BELLINGHAM - A total of 1,664 signatures were turned in to the Whatcom County Auditor's Office for a ballot measure that would create a metropolitan park district to repay part of the cost of acquiring Chuckanut Ridge on the south side.
The citizens' coalition working on the effort needed 1,111 valid signatures from voters within the proposed district to qualify for the February ballot.
The auditor's office will notify the group Oct. 15 to 17 whether there are enough valid signatures.
Members had set a goal of gathering 1,400 signatures to provide a cushion against invalid signatures, according to Robyn du Pre, a member of the steering committee working to put the measure on the ballot.
"We are so thrilled with the response of voters to this proposal. The vast majority of people we talked with wanted to sign the petition," du Pre said in an email interview. "We think that this indicates what an important property this is for south-side residents."
If enough valid signatures are gathered, voters in the district would decide whether to form the Chuckanut Community Forest Park District and elect five commissioners who, in turn, would raise property taxes within the district to generate more than $3.2 million.
The money would repay a loan of the same amount, plus interest, from the city Greenways endowment fund that helped pay the $8.2 million price tag for the city's purchase of the 82-acre Chuckanut Ridge, also known as the Hundred Acre Wood, in August 2011.
Property owners in the district would pay 28 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. The owner of a $300,000 home, for example, would pay $84 a year.
The district's boundaries, roughly, would encompass southwest Bellingham - south of Western Washington University and west of Interstate 5 to the water.
It would exist for no more than 10 years.
Reach KIE RELYEA at email@example.com or call 715-2234.