By Greg Wingard and James Schroeder, for the Kent Reporter
South King County residents enjoy special parks and open spaces where our kids can learn and grow outdoors. We should be leaders in the nation by showing how an urban county can maintain a healthy environment and high quality of life. That is why we support King County Proposition 1 in the Aug. 6 primary election.
This measure will fund maintenance and upgrades to playground equipment and ballfields in every community in the county. It also supports the county’s open spaces, places we can access today – such as the Green River Natural Area – as well as newly protected forests and river corridors and miles of new trails.
We are particularly excited that King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove helped to include in Proposition 1 a new River Corridor Grant program, a first-of-its-kind approach at the county level. This program would support projects designed to reduce flood risk, improve habitat and account for the needs of working agricultural lands.
The county-level grant program for floodplains would help communities access state and federal funding, including from Washington’s Floodplains by Design program, which has seen great on-the-ground success and has the support of our organizations.
Floodplains by Design has previously funded projects on the Middle Green River in the Porter Levee Natural Area. This year, the Legislature came up just short of funding the program to include King County’s Lones Levee Setback and Floodplain Restoration project, located within the Green River Natural Area. The project would improve flood and erosion protection for private property, replace failing levees sooner, reduce farmland flooding, and help Green River Chinook salmon and steelhead.
Proposition 1 replaces an expiring levy and would raise millions of dollars for King County’s parks, trails, and open space. The property tax would cost about $7.60 per month for the owner of a home valued at $500,000 ($2.25 more per month than the expiring levy). Proposition 1 also partially exempts families and individuals living on a fixed income, such as low-income seniors, veterans with disabilities, and others with certain financial burdens. The measure was written to equitably expand access to parks, especially for residents of low-income neighborhoods.
This is an investment in South King County’s future, and now more than ever we need to make sure we preserve our green spaces to protect public health and well-being as our region grows and changes.
Join us in protecting our parks and rivers and vote yes on King County Proposition 1 by Aug. 6.
Greg Wingard is president president of the Green River Coalition, works with an intern program at Green River College and lives in Covington. James Schroeder is the director of Conservation for the Nature Conservancy in Washington.