By guest writer Phyllis McKee. She owns commercial property within the district and has been involed in Fairhaven affairs for almost 40 years.
Why vote NO on Proposition #1, the Metropolitan Park District proposed for South Bellingham?
In one move, how could only those people owning property in south Bellingham (I-5 to the bay & city limits to South Hill) find themselves obligated to pick up the tab for a City-wide loan not due until 2017 and create an entity with the authority to, amongst other things, condemn property (and the property does not even need to be within the area being taxed), pay a wide-range of expenses, including paying its commissioners, and tax those same property owners forever, yet remain separate from and independent of City oversight or citizen vote? Simple … by those Southside voters failing to recognize the Trojan Horse being pushed up to their doors and thereby failing to vote NO on Metropolitan Parks Proposition 1 on 2/12. (Ballots are being delivered today and Monday.)
The two flawed assumptions are that it is the right and responsibility of Southside property owners to pay a debt that belongs to the entire City, and secondly, that the Metro-Park model is the best and only method to save the 100 acre/Chuckanut woods. Neither is correct and both should be questioned. Look behind the curtain before approving such action as getting that genie back in the bottle would be impossible. As well-meaning as the Proponents may appear to be, to expect future commissioners to be bound by promises being made now is neither binding nor realistic. The threat to develop all/part of the woods is a blatant scare-tactic and if proposed at all would be challenged by the citizenry.
Proponents insist that the taxation will be limited to $0.28 per $1000 valuation, for only 10 years, and then disband, but, but the one-size-fits-all tool they are using to create the Metropolitan Park District is a legal entity (like a corporation or LLC), a junior taxing district that has broad built-in authority including the ability to tax at $0.75/$1000 forever to support future goals. Yes, future goals that could have little or nothing to do with woods, and what of the unresolved, over-lapping or conflicting authority with the existing City Parks branch of government? None of this has even been addressed. (Google Metropolitan Park District for some interesting, hair-raising reading.)
Furthermore, voting yes does not save the 100 acre woods … the biggest battle cry of the Proponents. The 100 Acre Woods is already saved; it is already owned by the City. All this fuss is over some internal loan the City Council made to purchase the property in the first place. An internal loan that does not need to be paid back until December of 2017 … giving plenty of time to come up with more creative solutions than sticking a limited group of property owners with the bill. Some contend that this is just a financial or economic vehicle/move, or some such thing. Let me see. Well, I guess it could be seen that way, just as me stepping up out of the blue to pay off your maxed out credit card might be seen as a financial or economic move. By voting YES (or as importantly, failing to vote NO), those Southsiders are saying to Council, ‘here, let us take care of that for you so you do not have to worry about it’ when they should be saying ‘you created it, fix it’, and then keeping an eye on the solutions proposed.
Please understand that failure to vote at all just means fewer yes votes needed to pass. Furthermore, please know that with (I believe) only three exceptions, those five Commissioners who will run the show, for all practical purposes the majority of those running and impossible to avoid, have been hand-picked by the Pro-side and will appear on the same ballot with the proposition.