Parks supporters at odds in Prop. 1 election fight

SEATTLE -- Tuesday's primary election holds little controversy - except when it comes to Proposition 1. The ballot measure would establish a new, permanent way to fund city parks, but longtime parks supporters are at odds over this one.

Seattle parks are in a funding crisis that voters are being asked to fix. Prop. 1 replaces the current parks levy with a new, autonomous taxing district overseen by the Seattle City Council. Members of Seattle Parks for All, a group that's backing the measure, said it will end the future funding guesswork, and knock-out a maintenance backlog.

"What we need is a long term, dedicated, sustainable fund source to really take ahold of these problems," said Ken Bounds, a former parks superintendent who now chairs Seattle Parks for All.

Opponents said they love parks too, but they liken Prop. 1 to writing city councilmembers a blank check.

"It's no longer up to the voters once it's created, so that bothers us, because once you can't have that right to vote, you really have no voice," said Don Harper, who's leading the fight against the ballot measure.

Harper's group, Our Parks Forever, favors levies, and pushed its message last week with controversial robo-calls. However, some recipients got confused and concerned because the caller ID looked like it was coming from a 911 call center. Harper said it wasn't deliberate.

"I wish we could have heard about this (previously) because we would have put a stop to the calls," Harper said. "We would have just stopped the calls, and made the vendor straighten it out."

Both campaigns support parks - the disagreement is over how to fund them. Now voters will make the call.

"I'm concerned about the population losing control of what they want," said Evelyn Troughton, who plans to vote no.

"I think we should automatically just fund them, because we all want the parks, we have to maintain them, so i'm all for it," said Sharon Ellis, who plans to vote yes.

If Prop. 1 passes, it's expected to raise about $48 million a year. All of that money will be dedicated to parks.