Lake Stevens supports creating two new parks

By KATHY KORENGEL

Herald Writer

LAKE STEVENS — Two new parks may be built just east of the city next year. And the city council has passed a resolution that may give residents a say in how to fund them.

The council supports creation of a park and recreation service area that would follow the boundaries of the Lake Stevens School District. The resolution may lead to a bond measure to help fund proposed 40-acre and 12-acre parks on county land just east of Machias Road. The parks would provide nine new sports fields.

The council approved the resolution but stopped short of backing a last-minute proposal for a city-run skate park and youth center, although the resolution still supports funding for those projects. The city needed to approve the resolution before the Snohomish County Council can consider putting a bond measure before voters.

The city council "did not have enough information to feel comfortable supporting a youth center," Dave O’Leary, city administrator, said of the council’s decision. "They want more information, so we’ll go out and develop it for them."

Jim Mitchell, a longtime resident, urged the city to add funding for a youth center and skate park to the resolution, which only had asked for funding for the two parks. Mitchell said he was glad the council decided to support bonds for those projects, but thought the resolution wasn’t very strong.

Mitchell, a former state legislator, said he asked for the changes because the city is one of the few in the area with no youth center. He also said he supports a youth center because it could benefit all youths, not just those who play sports.

John Huber, a member of the Lake Stevens Junior Athletic Association who has been pushing for new ball fields for 10 years, said he was happy with the council’s decision but frustrated that the city had "attached strings" to the original resolution.

The motivation for the resolution originally came from the association. The organization serves more than 2,000 youths ages 6 to 18, said Huber, who is parks representative for the organization. It offers baseball, basketball, soccer and cheerleading.

To accommodate games, the association already borrows school fields and sometimes needs to play games late at night, Huber said. "We want our children home by 9 p.m.," he said.

The Snohomish County Parks Department had offered the association the use of the two proposed park sites that the county owns.

The master plan for the parks includes three baseball fields, four football/soccer fields, two basketball courts and a picnic area on the 40-acre site. The smaller 12-acre site would have a ball field, trail and wetlands viewing area.

In addition, the department has offered $3 million for site development, said Marc Krandel, park planning supervisor with the Snohomish County Parks and Recreation Department.

The department has estimated it will take another $4 million to finish the larger park, and $3 million more to build the smaller park, Krandel said.

With or without additional funding, the county plans to break ground on the larger park next summer, and if no further funds become available, to put in only a few fields. Restrooms, lighting and a concession stand, as well as development of the smaller park, would have to wait for further funding.

A possible bond measure is actually several steps off, Krandel said, although the association hopes to bring a measure to voters by February.

Krandel estimated $4 million in bonds would add about 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or $50 per year, to the property taxes on a $200,000 house. A $7 million bond would add another 45 cents of property tax per $1,000 of assessed value, or $90 per year, for $200,000 homes in the recreation service area.

Krandel said he will meet with the local fire district to seek its approval of the new service area. The school district has already approved the service area. But the county council would have to put creation of a new service area before the voters.

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