We have over 60 years in city parks departments with over 30 years as Bellingham Parks and Recreation directors. The formation of Chuckanut Community Forest Park District is not a proposal we support.
Paying off a political debt is not the purpose for establishing an independent junior taxing district such as the park district. We already have a citizen City Parks Board and separate Greenway Committee. They were not consulted on this property purchase and loan, or on the Park District proposal. The Chuckanut property, acquired at over $8.2 million, is the most expense city park land ever purchased.
This proposal sets poor public policy in developing special interest tax districts within our city. The location of community parks based upon a neighborhood's ability to pay versus need is not a good community goal. This issue may have a negative impact on future park, greenway or waterfront proposals.
Good folks, trying to fix a future problem, are supporting this issue. Their concern of the city selling a portion of the property to pay the debt can be addressed by regulations that would still protect the sensitive areas within the development. An issue against development in their backyard shouldn't be a reason for funding a Municipal Park District.
Support your existing city parks. Do not establish a new layer of government. Vote no on the Chuckanut Park District.
Byron Elmendorf and Paul Leuthold