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If King County parks aren’t overrun with people, why should we spend more money on them?

If we preserve parks and few people use them, is it still worth the effort and resources? (Image courtesy King County Parks)

Early voter returns show near 70 percent approval for a levy that will increase taxes for King County parks by $176 million.

KIRO Radio’s John Curley thinks people should be asking for numbers on park use before forking over more and more money for their creation and maintenance.

“The one thing that I bring up all the time in the City Council in Sammamish, which people hate, is I ask for metrics. If we’re going to spend $1 million on a park, I always say, ‘Well let’s do a head count on all the other parks first and see if people are using the parks.’ If they’re not using the parks, why do you build another park?”

But Dave Ross thinks Curley is kind of missing the point of parks. They’re not supposed to be overrun with people, he says.

“A lot people believe the purpose of parks is not just for them to be thronged with people but to preserve some open space if you want to go out someplace and be alone.”

Many parks and trails are remote and get little use, but no one would be able to use them at all if they weren’t preserved for the occasion someone actually makes the trek.

“There are probably relatively few people who are going to go camping in the Glacier Peaks Wilderness area. These are for people who are in pretty good condition, so a relative handful, but it’s a gorgeous area,” says Dave. “Should it not be protected and maintained and policed?”

John is still skeptical and recalls a recent case where the council in Sammamish was considering spending $1.3 million on a waterfront pocket park.

“I said to Jesse, who’s in charge of parks, I said, ‘How big is this space? How many people, if they laid down on a blanket elbow-to-elbow, could possibly enjoy the park?” said John. “We came up with about 30.”

But sitting elbow-to-elbow, would you enjoy your $1.3 million park?

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August primary election results
King County Parks levy says ‘not a new tax,’ but adds $176 million to our tab

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