Edmonds council learns more about draft plan for city parks

Yost Park.

Yost Park

Consultants who helped the City of Edmonds develop a draft Parks, Recreation and Open Space (PROS) plan after months of public involvement, provided the City Council with a plan overview Tuesday night — including a recommendation that the city continue to pursue the idea of forming a Metropolitan Park District.

Lauren Schmitt and Ryan Mottau of MIG, Inc. touched on the highlights of the PROS plan, including citizen feedback received during focus groups, community events, an online survey, two large community workshops, a random sample telephone survey, and project team meetings.

Among the feedback: 31 percent of those responding to the survey say they use a park near their home and 29 percent frequent waterfront parks. One surprise for the consultants was the activities that survey respondents say they enjoy in Edmonds parks. While most were predictable items like walking and biking, also included on the list was “arts and cultural expression,” a factor that the consultants said they haven’t seen in other cities and that Mottau attributes to Edmonds being “an arts town.”

One of the challenges in developing new parks is that there is little available land in Edmonds that isn’t already built out. Mottau said this may require creative thinking on the part of city officials, including partnerships with other organizations, to creatively use existing space for items such as sports fields.

According to feedback received during the public involvement process, citizens appear to be willing to pay for parks improvements, Mottau said. If a Metropolitan Park District measure were approved by voters, it could fund the city’s deferred maintenance and capital needs for parks that are currently unfunded through a property tax assessment (at a maximum of 75 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation).

Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director Carrie Hite told the council that the PROs plan, once approved, will put the city “in a very good position” to be more competitive for state and federal grants for habitat development, especially related to the Edmonds Marsh.

The public will have an opportunity to comment on the plan during Planning Board and City Council meetings in January and February 2014.

For now, Edmonds citizens are invited to review and send feedback to the city via the online comment form at this link. For those who do not have access to a computer, a hard copy will be available for review at the Frances Anderson Center, 700 Main St.  Handwritten comments can be dropped off at the Recreation Office following review.

In other action, the council:

— Unanimously approved a Code of Conduct.

– Deferred a decision on a resolution adopting a policy regarding councilmember participation by speaker phone or other technology.

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