For many years, the Vashon Park District (VPD) and the Quartermaster Yacht Club have partnered in providing a summer sailing program for our island’s children. I’ve been privileged to be a part of that team.
Over 3,000 kids have found a passion for the water participating in the Bruce Haulman Junior Sailing Program while learning small boat sailing and safety skills. Many of these children return to the program as instructors and have continued on to teach at the university level. The yacht club and park district jointly support scholarships to assure it’s accessible to all young sailors. This program is unique to our island community and, without question, its success relies heavily on VPD’s exceptional staff and operational support. Although the program is self funding, the continued strength of this partnership is dependent on the pending park district’s property tax levy.
The next four-year park district tax levy is up for a vote by April 23. It’s a maintenance and operations levy — the only money Vashon Park District gets for maintenance and operations. Vashon-Maury Island voters received their ballots April 3rd, and the district is asking for an increase to 52 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.
That works out to only $60 more per year on a $500,000 property. For our parks, this funding ensures the completion of maintenance deferred during the district’s belt-tightening. Over the next four years (2020-2023), levy revenue will allow VPD to tackle essential infrastructure projects and needed maintenance on Agren and BARC fields, Lisabeula and Agren parking lots, major work on the treasured Belle Baldwin house, the Inspiration Point wall and various projects at Point Robinson. It also means the addition of restrooms in the parks and more programming for families, seniors and youth.
Our park district experienced financial shortfalls a few years ago. Since then, district staff and commissioners have worked hard and succeeded in returning to solid financial footing. The VES Field is completed with new lights. We have a covered year-round pool enjoyed by youth, adults and seniors. The days of living on borrowed money are over. Now is the time to revitalize and enhance the park district’s partnership with the community.
The Bruce Haulman Junior Sailing Program, art and athletic camps, summer concerts, expanded programming for seniors, sports fields for youth and adults, trails and open spaces support our community’s health. Further, healthy parks will continue to attract young families to our island.
Vashon Park District’s many programs and facilities comprise our islands’ playground for all. By April 23rd, a ‘yes’ vote on Proposition #1 will sustain the district’s ability to serve all of us and provide our community with many years of smooth sailing.
— Jeff Chale is a former commodore of the Quartermaster Yacht Club and a current member.