A new list of items for a proposed metropolitan park bond includes money for trails, sports fields, a pavilion for the downtown core and even a BMX facility at a total cost of $15.8 million.
The biggest dollar item on the mayor’s list of 15 projects is $6.5 million for a six-field sports complex to be located on the 20-acre Reed Property, located just east of city limits.
Mayor Neil Johnson said he is proposing use of the Reed Property as park land because attempts to find water have come up dry and the most expensive part of any parks program is the purchase of land.
“We have the property. We can start there and move forward,” Johnson said, adding that the land would have to be sold to the city by the city’s water utility, which paid $1.07 million to purchase the land in hopes of finding a new source of water for the city.
A trial well drilled on the site by RH2 this summer found no water, forcing the city to reconsider what to do with the land.
Along with the sports complex, Johnson is proposing sport courts, a playground, picnic shelters and a concession stand at the property.
In addition, the mayor’s proposal includes $2 million for a trail near Fennel Creek and an additional trail extension to Garden Meadows.
There is also $2.5 million listed for a new pavilion in the downtown civic center area. Johnson said he envisions a pavilion like the one at Puyallup’s Pioneer Park that can be used for multiple events, such as arts and music, and said such a project could help create “energy” for the city’s civic campus in the downtown core.
Presently, Bonney Lake owns multiple parcels downtown in preparation of building the civic center, though no date is set for construction.
“It’s already there,” he said of the land. “It’s a matter of passing a bond and putting up a pavilion.”
Johnson also proposed multiple uses for the Moriarty Property, a piece of land located adjacent to Allan Yorke Park the city purchased several years ago as an addition to the park and has yet to develop.
Included for the Moriarty land is a playground, additional sport courts, a playfield, an amphitheater and a BMX facility.
But while the plan includes many new facilities and items residents have requested through the city’s parks plan survey, it is also notable for what it does not include.
“Nowhere you see here is a YMCA,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he left a YMCA off the list because it “may be too rich” at this time and he’d prefer waiting to see if more money materializes for that project while still enhancing the city’s parks.
Johnson called the plan “bold” but said he thought that was what was needed to help reinforce the community aspect and the civic pride to convince voters a parks district was a good idea.
“I love this plan. I think it’s a very ambitious plan,” said Councilwoman Katrina Minton-Davis, who said she loved the pavilion idea.
Councilman Donn Lewis agreed, adding that the focus on downtown lets citizens know the city is still working on that project.
Some members of the council worried about the timing of placing an additional taxing district and levy on the ballot.
Councilman Jim Rackley said he liked the plan, but would like to push a decision on running a ballot measure until early next year, when the city can better gauge the state of the economy.
“I don’t think we should be submitting this if the economy has not fully covered,” Rackley said.
“That is a concern,” agreed Johnson.
Councilman Tom Watson said he too was worried about running a bond measure, but also worried about delaying any further.
“It’s probably not a good time for a bond, but you can’t keep waiting,” he said.
If the council decides to put a metropolitan parks district on the ballot, which would allow the city to pass a tax levy for parks funding, and voters approve the measure, the estimated effect on homeowners would be $0.57 per $1,000 assessed home value, or about $122.58 per year on a home valued at $215,500.
The council directed staff to continue with a time frame that would further review projects for inclusion with a goal of bringing it back to council Aug. 21.