King County voters defeat parks-plus-aquarium bond issue on September 20, 1988.

  • By Alyssa Burrows and Patrick McRoberts
  • Posted 12/25/2002
  • Essay 4086
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On September 20, 1988, King County voters defeat a bond issue calling for $85.9 million for park land and open space acquisition. Of the total, $24.5 million was earmarked for expansion and refurbishment of the Seattle Aquarium.

The bond issue included proposals for buying 250 acres for a park in Sea-Tac, 150 acres on Cougar Mountain in Issaquah, 350 acres around Moss Lake east of Redmond, 60 acres along Mercer Slough in Bellevue, 33 acres next to the Green River in Kent, and 27 acres of wetland in Federal Way. Money was also earmarked to link the Burke Gilman Trail with the existing Sammamish River Trail, as well as to expand the Burke-Gilman trail in the northern direction through Ballard.

Vision Seattle, a citizen activist group in favor of open space, opposed the bond issue because of the aquarium addition. Pat Strosahl, President of Vision Seattle, said the group could not endorse the proposal because it included the aquarium at the expense of more open space for the city of Seattle.

After the bond issue was defeated, Joe Nagel, director of county parks planning and resources, said they (King County Parks) “would be all right,” because the conservations futures tax brought in $4.5 million a year, and in the past the King County Council had agreed to allot a portion of sales tax revenues to parks and open space acquisition, but that the parks department “wouldn’t be able to support the folks in places like Federal Way,” like they’d wanted to. He stated that his chief regret was the loss of money for the Seattle Aquarium, which “needs even more help than county open spaces do.”

A disappointed Mayor Charles Royer had campaigned hard for the bond issue and saw the aquarium expansion as key to an overall improvement plan for the city's waterfront. Some critics questioned why the aquarium issue had been put to a countywide rather than a citywide vote.


“Waterfront and Open-space Levies Defeated,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 21, 1988, pp. A-1, A-5; “Open Space Plan May Be Put on Ballot Today,” Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 10, 1988, p. B-2

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