Updated March 2013
Q. What is the Greater Clark Parks District?
A. The Greater Clark Parks District was created in February 2005 when voters in the unincorporated urban area outside Vancouver passed Proposition 1.
The result was a property tax-based metropolitan parks district, overseen by the Board of County Commissioners, to pay for maintenance and some construction for 30 neighborhood parks, five community parks, seven miles of walking trails and 41 sports fields.
The remaining property acquisition, planning, design, permitting and construction costs are paid by park impact fees, real estate excise taxes, grants and donations.
Q. Why are you changing the parks district program?
A. The ongoing economic downturn and specifically the depressed housing market has significantly reduced the amount of real estate excise taxes collected in Clark County. From 2006 to 2010, real estate tax revenue dropped by 70 percent.
With such a sharp decline, the Board of County Commissioners decided in early December 2011 to use the remaining real estate tax revenue to make debt payments on the Public Service Center and other county facilities instead of on park projects.
Lower property values also means the amount of property taxes collected for maintenance and operations in the parks district could decline in coming years. In response, the county will reduce park maintenance and operations expenses until the economy recovers.
Q. How many park development projects will be affected?
A. The county has completed construction on 25 parks and 26 sports fields since the Greater Clark Parks District levy was approved by voters in 2005. Development plans for 10 remaining parks and 15 sports fields have been put on hold until funding is available.
Q. How will maintenance be reduced in existing parks within the Greater Clark Parks District?
A. Depending on actual property tax revenues each year, the county may look at making reductions in a variety of park maintenance activities, including mowing, fertilizing and emptying trash.
Q. Does the county have other ideas about how to stretch maintenance dollars?
A. Yes. In November 2010, Clark County Public Works hired a volunteer program coordinator. The county wants residents to volunteer to handle some routine tasks, as well as provide an extra level of care beyond routine maintenance that will continue to be provided by county workers.
Q. Will these changes keep the Greater Clark Parks District financially sound?
A. Projections indicate that with these changes, the program should have sufficient revenues and reserves to maintain and operate the completed parks through 2014. County officials will closely monitor revenues and expenditures and make adjustments as needed.
Q. Luke Jensen Sports Park cost approximately $9.1 million to plan, design and build. Why did the county build this project when it is running short of money?
A. For many reasons, including:
- The parks district was created to serve areas lacking parks and other recreational facilities, including sports fields.
- Sports fields can be a revenue generator, through fees paid by groups to use the fields and through naming and other sponsorship opportunities.
- Childhood obesity, diabetes and other health issues have reached epidemic proportions here and in other communities across the U.S. By building sports fields, the county is making an investment in community health.
- Organized sports offer safe and needed exercise for our youth and provide valuable lessons about teamwork and sportsmanship.
Q. What is the status of the trails portion of the program?
A. The acquisition of trail easements and properties will be delayed until funding is available. Volunteer trail building may move forward in established trail corridors if resources are available. Staff will assess the trail corridors for potential trail building opportunities in coming months. For more information about the trails program, please contact Jean Akers at Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation by calling (360) 487-8320, or emailing Jean.Akers@cityofvancouver.us.
Q. What is the outlook for sports fields?
A. A number of sports leagues have been supportive of the Greater Clark Parks District. They have fields at existing parks and at Luke Jensen Sports Park, which opened in 2012. As funding and partnerships become available, Clark County Public Works and Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation will consider how to move the remaining sports fields forward. For more information, please contact Eric Christensen at Vancouver-Clark Parks and Recreation by calling (360) 487-8306, or emailing Eric.Christensen@cityofvancouver.us.
Q. Where can I get more information?
A. For more information, please contact:
Jeff Mize, Clark County Public Works
Phone: (360) 397-6118 ext. 4398