Give Parks a Piece of Your Mind


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When I chaired the Council’s Parks and Recreation Committee during my first term, I attended a Seattle Department of Parks & Recreation (DPR) public meeting on uses at Wallingford Park/Playfield.

Some community members felt the meeting turned out to be about how tee-ball and youth soccer were to be scheduled for the field, not about whether they should be scheduled at all, which was their expectation. One resident told me “The meeting last night was not productive. There was an agenda, but nothing was actionable.”

This experience left me feeling the need for DPR to improve its outreach practices, which I encouraged then-DPR Superintendent Ken Bounds to pursue.

The following year, he and DPR published the department’s first public involvement policy.

This month presents Seattle residents an opportunity to test it.

DPR is soliciting help from the public in planning the future of Seattle’s parks, programs and community centers as well as other facilities. Their goal is to gather public input for incorporation into their Parks Legacy Plan. The City Council will be presented DPR’s plan for approval in December. Councilmember Sally Bagshaw Chairs the Council’s Parks and Neighborhood Committee.

  • Tuesday, May 7 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.: General Meeting
    Seattle Parks and Recreation Administration Building
    100 Dexter Ave. N
  • Wednesday, May 8 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.: Sports, Recreation, and Aquatics
    Green Lake Community Center
    7201 E Green Lake Dr. N
  • Monday, May 13 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Seniors, Teens Including LGBT, Community Centers And Associated Recreation Council (Arc)
    Northgate Community Center
    10510 5th Ave. NE
  • Thursday, May 16 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.: Environmental Programs, Open Space And Maintenance
    Jefferson Community Center
    3801 Beacon Ave. S
  • Tuesday, May 21 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.: General Meeting
    Dakota Place Park Building
    4304 SW Dakota St.
  • Wednesday, May 22 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.: Immigrant and Refugee Communities
    South Shore K-8 School
    4800 S Henderson St.

    Denny Park ariel 1950

    A 1950 ariel photo of Seattle’s 1st public park, Denny Park, dontated in 1864 by David Denny & Louisa Denny while still a cemetery. Graves were moved at the city’s expense after the Denny’s created an 1883 deed making most of the area a public park. (courtesy Seattle PI Archives)

Some of the questions current DPR Superintendent Christopher Williams and his staff want to ask include “Are we spending resources as effectively as possible? What does the public think of our park system? What are the basic services we provide? Should the community center programs seek to bring in more revenue? What do you think is important to provide through teen programs? How would you prioritize funding dollars for cleaning comfort stations, maintaining sportsfields, and lawn maintenance?”

DPR is also inviting residents to comment on any DPR topic.

Do you know that DPR is a long time supporter of the arts?  It runs arts programs at Magnuson Park and the Alki Arts Studio while partnering with 9 other arts groups, such as Pratt Fine Arts Center, Seattle Public Theater, Spectrum Dance Theater and the Seattle Art Museum.

After being harangued by me over the years to prioritize reconstruction of Building 30 in Magnuson Park, they are doing so as I write. The seismically upgraded building is expected to re-open this fall with at least 20 artist work studios and its large hanger space welcoming back community groups and activities that had been turned away due to safety concerns.

Artspace, a provider of affordable artist live/work space throughout the country, estimated over a thousand working artists are on waiting lists for affordable work studio and live/work studio space in Seattle. 24 artists once worked in Building 11’s studios at Magnuson Park.

Will DPR again seek artists to rent work space in Building 11? How does it plan on working with Magnuson Park’s 20-year old arts advocacy group SPACE – the Sand Point Arts & Cultural Exchange? Will DPR update its system wide 12 year old planning documents for the arts?

To learn more, refer to DPR’s Parks Legacy Plan.

Those who cannot attend a meeting and wish to comment on DPR’s draft plan can email parkslegacy@seattle.gov.

Keep in touch…

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Comment from Donna Hartmann-Miller
Time May 6, 2013 at 6:21 pm

I’m really interested in how these meetings are going to be run. In order for people to give informed and useful answeres it would be good to have information to base opinions on. I’m hoping the Parks Dept starts out the meeting by answering one of the questions you have just listed – What do Parks currently define as “basic services”? I’m really hoping there will also be some specific budget numbers (how much do they spend on items like restrooms, maintaining sports fields, upkeeping plants & trees, etc). I’d like to understand how many people work on each of these things so we all understand when we say something should be prioritized and something should be cut, how many people are we putting out of work. Currently, what is the Parks Dept position on the issues we will be asked about? Back to work for me now.

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