Kingston's Village Green park district measure passing

KINGSTON — A measure creating a taxing district to support a new Kingston community center building was sailing toward approval Tuesday evening as the first wave of primary results were announced.

The Village Green Metropolitan Park District measure had garnered 54.9 percent approval with 1,710 votes counted.

If passed, the district will collect property taxes to pay for operations at a community center building planned for the county-owned Village Green Community Park off West Kingston Road. The community center will include a meeting space, a Boys & Girls Club chapter, a senior center, and possibly the Kingston Kitsap Regional Library branch. The first levy funds would be collected in 2012.

The measure's margin of approval Tuesday was a pleasant surprise, even for some of the district's staunchest supporters.

"I thought it really could have gone either way by 10 percent," said Bobbie Moore, who led the volunteer campaign for the measure.

Moore and four other North Kitsap residents were also on the primary ballot as candidates for a board that will oversee the Village Green park district. Moore, Tracy Darlene Harris, Jason Manges, Patrick Pearson and Jim Moore each ran unopposed for board seats.

Moore said the measure enjoyed overwhelming support when volunteers gathered signatures early this year to support its inclusion on the ballot. As the primary neared, questions rose over the district's taxing power.

Park district supporters said the district would only need to levy about $0.15 per $1,000 dollars of assessed home value to pay for the upkeep of the community center building. But some voters voiced concern the district would tax the full $0.75 per $1,000 allowed by state law.

"We didn't have time to mount any kind of campaign against that," Moore said.

Darlene Harris, who serves as president of the Miller Bay Estates homeowners association said there were mixed feelings about the measure in her neighborhood, but she expected it to pass. Miller Bay is on the outskirts of the proposed taxing district and is home to about 400 families.

"People never want their taxes to go up," Darlene Harris said. "But overall it will be good for the kids, there's nothing for the kids to do."

After watching enthusiasm grow around the park district campaign for months, County Commissioner Steve Bauer said he was not surprised by the primary results.

"I was absolutely positive it was going to pass," Bauer said. "There really wasn't opposition coming up. It's a sign to me that they ran an excellent campaign."

With the park district measure poised for approval, community center supporters can return their full focus to raising construction money.

The Village Green Foundation is pursuing federal and state grants for the building, which has been designed and could be finished as early as 2013. Having a park district to support the community center's maintenance will make securing construction money much easier, Moore said.

"Capital grantors really want to see that you have a plan for keeping the building going," she said.

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