Parks district to seek voter support for levy

Published on Wed, Sep 7, 2011 by By Jeremy Schwartz

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Residents of Blaine and Birch Bay will once again get the chance to vote on the future of the local parks district this November.

Northwest Parks and Recreation District 2 commissioners have decided to try again for a levy that will raise about $350,000 over the next six years, parks and recreation commission president Ted Morris said.

 The levy will appear on the November 8 general election ballot of every registered voter living in the parks district, which shares its borders with the Blaine school district minus Point Roberts.

The levy would cost 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or $20 annually on a $200,000 home, Morris explained. Approximately $375,000 per year from the previous levy, which expired two years ago, paid for the renovations to the activity center at Bay Horizon Park, the construction of the playground at Bay Horizon and the addition of the kayak launch at Dakota Creek.

 “I’m happy to put my time into [the levy],” Morris said.

In the 2010 general election, the same parks and recreation levy failed by 0.5 percent, or just a few hundred votes, Morris said. Levies need a supermajority of 60 percent of the vote or greater to pass.

 If this year’s levy gains voters’ approval, Morris said the district will use the money to work on the long-planned trail between Blaine and Birch Bay.

The majority of the trail has been planned, and the district is now considering the best way to route the trail through a few forested areas.

 “For the price of less than a large pizza over a year, we can have trails built,” Morris said.

Last year’s general election results showed that a considerable number of Blaine and Birch Bay residents still do not know what the Northwest Parks and Recreation District 2 is, Morris explained.

 The district’s name seems to suggest it encompasses a larger area than it actually borders, but Morris wants to make clear the levy money will stay in Blaine and Birch Bay.

To remedy this, Morris said this year’s pro-levy yard signs stress the levy money will go to support parks in Blaine and Birch Bay.

 Morris said district commissioners have also been in contact with the two communities’ chambers of commerce to stress how important quality parks are to tourism.

Morris said he hopes the district’s recent improvements to Bay Horizon Park show the voting public how efficiently the district spends its money.

 In addition to the trail connecting Blaine and Birch Bay, district commissioners are also planning on establishing sports fields and an off-leash dog park in Birch Bay.

The parks and recreation district will host two meetings in the coming weeks to gather input from community members on what they want from their district.

 The first will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 22 at the Blaine Senior Center while the second will be held at the same time on September 29 at the Birch Bay activity center in Bay Horizon Park.

The deadline for registering to vote online or by mail for the November 8 general election is October 10. Ballots for the general elections will be mailed out October 21.