Absentee ballots are in the mail this week, and it’s time for voters in Issaquah and Sammamish to take a stand on two local issues. Our editorial board supports the $19 million Sammamish parks bond and annual $310,000 levy measures, as well as the $4.5 million Issaquah fire bond measure, and we think you should, too.
Both measures have been well researched, and a long time coming.
In Issaquah, the need for a fire station in the northwest quadrant of the city was first discussed in the 1980s. Officials looked at several sites and even purchased one parcel of land, but each time it didn’t work out. Several years ago, they started talking with Sound Transit about a fire station on the new Transit Center site. The proposal calls for a mix of funds, some direct from the city coffers, some from Fire District 10 and some from the bond measure. If approved, the replacement for the temporary station on Maple Street will be built using energy efficient features.
Most importantly, it will help Eastside Fire & Rescue provide better service. (Read: Firefighters will get to homes, businesses and accident scenes more quickly and be better prepared to assist in emergencies.) And, at a cost of about $30 per year for the next 20 years for the owner of a $500,000 home, that improved service is quite a deal.
The proposal has been carefully put together and, before being added to the ballot for voter approval, was vetted before the Issaquah City Council and the Eastside Fire & Rescue Board of Directors, two bodies of citizen governors with the citizens’ best interests at heart.
The same holds true in Sammamish, where a parks funding measure has been under discussion nearly as long as the city has existed. Although in several different renditions and compilations, the goal behind the parks package has remained steady: Improve park offerings, athletic field availability and recreational opportunities. Parks Commissioners and City Council members agreed on the current package. The tax levy rate in Sammamish will go down, even with the proposed measures, which would cost the owner of a $600,000 home a combined $108 per year. The bond measure is for a 20-year period, but the levy lid lift would not expire, as it is for ongoing maintenance and program support.
In fact, the package is really more than simply a “parks” bond and levy, as it has commonly been referred to, and although the ballot measure goes slightly beyond that, saying it’s for parks, recreation and athletic facilities, neither description portrays the true breadth of the package. It would, among other things, help create a youth center (which will also serve seniors and very young children in off hours), help fund the city’s first waterfront park on Lake Sammamish, convert grass fields to all-weather turf fields, improve East Sammamish Park, build a major trail connection and help pay for new park land. The projects are distributed throughout the city so that all residents benefit. And the improvements are all needed in order to help Sammamish become the first-class city that its residents desire. The youth center, in particular, would be a welcome addition, considering the high percentage of young people who live here and the lack of in-town after-school activities available to them.
The youth center would be created in partnership with the Boys & Girls Club, the athletic fields with the Issaquah School District and the waterfront park in partnership with the city of Redmond and King County.
The Sammamish measures are all about partnerships, and really, that’s what officials from both cities are asking from voters – to hold up their end of the partnership between the cities and the citizens who live there.