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Wilsonville government plans to add parks bond measure to November 2020 ballot

PMG FILE PHOTO - The Parks and Recreation department would like to replace Memorial Park grass fields with turf fields.

The City of Wilsonville will soon begin developing a bond proposal to fund a slew of parks and recreation projects that's passage will be decided by voters via a ballot measure in the November 2020 election.

And, as the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board discussed during a meeting Thursday, Sept. 26, the City is preparing to initiate a task force that will provide a recommendation to Wilsonville City Council on what projects the bond should fund and how much it should cost.

City of Wilsonville Parks and Recreation Director Mike McCarty said at the meeting that the City will likely seek a bond that costs somewhere between $20 million and $40 million with a payment timeline that could vary from 10-to-20 years. The bond would be funded via additional taxes and McCarty said Wilsonville households would pay an additional $236 a year in the scenario of a 20-year payment schedule for a $40 million bond.

Some projects the City has in its master plan that haven't been funded and could be funded through a bond include new sports fields in the undeveloped Frog Pond Community Park, new turf fields in Memorial Park, improved river access and the addition of a boat launch in Boones Ferry Park and additional walking paths in Charbonneau. The City noted earlier this year that parks and recreation projects accounts for $50 million of the $247 million in its capital improvement fund five-year forecast.

"My experience with bonds is you're trying to get something for everybody because (voters will think) 'Why am I voting for it. What am I getting out of it?'" McCarty said at the meeting.

McCarty added that the City wants to attract a diverse swath of the population for the task force. However, he said he hopes members are supportive of the general concept of going out for a bond to pay for parks and recreation improvements.

"I would hope they would be on there to say 'We want to make this happen,'" McCarty said.

The majority of the advisory board members present at the meeting said they would be willing to join the task force.

"Knowing we have giant master plans with expensive items that aren't getting done we're going to have to convince the public, 'If you want to see these things happen, you're gonna have to pay for it,'" advisory board member Steve Benson said.

The City will not be able to advocate for the bond measure once it's introduced, but McCarty said members of the task force could lead the advocacy push. City Manager Bryan Cosgrove clarified to the Spokesman that members could do that outside of their work with the task force.

"It's not uncommon for a task force, once the City has developed something to come on the ballot, for members of that task force to take over and form a PAC (political action committee) to advocate for it," Cosgrove said.

Benson was on the taskforce for the French Prairie Bridge project — a plan to build a bridge across the Willamette River —and has noticed that Wilsonville City Council often greenlights the recommendations proposed by task forces.

"City council in recent times really pays attention to the work task forces do and they pretty much adopt what is presented to them. They know it's a lot of work the task force does to put it together," he said.

McCarty said the City has about eight months to prepare the ballot measure and that it must move swiftly to do so.

"I don't think we're behind the eight ball but we're to the point where we have to get going because this doesn't happen overnight," he said.

Cosgrove said the task force will likely need to be established by mid-October and start meeting by Thanksgiving. He said those interested should reach out to McCarty at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

"If there are folks out in the community that want to be a part of this we want to get as many names as we can," Cosgrove said.


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