The five-member Metro Parks Tacoma Board of Commissioners on Monday (Dec. 10) unanimously approved the agency’s 2019-2020 budget, which takes effect on Jan. 1.
“This is an exciting time for Metro Parks as we complete many of the projects that were promised in the bond that voters approved in 2014, and then start new projects,” said Board President Andrea Smith. “Over the past couple of years, we worked with the community to develop detailed strategic plans for parks, recreation and zoological services, and this budget ensures we strive to deliver those levels of service.”
“The budget also underscores two major commitments we’re making to the community,” added Aaron Pointer, the Park Board clerk. “Our staff members are working to make sure Metro Parks services are readily accessible to everyone, regardless of circumstances. And we are enhancing our commitment to environmental conservation to challenge residents to join us in taking steps to protect our land and waters.”
The operating budget spends $128.4 million over the two-year period, plus $54.6 million in construction spending. Funding sources include revenue from property and sales taxes, program and attendance fees, agreements with other agencies, grants, and philanthropic donations. Much of the construction spending comes from the $198 million voter-approved park bond, which is being used to leverage other grants that expand the scope of what can be built.
The most visible element of the spending plan will be the opening in 2019 of the two most significant components of the Point Defiance Park waterfront project: the Wilson Way pedestrian/bicycle bridge and Dune Peninsula. The opening of Wilson Way will fulfill a 30-year vision for an unimpeded, non-motorized link between Point Defiance Park and the Ruston Way waterfront. Both the bridge and the 11-acre Dune Peninsula will offer unparalleled public views of the surrounding Puget Sound, as well as Mount Rainier, the Olympic Mountains and nearby islands.
Additionally, over the next two years, Metro Parks Tacoma will:
· Complete about 60 current parks maintenance projects and start more than 50 new projects throughout the Tacoma area.
· Analyze public feedback and complete the planning processes to set the future for Ruston Way, Titlow Park and Swan Creek Park.
· Model environmental conservation practices and encourage residents to adopt similarly responsible routines.
· Embed the principles of equity, diversity and inclusion into all of the park district’s processes and programs.
· Double the financial assistance fund so that more people will have access to programs.
· Strengthen links between Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and students of Tacoma Public Schools.
“We have an internal campaign called ‘This Is Why’ that showcases images of the people we serve as a reminder of why we do this work,” said Metro Parks Executive Director Shon Sylvia. “Our employees are proud of the many ways their work enriches lives. Our passionate and talented staff members are ready to tackle the challenges and opportunities.”
For more information on Metro Parks’ 2019-2020 budget, go to MetroParksTacoma.org/funding.
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