SEATTLE — Seattle City Councilmember Andrew Lewis is pushing for cleaner, greener and more accessible parks in a proposed six-year funding plan.
But to make it happen, it will cost taxpayers.
"We took this past summer to really double down on basic maintenance,” Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Christopher Williams said.
On Monday morning, Williams gathered with other community leaders as Lewis announced his plan to do even more work in the city’s nearly 500 parks, acknowledging that taxpayers would have to pay more for it.
"It is within the four corners of what the voters approved in 2014. They said, look we are going to give this property tax authority to the city, and we are giving it with the mandate that we want you to implement to make sure that our parks are clean, safe and open,” Lewis said.
Lewis is proposing a tax of $0.39 per $1,000 of assessed value. The rate is roughly twice what residents paid under the first cycle of the Seattle Park District. Lewis says it would allow for critical investments that would drastically increase park cleaning, maintenance of park bathrooms, renovate community centers to make them climate-conscious buildings and increase tree planting. The plan would also make parks more accessible with bathrooms open year-round by the end of 2028, according to Lewis.
"We don't want people living in parks,” Lewis said. "What we need to be able to do is after we are able to center people's needs and move them inside, is activate those parks so that they don't become attractive sites for potential future encampments."
Downtown Seattle Association says more people are coming back downtown, with 3 million visitors seen in August. That same month brought the report of 44% of 2019 totals when it comes to workers returning to downtown.
“It’s uplifting,” John Andro Avendano, an artist who has his work at Frederick Holmes Art Gallery in Pioneer Square, said.
"It has gotten considerably better. Most of the empty spaces you see around here are now full,” Avendano said.