Yakima city leaders want to secure money for parks

YAKIMA, Wash. -- Yakima City Council wants to lock down more money for parks - but leaders might ask you to make the final decision.

It's a place for kids to play and a spot for a picnic on a sunny day.

"It's where we've met some of our closest friends," said Kelsi Klovdahl.

Kelsi comes to Yakima's parks three days a week. She said the parks need more attention.

"Over at Kissel, the bathrooms are locked and there's a honey bucket, and here at Franklin, there are no bathrooms," said Kelsi.

"If you don't upkeep the park and it just starts running down, well, then you lose the families that use it a lot," said Pam Kelso.

Yakima City Council agrees.

Council members directed staff to draft a charter amendment that would set aside an additional $750,000 annually for parks and recreation. It's money from the general fund.

"We have two pools that are almost 60 years old with no plans to properly maintain or replace them, so this would ensure that those types of situations would not happen in the future," said Yakima City Manager Tony O'Rourke.

The added money would cover maintenance and investments in new facilities. If council approves the draft, Yakima voters would decide if the parks actually get the extra cash.

"What if voters don't approve this?" KIMA asked.

"Still gives the council discretion as to how much they want to invest, but it doesn't lock in the requirement for future councils and future city managers," said O'Rourke.

"It's a place where I want to feel safe coming with my children with or without my husband, and I hope that this will be something that we do for the next 10 to 12 years with my children," said Kelsi.

Yakima City Council will get the draft of the charter amendment in May. If approved, it would be added to the August primary ballot.