

Have an opinion on the bond? The district is looking to form pro and con committees. Contact Susan Clayton at ecprd@cspmonroe.com or 360-794-5912 by July 26.

Julia-Grace Sanders: 425-339-3439; jgsanders@heraldnet.com.

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