Monday, January 27, 2014

Saturday work party 2-1-14

Greetings Friends of Lincoln Park! If you've been in the park recently, you may have noticed that there are signs of spring.  The Indian plum has buds and just might have flowers by the time of our upcoming work party.
  • Saturday, Feb 1 from 9am to noon
  • Meet at the kiosk in the north parking lot (Fauntleroy Way SW and SW Rose St)
  • Be prepared for weather surprises, layer to stay warm and dry and wear sturdy shoes or boots.
Eric Espenhort (jeneric@ix.netcom.com) will be leading the work party in Sharon's absence (Thanks so much!).  We'll be finishing up the section of woods we've been working on for the last year and starting into a new area. Lots of holly that needs pulling with our new "Extratagator" (and some ivy too).  We promise you a good work out and good karma! Sharon
--
Sharon Baker
Volunteer Forest Steward
Friends of Lincoln Park
206.464.1068 cell

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Outside City Hall: Metropolitan Park District - not a solution to our ailing park system

Anyone interested in long range planning for our parks, please read on...
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Ruth Wilson
Date: Thu, Jan 16, 2014 at 4:20 PM
Subject: Fwd: Outside City Hall: Metropolitan Park Districts - Not a solution to our ailing park system
To: Sharon Baker 

OutsideCity Hall: Metropolitan Park District - not a solution to our ailing parksystem

    - Carolee Colter and John V. Fox (columnists), reprinted from November edition of Pacific Publishing newspapers

Everyone agrees Seattle’s parks system is in dire financial straits, with more than $270 million in “deferred” maintenance, including deteriorating structures, water mains and sewers. But does this crisis justify handing over control and authority of our entire parks system — including pools, gyms, lakes and greenspaces — to a proposed independent Metropolitan Parks District (MPD)?
Consider the characteristics of this MPD:

  • Ongoing, permanent independent taxing authority, with the ability to raise your property tax bill as much as $300 annually in perpetuity, plus an additional 1 percent per year above that for inflation;
  • Immunity from any of Seattle’s laws and regulations on competitive bidding, equal employment, human rights, ethics, civil service, whistleblower protection, percent-for-the-arts, tree protection and even the comprehensive plan. MPDs are subject only to a set of very general state “requirements”;
  • Ability to sell off park assets, to effectively privatize city buildings and land. And it could acquire adjacent land even outside city limits — your land, as well — via eminent domain; and
  • Immunity from any challenge by local citizen initiative or referendum.

Although state-enabling legislation requires that the MPD board shall consist of our City Council members, they’d be acting as independent commissioners, bound only by broad powers outlined under that state law, not the City Charter. 

As for the day-to-day activities of operating our park system, the real power would cede to administrators completely insulated from public scrutiny.

The state law also requires Seattle voters first to approve creation of the MPD, but once it’s created, there would be no local means to reverse the decision or alter its future actions. 

Few options considered
Even before there’s been a public airing of other funding options, nearly all of our City Council members back creation of the MPD, along with a coterie of corporate and other well-heeled elites. Our new Mayor-Elect Ed Murray also says he likes it. And we’re betting you weren’t even aware of it, let alone consulted. 

When a “citizens advisory group” was created supposedly to review funding alternatives for our parks, with a public hearing held just a few days ago, our current council and soon-to-be-ex-mayor appointed mostly insiders who appear already committed to creation of the MPD. Minutes from their discussions are dominated by analysis of that option and how to sell it to voters. 

The only other option given consideration is a new parks levy that voters would be asked to approve to replace the current one expiring next year. One possibility is a levy that would run forever and add another $30 a year or more to your property taxes. This annual tax hit would run in tandem with the new taxes imposed by the MPD — meaning, in the not-to-distant future, you could be paying up to another $330 in property taxes in perpetuity to the MPD.

There’s no doubt our nationally regarded parks system is ailing. But the cures now being considered by city officials may only make the patient sicker — so say a growing number of critics at the neighborhood level. We’re inclined to agree.

Neighborhood activists predict MPD taxes and a perpetual parks levy will be substituted for current monies coming the general fund and dedicated to parks. Once the city has tapped these new sources, then general fund money will be withdrawn from parks and dedicated to other uses.

Effectively, that’s what’s been happening over the last two decades since the city turned to special voter-approved parks levies. Where once parks were viewed as a basic service as integral as police, fire or public utilities, as the City Charter decrees, now they’re treated like a frill to be funded with special levies. 

Critics of the MPD call first for a reallocation of general fund monies back into the park system. They also seek an extensive internal audit by the city auditor to discover where efficiencies can be found and staff reallocated to make more effective use of the dollars available for parks. 

Above all, they’re seeking a more transparent process and a longer, broader and more thorough public review and vetting of all funding options to save our park system.
  
The take-away
As we’ve said in prior columns, a key funding source commonly used across the region, yet resolutely ignored by our elected, is developer-impact fees. With thousands of new housing units expected for Seattle and a resurgence of downtown office growth, potentially tens of millions of dollars annually could be raised to fill the current hole in the parks department budget. 

Instead of truly considering options, we find ourselves in a pell-mell rush to create an MPD with little or no public dialogue. As a city, we are at risk of seeing our parks taken away from us in the name of saving them. It’s time to take a step back from the brink. 

JOHN V. FOX and CAROLEE COLTER are coordinators for the Seattle Displacement Coalition)

--
Sharon Baker
Volunteer Forest Steward
Friends of Lincoln Park
206.464.1068 cell

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fwd: Love Your Parks? We need to hear from you!

Hey Friends of Lincoln Park, here's a chance for early involvement in planning for Seattle Parks. - Sharon
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Stoops, Kerrie
Date: Mon, Jan 13, 2014 at 12:48 PM
Subject: Love Your Parks? We need to hear from you!
In August 2014 voters will be asked to fund more and better programs, facilities, and services for Seattle Parks and Recreation. 

Seattle Parks and a citizens committee are reaching out to you to gather input on what should be on the ballot and what tax mechanism should be put in place to fund the ballot measure at upcoming public meetings.  I have attached the press release (pdf) and flyer (pdf) for the meetings.

Some items of interest:
·         Funding for Zoo and Aquarium
·         Funding for more maintenance and cleanliness of parks
·         Funding for Park Rangers to improve park safety
·         Funding for environmental restoration and sustainability
·         Funding to open community centers earlier and keep them open longer
·         Funding for scholarships for low-income families and outreach to immigrant and refugee families
·         Funding P-patches and other urban food opportunities

For an entire list of initiatives visit http://www.seattle.gov/parks/legacy/committee.htm and look for the Investment Initiative Background Materials on the right side of the page

At the meeting you will be asked how you would prioritize this list.

Parks will also ask your opinion on the tax mechanism. Should we have a new levy or develop a metropolitan parks district that is a dedicated permanent funding source for Seattle Parks and Recreation.  

If you need interpretation services at the meeting please contact Susanne Rockwell at 733-9702 or parkslegacy@seattle.gov.

Facilitators will help conduct the meetings and your input is valuable.

For additional questions about the meetings please contact Susanne Rockwell at 733-9702 or Susan Golub at 684-7046.

Kerrie Stoops
Acting Senior Public Relations Specialist
Planning and Development
800 Maynard Ave. S, Seattle 98134
206.233.7929

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Sunday Work Party, Jan 19

Winter greetings Friends of Lincoln Park! We've got a work party coming up soon. It's a Sunday, so we'll be doing maintenance, going back to an area we've worked previously to catch new invasives and anything we missed earlier.
  • Sunday, January 19th from 9am to noon
  • Meet at the kiosk in the north parking lot (Fauntleroy Way SW & SW Rose St)
  • Dress in NW layers to stay warm and dry with sturdy shoes or boots

And check out our fabulous new tool, a Big Foot on our blog friendsoflincolnpark.blogspot.com.  It's an improvement on the weed wrench, used to extract shrub and small trees. We are testing it for GSP. Grant and I both tried it and found it lighter, easier to handle and efficient. Hope we get to keep it!

If you have access to The New Yorker, check Michael Pollan's article, "The Intelligent Plant" in the Dec 23&30 issue. Amazing information on how plants interact with one another and with their environments. Makes me want to apologize to the ivy and holly!  Sharon
--
Sharon Baker
Volunteer Forest Steward
Friends of Lincoln Park
206.464.1068 cell


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Our Latest Tool!

Here's our latest tool! It's a lighter weight improvement on the classic weed wrench, used to extract small trees and shrubs. It's called the "Big Foot". Like a weed wrench, it gives you a tremendous mechanical advantage and allows you to pull up holly, roots and all. The GSP purchased a few to try out (hope we get to keep it). Grant and I both thought it was easier to use than a weed wrench, and just as efficient. Come try it out!









Sharon Baker
Volunteer Forest Steward
Friends of Lincoln Park
206.464.1068 cell

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Follow up on ivy at TJ's

A tree trapped in ivy
Trader Joe’s corporate offices have responded to our complaints about the sale of English ivy by suggesting the ivy they sell is “non-invasive”.   “Non-invasive” ivy is a contradiction in terms.   While it’s good the ivy they sell doesn’t go to seed and is slow growing, one of the reasons ivy has been such a successful invader is because it reproduces both by seed and vegetatively.  Any ivy plant, disposed of on soil, is capable of rooting and spreading.  I shared Trader Joe’s response with Sasha Shaw, at the King County Noxious Weed program.  Her response is quoted below:

“I think that is a pretty good answer and effort on their part.  Although it would be great to not see English ivy sold at all, it is true that the variety they sell isn’t on the state weed list, and if it doesn’t go to seed and grows slowly that is definitely a plus.  It’s a nice touch to say for indoor use only.  They are making an effort to be conscientious and I think that’s a good thing that should be encouraged and rewarded.  The one additional thing they could add is a caution about disposing of the ivy outdoors to prevent potentially spreading it.  Disposal should only be in a yard waste bin or other enclosed container.”

Sasha also informed me that the decision to forbid the sale of any form of ivy in Washington State is made by the State Department of Agriculture, Nursery Inspection Program, as was done in Oregon.  So, until the Department of Agriculture acts, I think we should continue to
1) Not buy ivy and spread the word on “evil ivy”.
2) Remove ivy from our yards, parks and green spaces (it can be done, with persistence and good follow up, check out what has been accomplished by the Green Seattle Partnership in West Seattle parks).
3) Continue to challenge the retail sale of ivy.  “Non-invasive” ivy is a contradiction in terms!

And as other writers have pointed out, ivy is not the only invasive plant threatening the health and survival of our vital green spaces.

Sharon Baker
Volunteer Forest Steward
206.464.1068 cell