An ad-hoc group called Citizens’ Committee for Key Peninsula Parks filed a notice of intention with the Pierce County Boundary Review Board in January to form a metropolitan park district on the Key Peninsula. The committee held its first organizational meeting on Jan. 21 and is planning another one in February.
The notice started the clock ticking for a 45-day review period toward a special election in the spring. With the authorization of the Boundary Review Board, the Pierce County Council could initiate a petition for election to be scheduled by May 18.
“This is a win-win situation,” said Ben Thompson, chairman of the metropolitan park district formation committee. “This will not create a new tax. This is an election to validate the entitlement of the Key Peninsula to county funds that are already there.”
The failure of the special levy last year left the Key Peninsula Park and Recreation District in a financial dilemma, with insufficient funds for operation and maintenance. Without the funding available through a metro park district, the KPPRD will have to curtail services, commissioners say. They will be unable to pay for insurance, electrical services, or afford a full-time park attendant.
“This is exactly the way we ought to go,” said Nancy Lind, former park board chair.
With the recent change in state legislation, local jurisdictions are authorized to form metropolitan park districts and, as such, qualify for portions of the zoo/trek funds, based on excise taxes already being collected. Thompson estimates Key Peninsula’s share of the funds would amount to about $100,000 per year, every year, with no special levies or new taxes required.
“Failure is not an option, because our children and grandchildren will have no additional park facilities or improvements for years to come,” said Thompson, adding that the creation of the district will not cost taxpayers anything but it will “produce very significant returns to everyone on the Peninsula.”
The KPPRD commissioners signed a resolution in support of the initiative, stating all KPPRD assets will roll into the new metro park district, when formed. By virtue of state law, the current park district will be disbanded. On the same ballot with the metro park district proposal, all park commissioner positions will be open to new candidates or KPPRD incumbents who wish to file.
Irene Torres is a KP News writer and the treasurer of “Committee for KP Parks.
The first committee meeting heard several reports regarding the failure of the special levy in 2003 and the fact that the current park budget would be exhausted by the time the election takes place. The committee will meet again at 7 p.m. on Feb. 13 at the Fire Station in Key Center, and the public is invited to attend.