Bolinas parcel tax would renew funding for parks

10/12/2017

Nate Siedman still remembers hitting a homerun during a baseball game on the opening day of Mesa Park in 1995, and “I will keep on remembering,” he said. Now a lawyer, a father and the coach for one of the two Little League teams in Bolinas, Mr. Siedman is watching the upcoming November election closely. 

“Without the funding from Measure F, we essentially cannot take care of our parks,” said Amber Distasi, the treasurer of the Mesa Park board, which stewards both the Mesa Park and the Downtown Park, which many locals still call “Burnt Park.” “During the years we haven’t had that source of funding, things shut down. We have to close the bathrooms, we can’t afford employees for maintenance, we can’t irrigate.” 

Besides soccer and baseball fields, Mesa Park also has a playground and skate park. Downtown Park has a cob oven, and both parks have public bathrooms and drinking water and provide space for many community events throughout the year. 

The cost of operating both has averaged around $70,000 to $80,000 a year; for the last four years, $30,000 of the cost has been provided by an annual local parcel tax of $49 per parcel. (The remaining funds have shown up from Measure A and private donations.) 

If Measure F passes on Nov. 7, the tax will continue at the same rate for the next four years, beginning in fiscal year 2018. 

But the measure requires a two-thirds majority for passage, and it has narrowly failed several times since the Firehouse Community Park Agency first put it on the ballot in 1996. In 2013, the tax bounced back, winning with 72 percent of the vote. 

All five Mesa Park board members are volunteers and the revenue generated by Measure F will exclusively fund the expense of operating the two parks. “We all went out there, just for one day, to help weed the infield and do some basic cleanup and we barely made a dent! It really made me appreciate how much work goes into the maintenance,” Mr. Siedman said, adding that without the fields, Bolinas kids would likely not be able to play in the league.