Time to Vote on Park District

By John ServaisOn Feb 09, 2013

For those of us living on the south side of Bellingham and voting for or against the formation of a mini Metropolitian Park District, we have only a couple days to vote. Our ballots should be in the mail by Monday, Feb 11, at the latest. Otherwise, we risk not getting it date stamped in time by our U.S. Postal Service. Mailing on Tuesday is risky.

The proponents are running a very smart campaign. They are avoiding public discussion of the merits, facts and issues of their proposal, instead focusing on door belling, yard signs and direct mail postcards. The core of their steering committee and the most active supporters have mostly gone silent. When they do speak or write it is emotional and beseeching that we must not lose this priceless natural area. They are counting on turning out the “yes” vote and feel the sympathy of south side residents is on their side - so long as the facts are not discussed.

This website has tried to bring out the pros and cons. When the core proponents of the steering committee asked me in early January to not speak out, I agreed with the condition that they would participate in an online discussion. At first, they said they would, but later revised that by saying they needed to “discuss” it. With the exception of one statement from Dan Remsen, they have not addressed the issues. They have cursed me, and one threatened to sue me for defamation when I suggested part of their motivation for the park district was to increase their own residential property values.

Gentle reader, some of that land along Chuckanut Drive is perfect for housing - but it borders the residences of the core supporters and they do not want any new homes near theirs. I have walked it with a planner. No wetland nor stream. Very gentle slope that is far, far less than Briza across the street where some of the most impassioned supporters live in homes built on very steep unstable hillsides. The area has some fine trees that can be left in any development.

The city owns this land now and can set its own conditions for development. Twenty lots could be platted easily and they would be the same size or larger than Briza, and more valuable. Briza lots are valued between $200,000 to over $300,000. The city could raise the $3.2 million and could pay off the loan to itself.

Some core proponents of the park district have built homes inside the area where they want only park. Their residences will have park on three sides of their property. Again, they built their houses in the 1990s, after the effort to save this from development. Their homes are on wetter and steeper land than the dry gentle land along Chuckanut Drive. They have not told you that in their literature and website and there is a special irony in that.

Will any of these facts and opinions be challenged? Not in any categorical manner. The proponents know the facts are against their park district and prefer to simply get out the vote by telling people that the forest will be lost and this is our last chance to save Chuckanut Ridge.

I was among the first to try and save the critical areas of Chuckanut Ridge. Select the Category “Chuckanut Ridge” for 50 articles going back to 1996. It was then that NWCitizen busted the Herald for printing false information that favored the development of over 1,300 housing units in the critical areas. Here are three articles from 1996. We have prevented the bad development. We should allow the modest good development.

In my opinion, after all these years of using NWCitizen to help save the critical lands from development, about 8 of the 82 acres just bought by the city are ideal for high-end homes. They are right along Chuckanut Drive. Their sale and develpment can easily pay off the loan - and not hurt the preservation of the forest, wetlands, trails and park. Our mayor, Kelli Linville, is correct is designating a small portion for possible development.

Please vote NO on the metro park Issue. And also vote for Anna Williams in case it passes.

About John Servais

Writers • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

Delaine Clizbe

Feb 09, 2013

John, thank you for your work on this!

Folks may find this new potential legislation interesting:

House Bill 1749: Modifying metropolitan park district property tax levies to assist park districts with populations less than twenty thousand
Introduced by Rep. Jan Angel (R) on February 7, 2013, provides that any metropolitan park district with a population of twenty thousand or less may submit a ballot proposition to voters of the district authorizing the protection of the district’s tax levy from prorationing.
http://www.washingtonvotes.org/Legislation.aspx?ID=153594

How easily the rules can change!

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Wendy Harris

Feb 12, 2013

John, proponents did not avoid discussion of the issues, they just avoided NW Citizen.  There is a difference. You can not say that you provided a open forum for both sides, when you took a strong, biased and personal interest in the issue and attacked arguments by the proponents, but not the opponents.

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