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Thanks to Bellingham voters for Greenways vote

It means $9M annually for recreation/open spaces

By Neil Schaner Greenways Advisory Committee chair

The City of Bellingham’s Greenways Advisory Committee (GAC) would like to thank the voters for their support of the city’s Greenways program by extending the fifth Greenways levy for the next 10 years.

Your vote means that Bellingham will have over $9 million annually to address adopted Greenways goals and priorities throughout the city’s park system.

The goals of the Greenways program include 1) acquisition of property to connect parks, neighborhoods, open space, and habitat; 2) develop and restore parks, open space, trails and the natural environment; and 3) maintain greenways, open space sites, parks, park facilities and trails. The voter-approved levy included a new focus on climate resiliency for park properties and facilities that will allow expansion of stewardship, restoration, urban forestry, and other climate-focused work.

A new Greenways Strategic Plan was adopted by city council at the end of 2022 and the GAC works with city staff to diligently fulfill the community’s expectations for that plan. We provide recommendations to parks staff to help identify critical acquisition targets that equitably connect parks, neighborhoods, open space, and habitat.

Now that the levy has passed, we’re eager to provide more information about the goals of the Strategic Plan and receive input from you. We’ll be reaching out to Bellingham neighborhoods through the Mayor’s Neighborhood Advisory Commission (MNAC) in the near future. We welcome any members of the public to attend our monthly meetings as well. See cob.org/gov/public/bc/greenway-bc for more meeting details.

We appreciated hearing concerns during the campaign about the need for improved and expanded indoor recreation facilities. Please note the city is well aware of these recreational needs, and work is underway to evaluate opportunities at the civic complex to expand facilities and meet the needs of the community now and into the future.

This effort is led by the Parks and Recreation Department, and will require stakeholder involvement, partnerships, and lots of strategic planning to get the momentum and funding together to achieve what we need for Bellingham. Stay tuned on EngageBellingham.org for updates on this work.

Committee members Dina Dickerson, Scott Foreman-Murray, Sarah Gardner, Kate McDonald, Caleb Savage, David Stalheim, Jacob Stewart and Kelsey Wylie co-signed this commentary.

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