Vashon’s parks hold rich history, value

The Vashon Park District supports 18 island parks and programs that serve the entire community.

  • Thursday, October 3, 2019 5:03pm
  • Opinion

Our Vashon Park District was created in 1983 and over these past years, many of our fellow citizens have undertaken the responsibility of stewarding the district. I have been an elected member of the Vashon Park District Board for almost two years now and I am proud of my part in nurturing the mission of the district while listening to and respecting the needs and wants of the citizens of Vashon-Maury Island.

The mission of the Vashon Park District is to provide public access to the district’s parks, facilities and recreational programs. The district keeps these assets to appropriately defined standards, so island citizens and visitors can improve the quality of their lives. I feel fortunate to live in a community that values this mission statement.

The district is funded through a property tax levy, which is voted on by residents every four years. The upcoming November levy is a vote to renew this funding for operations and maintenance of the Vashon Park District. This is not an additional levy — it will replace the existing levy (at a lower rate), which was voter-approved in 2015 at 50 cents and expires at the end of the year. The funds that the Vashon Park District receives is spent entirely on the island. The $.45 per $1,000 of assessed value of my home will be used exclusively for operations, maintenance and improving our parks and recreation opportunities.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the Vashon Park District is that we have a variety of types of properties that are accessible to the public. In 1996, King County gave the district properties on Vashon-Maury Island that had been county parks. Today, the Vashon Park District supports 18 island parks and programs that serve the entire community. It is important to note that King County will not take ownership or control of these properties if the Vashon Park District is not allowed to continue operations. Without taxpayer funding, the district would be forced to shut down. This is true for any taxing district. If there is no levy, there are no funds to continue operations.

Since joining the board, I have discovered parks that I did not know about when I first moved here almost six years ago. One of my favorite Vashon Park District properties is Lisabeula. It is less than three miles from my house and is my favorite public water access on the island. This park affords me access to a wonderful waterfront that houses Purple Martins, my favorite Kingfisher family, occasional seal sightings, the best place for kids to kayak (in my opinion)and some excellent boat watching through Colvos Passage. Some of the sunsets that I have been privileged enough to witness from there have been in the top ten of my life. Beach naps too.

I spend a significant amount of time discussing our parks with fellow island residents (if you ever see me around and want to talk parks, I am always up for it). Here are a few comments from islanders in writing about our parks.

“My family uses almost all of the recreational areas that our park district has to offer. I couldn’t imagine living here without them. I grew up on this island and I cannot express how much it means to me to have my children play on the same beach where I learned to swim.” — Holly Bailey

“As residents of Vashon, we are spoiled. Three minutes from any front porch is a park where we can choose from a variety of outdoor experiences. That is a privilege very few people get to enjoy.” — Judith Neary

“Vashon parks and facilities are woven into the fabric of our community enabling every one of every age to engage with others play.” — Erin Kieper

“Vashon parks provide facilities and services for families. Communities are built through experiences with each other. Parks provide places we meet/play, converse, exercise and create long-lasting relationships. The parks employees work hard to maintain fields, buildings and playgrounds. We are lucky to have such hardworking staff to maintain our parks.” — Desiree Nelson

“I love the pool! Especially in the wintertime.” — Karen Biondo

When I hear these sentiments from our neighbors and friends, I am honored to be a small part of what the Vashon Park District means for our community. My family benefits from programming and maintained properties daily and I value our parks.

— Abby Antonelis sits on the Vashon Park District Board

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