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City of Seattle

April 17, 10:50 AM click here to comment > 6

Supporting Seattle’s Parks

Seattle loves its parks. And so do I. We have a lot of great Parks facilities, and we should ensure that we are giving them the support they need to thrive. To do that, we are planning to put a proposal for new revenue for Seattle Parks on the ballot in 2014.

Green Lake Wading Pool

The existing Parks and Green Spaces Levy expires in 2014. We will be creating a Parks Funding Plan Citizen Committee to consider several options for funding Seattle Parks and Recreation. The Committee will meet from July through December and will make a recommendation in February 2014. In March 2014 we will transmit our recommendation to the City Council. The deadline to put a measure on the August 2014 ballot is May 2014, and the deadline to put a measure on the November 2014 ballot is August 2014.

We will also ask the Committee to take a look at different funding options, including the potential use of a Metropolitan Parks District. They will also examine how we allocate these funds, including the balance between using funds to keep existing facilities open, maintenance, and new land acquisition and facilities.

In the town halls I’ve attended I’ve heard that many people want our existing parks to be maintained and for that to be a focus of a funding measure. We also have a number of great community centers that we are not using to their full potential, and we’ve heard from the community that they’d like to see more open hours at our community centers. In recent years, the recession and the resulting reduction in revenues has meant we’ve had to make some cuts to park maintenance and community center hours. Since 2012 we have been working hard to maintain our current level of community center hours and maintenance. We were able to use the inflation account from the 2008 Parks and Green Space Levy and real estate excise tax revenue to do some maintenance at park facilities, but we know there is more to be done.

The 2012 Library Levy provides one example of how we can provide more service, as it funded additional hours (including having all branches open on Sunday for the first time), expanded collections, more children’s programs, and upgraded computer systems. Communities strongly supported this approach, with the Library Levy receiving support from 62% percent of the public.

I have also heard a desire that we be able to act on opportunities for adding new parks in growing areas or to acquire ecologically significant parcels when they become available. We also know there is a strong desire for new dog parks and more playfields. We’ve managed to expand these over time, but we know that demand is very high for these. The Parks Funding Plan Citizen Committee will have the important job of finding the right balance between taking advantage of new opportunities, and making the most of our existing facilities.

To help examine these options and needs, I asked Seattle Parks and Recreation to develop a Parks Legacy Plan that will outline where the department is headed in the coming years and looks at its highest priorities. You are invited to one of six public meetings between now and May 22 to give your thoughts, comments and suggestions. You can also submit your comments on the Plan directly to Parks by emailing parkslegacy@seattle.gov. The plan will be presented to the Board of Park Commissioners and finalized in time for the Parks Funding Plan Citizen Committee to use it as a basis for studying revenue options and make recommendations about how we spend that revenue.

To assess where they are now, Seattle Parks and Recreation conducted several scientifically and statistically valid surveys of more than 3,500 residents. What they found in the phone survey is that 92% of respondents said Seattle Parks and Recreation facilities meet their needs. They discovered that 85% of respondents said they were either satisfied or very satisfied with our public parks and recreation system. When asked in the survey “if you had $100 to spend on parks, how would you spend it,” respondents said they would spend two-thirds of it on everyday maintenance and major maintenance.

We’re partnering with the public to determine our path forward. I hope you’ll take an opportunity to be a part of this historic effort. If you’d like to read the plan or learn more about the meetings, please visit the Parks Legacy Plan webpage.

Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn

Comments

Comment from Jen Engelke
Time April 18, 2013 at 6:44 pm

I appreciate the Mayor’s ability to oversee & manage many initiatives and projects successfully. From my perspective, he is able to see the ‘big picture’ and move towards solutions that help keep Seattle a great place to live. Thank you!

Comment from Daiva K. Tautvydas
Time April 23, 2013 at 12:34 pm

Please remember our pools during your budget planning. There are so few public pools in Seattle, and most are functional, but old and shabby. We need to maintain the existing pools, and consider adding a 50 meter pool near the north end of Seattle. Right now, the only 50 meter pool we have is in West Seattle. Swim teams and swimming lesson should be available to all, not just those citizens who can afford a club membership.

Comment from RainCityGrl
Time April 24, 2013 at 2:41 pm

I appreciate the wading pools and the public pools. I know they’re expense to operate and maintain, but they’re needed to ensure everyone can safely enjoy the water and learn how to swim. I would be willing to pay more to keep existing services and help older facilities build up a reserve for overhauls.

Comment from M Doyle
Time April 24, 2013 at 5:18 pm

Agree. It is sad how few public pools Seattle has for a city our size. We need to build them in bubbles. The construction cost will be lower and we can enjoy outdoor swimming in the summer.

Comment from David Folweiler
Time April 25, 2013 at 11:35 am

The importance of creating and maintaining open and green spaces can not be overstated. With the tremendous growth in the Ballard area, the demand on existing spaces will skyrocket. Groundswell NW is still working toward the goal of having a park in every arterial quadrant in NW Seattle. We are in strong support of a new levy to fund both acquisition and maintenance of parks in Seattle.

Comment from Tammy
Time May 6, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Dear Mayor McGinnis – we are very lucky to have the beautiful parks in our region. I appreciate that there is much needed revenue to support and maintain these faciltities. Our pools are in desparate need of maintenance and provide a very important role in both fitness and training for water safety. I hope you hold these facilities as one of your highest priorities.