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SEATTLE-Voters going to the polls on Nov. 7 will vote on an eight-year property tax increase that would raise nearly $200 million to purchase, develop and maintain parks, athletic fields, green belts and other natural areas throughout the city.

The plan, which was unanimously approved by the Seattle City Council in August, was devised with the help of a citizen’s advisory committee that spent four years identifying land in neighborhoods throughout Seattle that could be acquired, expanded upon or improved to increase the city’s green space.

Seattle City Council Member Nick Licata, who chairs the Culture, Arts and Parks committee, says the frenzy of development now underway in Seattle makes it critical that the city act immediately to preserve green space. “We have a huge obligation to purchase land now before the prices go up any more,” notes Licata. “If we don’t preserve open space in Seattle now, we won’t have it in the future. It will all end up as condominiums, office space and baseball parks.”

The greenery preservation plan, which would cost residents about 35 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, focuses on neighborhood parks, green spaces, trails and the Woodland Park Zoo. Of $198.2 million designated for the project, $26 million would be earmarked for the purchase of land for parks, green belts and natural areas, another $102 million would be spent on the actual construction of parks, athletic fields, boulevards and trails, and nearly $22 million would go to improve the city’s Woodland Park Zoo. The plan also earmarks $39.5 million for park maintenance, environmental programs, and extra after-school programs.

Though the construction and improvements would take place over an eight-year period spanning from 2001 to 2008, Licata says that if the levy passes, the city will purchase the land that has been identified for development as soon as possible to ensure that it is secured.

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