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The Seattle Sketcher

An illustrated journal of life in the Puget Sound region by Times artist Gabriel Campanario.

August 21, 2009 at 3:47 PM

Note to King County: Don’t close parks, cut bureaucracy instead

parks082009m.jpg
parkgreentree082009s.jpg Aug. 20, 10:32 a.m. [Click images to see larger]
Maplewood Park near Renton (above) and Green Tree Park near Kent (left) are two of the 39 neighborhood parks that King County may be closing to save $5 million from the 2010 budget, as reported in our paper last Monday by Keith Ervin.
After a quick visit to the parks yesterday morning, I called Doug Williams, spokesman for the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, to find out more about the closures.
He explained that the parks on the list are all in areas that are potentially going to be annexed by neighboring cities. If that happens, “King County will hand over ownership of the parks to the cities at no cost. Then they would become city parks,” he said.
This is what would happen if the closures take effect: “You would see signage saying this park is closed and no longer mantained. … If there are gates, those gates could be locked. If playground equipment is not going to be inspected we would make it off limits. … Some fencing could be put around the playgrounds. … Unfortunately, people would have to stay out of those areas,” explained Williams.
What a bummer. I’m not sure how I would explain my 4- and 6-year-old kids that the playground has been locked. A neighborhood park really makes a difference to them. They provide a safe environment to play. Here’s hoping that Susan Hutchison or Dow Constantine, whoever wins the King County Executive race in November, can sort out this mess.
I also agree with this post on the Ed Cetera blog by editorial writer Joni Balter. She suggests trimming costs by reducing the size of the County Council and keeping some parks open.
Like Maplewood Heights neighbor Don told me yesterday morning on a stop from his regular walk through the park, “people don’t want to lose their parks, cut out all the bureaucracy instead.”

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