County council’s park plan will improve life for some

The Snohomish County Council is playing catch-up on parks, which should improve the quality of life for some residents.

The council made the right choice last week in adopting a $5 million plan for financing park acquisitions in rapidly developing neighborhoods. The money will be used to purchase land for small parks of about five acres in urban growth areas.

In adopting its budget for next year, the council devised a plan to borrow money for the park purchases, as well as for detailed plans to manage water runoff. Although Council Member Gary Nelson voiced reasonable concerns about the lack of a plan for what parks will be added, the council had good reason to move ahead quickly. Urban growth areas, particularly in southwest Snohomish County, have been overwhelmed by development in recent years.

Borrowing money is fully justified because the parks will be a long-term investment, which will benefit the taxpayers who pay off the bonds in the future. In the meantime, the council’s plan offers a hope of beginning to recover some of the quality of life that is being lost or threatened amid rapid changes.

In some neighborhoods, in fact, the choice is coming down to a now-or-never situation. As land is sold for development in the future, the opportunities to create parks will disappear.

With the budget approved, the council must move quickly to determine which properties to purchase. Council member Dave Somers, an advocate of the plan, said the council hopes to review sites suggested by the public and move ahead with purchases during the coming year.

The council plan will fall far short of fully answering park needs in the urban growth areas. The money won’t cover development of any significant recreational facilities. The purchases, however, will begin to provide some of the outdoor access expected by people in the newly developing areas. That’s a welcome step forward. If this plan also signals a more creative and determined focus on the county’s infrastructure needs, including roads, the council will be moving in a very good direction indeed.

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