Bolinas tax maintains safe spaces

10/12/2017

This November, Bolinas residents will vote on Measure F, a parcel tax that provides critical funding for Bolinas parks. Measure F seeks to renew the current tax at the same rate (no increase) for another four years. 

I am a member of the all-volunteer Firehouse Community Park Agency, also known as the Mesa Park board of directors. As the vote approaches, I want to provide a brief history of our parks, highlight the facilities, including recent improvements, and review our current and historical funding situation for both long-time and newer voters.

Bolinas is known for its natural beauty, proximity to the Point Reyes National Seashore and its small beach adjacent to its modest downtown. While Bolinas offers ample outdoor recreational space, the community historically lacked recreation areas for organized sporting activities. To remedy this community deficiency, in 1985 two public agencies operating in the village—the Bolinas-Stinson Union School District and the Bolinas Community Public Utility District—exercised a joint powers agreement to create a new agency charged with providing community recreational opportunities. Thus the Firehouse Community Park Agency was created and set to work establishing and developing recreational facilities at Mesa Park. 

Since its formation, the Mesa Park board has directed the installment and maintenance of soccer, baseball and softball fields used as home fields by our children’s soccer and baseball leagues. These are the only ball fields available to the community, other than a single small multipurpose field on the Bolinas School campus, which has restricted availability.

Mesa Park also maintains two playgrounds, one over sand for toddlers and another over wood chips with swings, slides, a teeter-totter and other features to entertain older children. These playgrounds are the only such publicly available structures in town. 

Mesa Park is also home to a basketball court and the only skate park in West Marin. More recently, Mesa Park installed plumbed bathrooms and drinking fountains, the former replacing long-serving portable units. These improvements have fueled increased usage by community members. The park hosts children’s birthday parties, community fundraisers and soccer and little league baseball games.

Thanks to the generosity of a local philanthropist, we acquired the Downtown Park (formerly called Burnt Park) in 2007. Downtown Park, designed and implemented by community members, is now a symbol of our community spirit. The park provides well-maintained green space for community gatherings as well as a publicly available cob oven for community baking, while maintaining open space in an increasingly occupied downtown area.

Though Mesa Park was born out of the joint powers act of the utility and school districts, no mechanism was provided at its inception for funding this new entity. The parcel tax, which taxes each improved parcel in town $49 annually, provides this crucial support. 

Our board will continue to work toward securing the county funds and federal block grants that have facilitated our large improvement projects, including installing the sports fields, building the bathrooms and upgrading the skate park and playgrounds. 

While we continue this work, we rely on the parcel tax to fund our insurance obligations and the basic services that maintain our lush playing fields, provide clean bathrooms and keep the play spaces safe. 

Please continue to support Bolinas parks. Every vote counts. Vote yes on Measure F.

 

Mark Lucanic researches aging at the Buck Institute and lives in Bolinas with his wife and two young children. He has been a member of the Mesa Park board since 2015.