November 15, 1995 in City

Seattle Park Backers Will Try Again Voters Rejected Proposal; New Version Will Be Scaled Back

Associated Press
 

The board of directors for the Committee for the Seattle Commons has voted to try to get the measure on the ballot again next year.

City voters on Sept. 19 rejected the $312 million Commons plan - a proposed 60-acre park at the south end of Lake Union and a 500-acre redevelopment of the surrounding low-key neighborhood of light industry and low-income housing.

The $111 million property-tax levy would have increased the annual tax bill on a $150,000 home by about $48 until the year 2003. The balance of the money was expected to come from other sources, including state and federal funds, grants and donations.

Supporters interpreted the loss - 53 percent to 47 percent - as a rejection of the price tag, not the plan.

“We are not going to give up on it,” said project director Joel Horn.

The 64-member volunteer board met privately Monday and concluded a more modest plan was needed.

Board member and developer Martin Selig said the park is “needed and necessary and would really complement this city. And I look forward to developing in that area.”

The plan’s supporters include billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who kicked in a $20 million loan, Mayor Norm Rice and several City Council members.

Councilman Tom Weeks praised the board decision to proceed but said the council is unlikely to make a decision about a second ballot measure until early next year.

Opponents reaffirmed their determination to fight the proposal.

“Essentially we’re being asked to write the same blank check we were asked to write before,” said Matthew Fox of the Seattle Commons Opponents Committee.

Also Monday, Carol Van Noy, the city’s Ethics and Elections executive director, reversed her Oct. 16 finding that the Commons organization is a political action committee that must disclose the source and amount of its donations.

The ruling confirms that “we are entitled to do a modest amount of political activity as every non-profit organization is,” said Commons board president Gerry Johnson.

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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