$5.2 Million Shaved from Bonney Lake's Work-in-Progress Parks Plan

Mayor Neil Johnson has scaled down his original parks proposal, retaining plans for trails and pavilion but opting to convert existing ballfields to turf rather than construct new facilities, all to present the most favorable parks package to voters nex

While opinions on priorities under the city of Bonney Lake's long-term parks and recreation plan remain varied, city stakeholders can agree that voters need to buy in to the plan -- and more importantly, into the funding mechanism for the plan.

That underlying task of bringing the most appealing parks plan package to city voters to ensure the greatest chance of approval has been the catalyst for a two park summits that have occurred since May to collect public input (read about the first summit).

At the start of the public input process, the city had estimated the entire plan, including new trails, a YMCA/community center and better parks and sports complexes would cost $38.5 million. Attendees at Parks Summit II heard plans for a package less than half that cost.

More Attractive Price Tag

Mayor Neil Johnson, balancing the community's desire for all of these elements  while finding more cost-effective options, brought the total down to $15.8 million in his own parks proposal that he released in July. Johnson was on assignment in Eastern Washington during Thursday evening's Park Summit II but had further modified his original proposal and trimmed estimated spending to $10.6 million.

Fifteen projects are now down to 11 and the biggest change is that there will not be an initial investment in the creation of new sports facilities on the Reed property, but rather a renovation of existing ballfields, said Gary Leaf, facilities and special projects manager for Bonney Lake.

The Reed property was no longer under consideration at this time because it was located in the county; certain areas were designated wetlands and/or had other cultural distinctions that hindered development, said City Administrator Don Morrison.

Leaf said Johnson's revised proposal still addresses the four primary needs identified by the community:

  • Jump start the Fennel Creek Trail with an initial three miles. Half of the three miles is already city property so work should be completed quickly.
  • Enlarge and convert to turf existing ballfields to better maximize usage. "We just don't have the land to put a five or six sports complex in one spot," he said. The conversion is less pricey than buying a raw piece of land.
  • Build a community meeting space or pavilion to serve as a precursor to a community or recreation center. Such a facility would require a $10 million to $15 million initial investment. "The dollars are too big to do that up front," he said.
  • Build a playground and ropes course and a BMX facility for youth

Less Attractive Options

More than one of the about 20 community members who turned up for the second summit pointed out the proposal was still 'trail-heavy.'

Regarding the desire to maximize use of the existing ball fields, one person indicated the addition of lights to extend usage in the fall by a few hours would have added value, more so than simply converting grass to turf. Leaf said lighting might become an issue with nearby residents.

Turf was also expensive and needs to be replaced every 15 years or so, another person pointed out.

One resident said she'd prefer to utilize a city-owned community center rather than a YMCA, but she pointed out that none of Johnson's proposal would bring about development on the south side of State Route 410.

Another advocated putting the community center back in to the proposal, as local children can actually utilize the space as opposed to a simple pavilion. Puyallup's Pioneer Park Pavilion, said Park Board member Jim Bouchard, does bring in regular revenue for the city for a variety of event usage, however.

Bouchard also reported that a survey of 110 people he did during Beautify Bonney Lake earlier this month indicated people still prioritized trails as first, and a community center and sports complex next in descending order.

Then again, the majority of people who attending Park Summit I came in support of sports facilities, he said.

Funding First, Details Come Later

The small details of the parks plan are not the point at this time, said one attendee Scott in an attempt to reign in the splintering opinions.

"As a group, we should keep in mind the primary focus is not an individual project but the grander scheme of developing a metropolitican park district (MPD)," he said.

The objective now is to present a guideline to the city so they can "have a general idea of the initial planned projects with assumed dollar amounts in today's numbers, and put it to a vote; this is what people need to fall behind," he said.

Feedback that the city has gotten from residents indicates most people are in favor of the formation of a Metropolitan Park District (MPD), and that appears to be the direction the City Council is leaning toward as well, said Deputy Mayor Dan Swatman.

The formation of an MPD would create a new taxing entity with a maximum levy rate of 75 cents per $1,000 assessed value where funds are designated specifically for parks. They would address ongoing maintenance and operations costs that a one-time park bond couldn't cover, Leaf said.

Whether Council decides to pursue a bond or the park district, either would need approval from voters though the MPD would only require a simple 50 percent majority; a bond requires a 60 percent majority.

The MPD board would be a municipal corporation with city councilmembers serving as board members. Some in attendence Thursday believed the board needed to include community members outside of Council. Morrison said the board could elect to add ex-officio members from the community.

The consensus from those who attended the first summit was to pursue the park district first and a bond could be introduced later for a specific high-cost item, he said.

But Council could still opt for a park bond, said Morrison.

The city provided a table of financial options for bond amounts ranging from $5 million to $15 million over 20 years which, if approved, would also affect city homeowners' taxes accordingly.

The decision has yet to be made, however.

"How much of a bond do we do?" asked Bouchard.

What's Next

Whether the City Council ultimately decides to pursue a bond of a value between $5 million and $15 million over 20 years or the formation of an MPD, it is aiming to put the question to voters in the April 23, 2013 special election.

The Council has until January 8 of next year to put a resolution forward requesting the special election and ballot measure. No further meetings have been announced yet to continue the public conversation but stay tuned to Patch for any announcements that might come forward.

Meanwhile public input is always welcome at the city Park Board, which meets on the second Monday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Bonney Lake Justice Center. Said Board Chair Darren Proctor: "We do not want to make any decision in a vacuum."

By the Numbers

Bonds for Park Improvements

Tax Impact on the Homeowner of: $300,000 $5 M Bond (22 cents/$1,000 AV) $10 M Bond (44 cents/$1,000 AV) $15 M Bond(66 cents/$1,000 AV) Annual Increase
$66.48 $132.96 $199.43 Monthly Increase
$5.54 $11.08 $16.62 Tax Impact on the Homeowner of: $200,000

Annual Increase
$44.32 $88.64 $132.95 Monthly Increase
$3.69 $7.39 $11.08

Johnson's Revised Parks Plan

Trail on WSDOT and City Parcels (includes trailhead)


Trail extension to Garden Meadows

$1 MILLION Multi-purpose Pavilion in civic center
$2.5 MILLION Enlarge ballfield 4 & convert to turf, add bleachers & dugouts
$900,000 Convert Fields 1-3 to turf
Playground & Ropes Course at Mid-town Park
$500,000 Sport Courts (Moriarty)
$400,000 Multi-purpose playfield (Moriarty)
$500,000 BMX Facility (Moriarty) $100,000 Amphitheater (Moriarty) $500,000 Parking lot, storm facility, picnic shelters, storage shed (Moriarty) $800,000



Estimated Tax Levy $0.47/$1,000 AV Estimated Annual Tax on $215,506 Home $100.51

Read More:

, July 30, 2012

, May 16, 2012

, May 10, 2012

BONNEY LAKE PARKS PART III: What Voters Could See on the Ballot in 2013, May 7, 2012

May 3, 2012

May 1, 2012

Lauren Padgett September 30, 2012 at 05:00 PM
It seems Bonney Lake isn't pushing for a YMCA anytime soon - Mayor Johnson told me he feels like it's an expensive option for its citizens. Sumner is still planning for a YMCA at the Orton Junction, if that development is approved. OJ is in appeals right now so it will be some time before that's finalized...
Brian K Cebe October 02, 2012 at 01:53 AM
I am personally going to vote no on the mayors option because its not what the people have asked for.we have told them what we want but all they do is tell us what they are going to do with our money.They have continually told us they don't want to operate a community center but now all of a sudden they want to run a Park District. What a bunch of Hippocrates. Every one watch out for your wallets these guys talk out of the side of their mouths and wont give you the time of day once they have your tax dollars .Just look at what they have done with the East Town Project.Run them out of office and lets get some honest people in their that will help plan for our future not their money grab Brian K Cebe
Tom Watson October 02, 2012 at 03:19 AM
Mr Cebe, I have been pushing for a more balanced park plan including a community center. The Mayor is changing where the money is going so more people are getting more of what they want. He has also reduced the amount for the bond so it is not as expensive. I for one would be happy to meet with you or anyone to discuss your views. That why I am on the City Council. If you want to make a change in how things are run there are council positions up for election next year including the mayor's. Let your voice be heard.
Lauren Padgett October 02, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Thanks for your comment, Tom! It's great to see city council members participating in the conversation here. Are there any plans for a public hearing on parks soon?
Tom Watson October 02, 2012 at 06:23 PM
I enjoy hearing the ideas of the residents and trying to do the best for everyone. The next Park Board meeting is October 8th 6pm at the Justice Center. There is a time for public comments so please come. You have five minutes to voice your ideas or concerns.


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