By Eric Fruits, Ph.D.
By now, Oregon voters have received their ballots for the November 5 election. One of the items is Measure 26-203: a $475 million bond measure by Metro, the regional government for the Portland area.
Metro wants the money so it can buy more land for its so-called parks and nature program, a program that has shifted from providing parks for people to more vague and speculative objectives.
In Metro’s own words, the initial promise in 1995 was to “provide areas for walking, picnicking and other outdoor recreation.” This year’s measure now gives only passing mention to parks. And, it makes no promises of new parks, only preservation and maintenance of existing parks. In terms of bang for the buck, that’s a lot of bucks but not much bang.
Despite Metro’s earlier promises to provide parks for people, the agency has opened only seven parks and natural areas to the public over the last quarter-century. In some cases, promised parks never arrived.
Metro has about $30 million still sitting in its parks and nature bond funds, and it has an operating levy that runs through 2023. Voters should reject Measure 26-203 and urge Metro to use the money it already has to turn some of the land it’s already acquired into the parks that people demand.
Eric Fruits, Ph.D. is Vice President of Research at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization.