I write in response to the opinion piece by John Fox and Carolee Colter (“Park Districts Not Solution to Ailing System, Nov. 12) about the possibility of voters approving a park district for Seattle. As a member of (though not speaking for) the Parks Legacy Plan Citizen’s Advisory Committee, I take issue with the authors’ characterization of the group as “insiders” who are “already committed” to a parks district.
The authors question the integrity and independence of these citizen volunteers. Impugning the public process is a lazy way to suggest that whatever comes out of that process is tainted. The committee is made up of a very diverse group of citizens who are contributing an enormous amount of their time to develop recommendations about what a Parks ballot measure might fund, how large it should be and what funding mechanism makes the most sense. There has been and will continue to be an extraordinary amount of public input.
The committee has one agenda: well-cared-for parks, ballfields, recreation centers, trails and natural areas that serve a growing and increasingly diverse city. I would ask the authors to pay closer attention to the truly civil, thoughtful and open-minded public discussions the committee has been conducting for the last several months.
And I ask all readers to visit the Parks Department Legacy Committee webpage (www.seattle.gov/parks/legacy/committee.htm) for all records of past meetings and a schedule of future meetings and opportunities for input. Every meeting and document informing this process is public.
As for a Metropolitan Parks District (MPD), the authors’ insinuation that the fix is in and that committee discussions “are dominated by analysis of that option and how to sell it to voters” is demonstrably false. Committee meeting minutes show that members are very much in a learning phase about an MPD — as well as various kinds of levies — that might meet the needs of our evolving parks system. And the statement that “nearly all of our City Council members back creation of the MPD” would come as a real surprise to actual council members.
The Parks Legacy Committee, Parks staff, Parks Board of Commissioners, City Council, Mayor’s Office and all the members of the public who are already participating in the discussion are working together to arrive at the right solutions for our remarkable park system. Whatever case the authors may want to make against a MPD is deeply undercut by their allegations that there is some predetermined agenda backed by a “coterie of corporate and other well-heeled elites.”
While I appreciate the authors’ participation in the discussion, I urge them to be respectful of the good intentions — and critical faculties — of everyone else involved.
Seattle Parks Foundation