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The Green Trail: Seattle Parks & Recreation e-Newsletter
In this issue: Parks and Green Spaces Levy | The Seattle Aquarium Swims Free |
Our Extraordinary Volunteers | Cal Anderson Parks gets national recognition | What's in a name | Can you "bear" it? | And now for some kudos | Meet the Family | Upcoming Meetings & Events

Greetings, Green Trail Readers

Understanding and keeping up with what’s happening in the community is vital to making Seattle Parks and Recreation successful. That’s why in 2009, we held eight "Night with the Superintendent" neighborhood meetings at community centers throughout the city. with the express purpose was simply to brainstorm, listen and develop relationships to best respond to the needs of residents.

At these meetings, neighbors had the opportunity to meet the staff who serve the community, and to have personal conversations with them about what is working and what can be improved.

The meetings have been so successful that we plan to hold more in the coming year. Half the meetings in 2010 will be at community centers, and half will be off-site at other community gathering places. Meeting dates will be announced in The Green Trail and on the Trumba Calendar at

Parks and Green Spaces Levy

Just one year ago, you – the community – overwhelmingly supported the passage of a $146 million Levy that provides money for new neighborhood parks and green spaces and development of playfields, reservoir lid parks, playgrounds, community gardens, and city owned cultural facilities.

Since that time, we have completed the planning, design and construction of four play areas, two athletic fields, a new pathway into Magnuson Park and Chinook Beach Park shoreline restoration, added 2.53 acres to the park system and started planning more than 20 projects that will be in construction in 2010.

Taylor Graham of the Seattle Sounders Football Club
Taylor Graham of the Seattle Sounders Football Club gives tips to soccor players during the grand opening of the renovated Lower Woodland Playfields

Completed play areas:

  • Atlantic Street Playground
  • Bayview Playground
  • Bhy Kracke Playground
  • Brighton Playground

Completed playfields:

  • Lower Woodland Park Field #2
  • Lower Woodland Park Field  #7

Completed special projects:

  • Magnuson Park Shoreline and Entry Improvements
  • Chinook Beach Park Renovation

Newly acquired properties at:

  • Mee Kwa Mooks Natural
  • Duwamish Head Greenbelt near the West Seattle Bridge
  • Thornton Creek
  • Bell Street Blvd right-of-way

In 2010, we’ll plan and construct another 20 projects, and hope to acquire new park land in Lake City, Capitol Hill, First Hill and Greenwood-Phinney Ridge.

In January, we’ll begin the process of distributing $7 million of the $15 million Opportunity Fund. The fund is for community-initiated park acquisition and development projects. To help the community apply for these funds, we will hold four technical workshops on January 5, 7, 12, and 14, 2010. Proposal letters are due February 1, 2010. For more details on meeting times and places, see the Upcoming Meetings and Events list at the bottom of this email.

To learn more about how to get involved or the Opportunity Fund process, please visit

The Seattle Aquarium

On Monday, December 14, City Council passed legislation that authorizes the Executive to sign an Agreement allowing the nonprofit Seattle Aquarium Society (SEAS) to operate and manage the Seattle Aquarium for the next 20 years, continuing its focus on marine conservation and education for the Puget Sound area. This idea was hatched over 10 years ago to bring the Aquarium into line with national best practices of City-owned and nonprofit-managed aquariums and to best serve the needs of the community.

Below is a message from SEAS Board Chair Bob Davidson.

Seattle Aquarium
Visitors to the Seattle Aquarium enjoy learning more about the tide pool exhibit

It is my personal feeling that this transition represents the best approach for the Aquarium to fulfill its mission in the future. Although SEAS will be operating the facility, the City as the owner will continue to be involved in maintaining the physical plant, in approving all major SEAS-initiated capital improvements, and in helping to develop a future Aquarium Master Plan that is consistent with the Citys Waterfront Planning efforts.

The Agreement was reached after a lengthy, participatory negotiation process which followed the framework principles laid out by City Council while also meeting the needs of the Executive, the Aquarium employees and SEAS. The Agreement calls for SEAS to assume daily management/operation of the Aquarium in July of 2010 and will receive no operating subsidy from the City. SEAS will set the amount of all prices and admissions fees so they are affordable for Seattle families, and will continue the programs to allow attendance for those who cannot afford to pay for tickets.

City employees working at the Aquarium will have up to five years to transfer to SEAS employment. SEAS will provide similar compensation and benefits to transferring employees as they were previously receiving as City employees. As we negotiated over the past nine months, we initiated a regular program of communication with the Aquarium employees, launching two surveys to ascertain their concerns and hopes for the transition.

We communicated with the five unions that represent employees at the Aquarium and reviewed with them the proposed employee benefits package which was developed to ensure fair and equitable treatment for employees. SEAS will soon be negotiating these benefits with the various labor unions.

Our focus and mission to protect the environment and educate the public marine conservation remains the same. Patrons can anticipate the same quality experience that you have come to expect from a visit to the Seattle Aquarium. We appreciate your patronage and look forward to bringing you new, engaging and interesting programming and exhibits.

Ill see at the Aquarium!

Our Extraordinary Volunteers

Every year, our volunteers make extraordinary contributions to Seattle Parks and Recreation. In 2008, almost 40,000 individuals volunteered for Seattle Parks and Recreation, contributing more than 300,000 hours of service, worth nearly $6 million.

They did everything from coaching basketball to pulling invasive ivy plants from our parks to helping maintain our website.

Stacy Thurston receiving the Inspiring Others Award.
Stacy Thurston, a blind volunteer at the Seattle Aquarium, speaks to the crowd after receiving the Inspiring Others Award.

We are deeply grateful for the time, energy and commitment of our volunteers. Our volunteers help make us one of the premiere park and recreation organizations in the country.

If you've ever thought about volunteering, now is the perfect time. We have many wonderful volunteer opportunities just waiting to be filled. For a list of opportunities, please visit our online calendar at

Every year, we host the Denny Awards, a reception and awards ceremony that recognizes the outstanding work contributed by our volunteers. Anyone who has volunteered throughout the year in any capacity may attend, and we host the event at places such as the Olympic Sculpture Park, the Seattle Aquarium, and this year at the Northwest African American Museum.

Its always difficult to choose Denny Award winners -- especially so this year, as we had a bumper crop of nominations. Below are this years winners:

  • Brewster Denny
    Superintendents Tribute Award
    for the Denny familys ongoing support of Parks

  • Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center Task Force
    Superintendents Special Recognition Award
    for their work on creating a plan for the centers future

  • Bank of America
    Corporate Giving Award
    for its work on the Delridge/KaBOOM playground renovation

  • Ernie Chatters
    Leading By Example Award
    for his work as a basketball coach

  • Lynn Ferguson
    Park Stewardship Award
    for her at Magnuson Park

  • Friends of Madrona Woods Park
    Community Stewardship Award
    for the Madrona Woods restoration and creek daylighting

  • Steve Garber
    Associated Recreation Council Volunteer of the Year
    for his work at the Japanese Garden

  • Dallon Martinez
    Up and Coming Youth Award
    for his work in the Youth Engaged in Service program

  • Lillian Riley
    Lifetime Achievement Award
    for her work in Groundswell NW

  • Stacey Thurston
    Inspiring Others Award
    for her work at the Seattle Aquarium

  • Charlie Zaragoza
    Leading By Example Award
    for his work on the Associated Recreation Council Board

Cal Anderson Parks gets national recognition, Homepage for the worlds business leaders and the web edition of Forbes Magazine, has named Cal Anderson Park one of the 12 best urban parks in the United States.

The story, Americas Best City Parks, says of Cal Anderson Park, When a federal regulation required drinking-water reservoirs to be covered, Seattle took the opportunity to make its Lincoln Reservoir roof double as park space. The result, says Peter Harnik of the Trust for Public Land, was beautiful parkland. The recently redesigned space, in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood, includes paths, wading pools and playing fields.

Cal Anderson Park
Cal Anderson Park

The park recently underwent a major transformation after Seattle Public Utilities covered the reservoir in 2004. Citizen groups Groundswell off Broadway and Friends of Seattle Olmsted Parks, along with Seattle Parks and Recreation and a design team headed by the Berger Partnership landscape architecture firm created plans to re-make the site.

With funding from the Pro Parks Levy approved by Seattle voters in 2000, the State Recreation and Conservation Office, and $1.2 million raised by the community, Parks carried out the plan for the park.

The newly developed park, which included a renovation of Bobby Morris Playfield, features:

  • The renovated Shelterhouse, which includes a multipurpose room, outdoor restrooms, a plaza, and storage for maintenance equipment. This new community space, completed in 2003, is seeing a lot of use for community meetings, events, and performances.

  • Olmsted-inspired improvements include a fountain, texture pool, and reflecting pool (entitled Waterworks, by artist Doug Hollis), promenade paths, landscaping, an irrigation system, and lighting.

The park is named after the late Cal Anderson, a decorated Vietnam veteran who served as an aide to the late City Councilmember George Benson and to Mayor Charley Royer, and who was elected the states first openly gay legislator.

What's in a name

We have recently named a new park and re-named an established park.

Seven Hills Park
This idea was suggested by the first grade students at St. Josephs school in Capitol Hill, which is near the new park at the at the northeast corner of E Howell St. and 16th Ave. E. The students researched ideas and submitted Seven Hills Park after the art that will be placed in the park.

I visited with them recently to thank them for their participation, and they were so excited that St. Josephs school has offered up their choir for the ribbon cutting ceremony. The park is expected to open in the spring.

The art element, Seven Hills of Seattle, designed by Mithun Landscape Architects, includes a grouping of seven boulders for creative play and seating that represent the seven hills of Seattle, called out in an early effort by early 20th century civic boosters to liken Seattle to Rome. (The hills are First Hill, Second Hill [Central Area ridge], Denny Hill [now the Denny Regrade and Belltown], Capitol Hill, Yesler or Profanity Hill [actually part of First Hill], Beacon Hill, and Queen Anne Hill. Some accounts include Magnolia Bluff, Sunset Hill, Duwamish Head, and West Seattle Hill.

Parks acquired the Capitol Hill site in 2007 with funding from the 2000 Pro Parks Levy and King County Conservation Futures tax revenues. The approved plan consists of an open lawn in the middle bordered by a collective garden to the north and a crushed rock plaza and a pathway lined with trees to the south. Other elements include a garden walk, steps, a plaza and benches, barbeque, a picnic table, and an art element. Construction on the site, also funded by the Pro Parks Levy, is scheduled to be completed by spring 2010.

Virgil Flaim Park
Parks acquired this Lake City site, located at 12312 26th Ave. NE, from Seattle Public Schools in 1987 after Lake City Elementary School, for which it served as the playground, was surplused. Citizens and groups submitted nine suggestions for the parks name, and the Naming Committee agreed on the name Virgil Flaim Park after the long time Lake City resident and active Lions Club member.

Flaims personal initiative led to many improvements to the Lake City community, including this park. He was executive director of the Lake City Community Center from 1986 until his retirement in 2001.

For information about other upcoming park naming opportunities, please contact Paula Hoff, Seattle Parks and Recreation, at 206-615-0368 or

Can you "bear" it?

With waters expected in the range of 41 degrees Fahrenheit, our annual New Years Day Polar Bear Plunge is for only the bravest among us. Heres the idea: you and about 1,000 of your friends and neighbors wriggle into your bathing suits and head over to Matthews Beach for a quick dip in Lake Washington. Sound like fun? You bet it is.

Our Polar Bear Plunge at Matthews Beach
Our Polar Bear Plunge at Matthews Beach attracted 1,000 swimmers in 2009

Seattle Parks and Recreation and the Meadowbrook Community Center Advisory Council will co-sponsor the eighth Annual Polar Bear Swim at high noon on Friday, Jan. 1, 2010 at Matthews Beach, 9300 51st Ave. NE. Registration starts at 11:30 a.m.

There will be refreshments and a 2009 Official Patch of Courage for all heroic polar bears who immerse themselves neck-deep in the lake, to prove to friends and loved ones that they actually braved the frigid waters.

This year, dress up in a costume! Sign our memory book at The Polar Bear Plunge Blog.

And well once again feature the new Polar Cub Club, a special time just before the polar bears plunge, for younger folks or people who need a little bit more room.

At the 2008 swim, the turnout set a record, and Parks staff distributed Polar Bear Vitamins (marshmallows) to each bear who felt he or she needed an edge. Parks offers a few tips for enjoying a fun, safe swim:

  • Come early, and carpool or take the bus.
    You can plan your trip with King County Metro Trip Planner

  • Talk to your doctor
    If you have heart problems or other serious medical concerns, we recommend you consult your health care professional before taking the Polar Plunge. If you dont go in the water, come and watch!

  • Dont drink alcohol
    It doesnt warm you up, and it accelerates hypothermia.

  • Do not exceed 15 minutes
    Dont stay in the water for longer than 15 minutes; you lose body heat 25 times faster in water than in air.

  • Keep your clothes on until you are ready
    Dont take off your outer clothing until youre ready to get in the water, and remove wet clothing before getting into dry clothes.

  • Dress for the occasion!
    Costumes are part of the fun, and are welcome!

The Polar Bear Plunge was the first official event of its kind in the Seattle area. Janet Wilson, the Aquatic Center Coordinator at Meadowbrook Pool, started the event on January 1, 2003. About 300 people participated in that first Polar Bear Plunge, and since then the attendance has soared to almost 1,000 brave bears of every age. The plunge has inspired other, similar events in the Seattle area.

Said one Parks wag, "Plungers are 'polarized' toward one of two styles. Some luxuriate in the refreshingly brisk waters. Others stay in as long as they can 'bear' it."

And now for some kudos

FBI Director's Community Leadership Award

Seattle Parks and Recreation Teen Development Leader Dawn Bennet, who works at the Garfield Teen Life Center, has received the prestigious Federal Bureau of Investigation Directors Community Leadership Award for her work with young people at the center.

Dawn Bennet
Dawn Bennet

In 1990, the FBI instituted the award to recognize individuals and organizations throughout the country for their efforts in the pursuit of a drug-free America. The program was later expanded to include efforts in crime, gang, and violence prevention along with drug prevention. The FBI chose Dawn based on these criteria:

  • Dawn is an outstanding volunteer in working with youth, the community, and law enforcement
  • She works with youth in the communitys school system in advancing crime, drug, gang, and violence education awareness and curriculum development.

Big Bertha Landes Award

Virginia Swanson, who has chaired the Citys Special Events Committee for more than 25 years, and is a Seattle Parks and Recreation contract employee, has received the Big Bertha Landes Award from the Fremont Chamber of Commerce. The award recognizes women who take charge and take action.

Virginia Swanson
Virginia Swanson

The award is in recognition of the assistance Swanson has provided over the years in support of special events in Fremont, such as the Red Bull Soap Box Derby, Fremont Fair and Solstice Parade, Fremont Trolloween and Fremont Oktoberfest.

The Special Events Committee is comprised of City department representatives and citizens. They review applications for large special events, set conditions to mitigate neighborhood and business impacts, and issue permits. They issue about 300 permits a year.

Meet the Family

Our employees work hard every day to ensure that the public has clean, accessible parks and interesting, relevant programs throughout the City. We do everything from buying new parks to inventorying trees to operating community centers and pools.

Here are just a few of the employees who make up Seattle Parks and Recreation. They both joined our team recently.

Prudence Miles

Prudence Miles

Q: When did you start with Seattle Parks and Recreation?
A: April 21, 2009

Q: What is your job title?
A: Senior Personnel Specialist in the Human Resources Unit

Q: Specifically, what do you do for Parks?
A: I work in Employee Relations so I work with employees and their relationship with the organization. This can take the form of meeting with employees and supervisors when there is a performance problem, or working with the entire department to see where we can make changes and improvements.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.
A: I grew up in Seattle but moved away after high school. I graduated from Washington State University, and after a stint in the Peace Corps, I settled in Corvallis, Oregon, where I worked in a number of fields, most recently at Oregon State University in the Office of Affirmative Action and Equal Opportunity. I returned to Seattle about two years ago.

I enjoy gardening both in my yard and in my P-patch at Bradner Gardens Park. I live in the Mt. Baker neighborhood with my partner and our two cats.

Q: Why do you work in public service?
A: I believe that responsive local government is an asset to the community and that we have the opportunity to provide positive services and experiences to residents and visitors. I have worked for three different municipalities in my career, and I find the work environment to be positive and supportive.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: Definitely the people. The diversity in our workforce helps me keep learning and developing my skills. I enjoy the variety of issues that come across my desk and being able to work with the department in a problem solving role.

Q: How do you contribute to the departments mission statement: "creating community through people, parks and programs"?
A: I see my role as working mainly with the people aspect of the mission and helping to ensure that our people are at their best so that they can provide the best parks and programs to our city and citizens.

Ron Harris-White

Ron Harris

Q: When did you start with Seattle Parks and Recreation?
A: November 16, 2009

Q: What is your job title?
A: Manager, Special Projects

Q: Specifically, what do you do for Parks?
A: I support the Strategic Action Plan through volunteer program direction of Green Action Partnership (formerly Clean & Green Seattle), an interdepartmental, private/public partnership; I participate in strategic partnerships development; I support Seattle Public Utilities/Parks nexus issues; I support the Strategic Action Plan through Race and Social Justice Initiative direction as we address the changing needs of Seattle's diverse communities under the leadership of the McGinn Administration and Parks and Recreation.

Q: Tell us a little about yourself.
A: I am a family man. I believe in the importance of relationships. I have been married for more than thirty-five years. My wife and I have successfully raised three intelligent, educated and well mannered human beings. I am an avid reader. I write. I have mentored more than 20 adults.

Q: Why do you work in public service?
A: I believe in civic responsibility and service. Parks and Recreation is the perfect place to serve the public and build extended families.

Q: What do you enjoy most about your job?
A: I enjoy people and relationships.

Q: How do you see yourself contributing to our mission statement of "creating community through, people, parks and programs"?
A: I want to help Parks build new relationships and improve our customer service to our diverse communities.

Upcoming Meetings & Events

For more information on these events, visit Seattle Parks online calendar.

Beacon Hill Playground Renovation Open House
Tuesday, January 5, 2010, 6:30 8pm
Jefferson Park Community Center
3801 Beacon Ave S
Seattle, WA 98108-1520

Parks and Green Spaces Levy Opportunity Fund Technical Assistance Meeting
Tuesday, January 5, 2010, 6:30 8pm
Greenwood Library
8016 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103-4229

Fairmount Park Play Area Renovation
Wednesday, January 6, 2010, 6 7:45pm
High Point Branch Library
3411 SW Raymond St
Seattle, WA 98126-2953

Associated Recreation Council Board Meeting
Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010, 6:30 8:30 p.m.
Park Board Room
100 Dexter Ave. N
Seattle, WA 98109

Wallingford Community Council Meeting*
Wednesday, January 6, 2010, 7 9 p.m.
Good Shepherd Center
4649 Sunnyside Ave. N
Seattle, WA 98103
*Superintendent Tim Gallagher will attend this meeting.

Brighton Play Area Dedication
Thursday, January 7, 2010 2:30 4 p.m.
6000 39th Ave S
Seattle WA 98118

Board of Park Commissioners Public Meeting
Thursday, Jan. 7, 6:30 p.m.
Park Board Room
100 Dexter Ave. N
Seattle, WA 98109

Garfield Playfield Baseball Field Renovation
Thursday, January 7, 2010 7 8 p.m.
Garfield Community Center
2323 E. Cherry Street
Seattle, WA 98122

Parks and Green Spaces Levy Opportunity Fund Technical Assistance Meeting
Thursday, January 7, 2010, 6:30 8pm
High Point Community Center
6920 34th Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98126-4217

Skateboard Park Advisory Committee Meeting
Monday, January 11, 2010, 7 9pm
Parks Headquarters
100 Dexter Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109-5102

Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center Task Force
Monday, Jan. 11, 2010, 6:30 p.m.
Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center
104 17th Ave. S
Seattle, WA 98144

Parks and Green Spaces Levy Opportunity Fund Technical Assistance Meeting
Tuesday, January 12, 2010, 6:30 8pm
Park Board Room
100 Dexter Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109-5102

Sandel Park Play Area Renovation Community Meeting
Wednesday, January 13, 2010, 6:30 7:45pm
Greenwood Branch Library
8016 Greenwood Ave N
Seattle, WA 98103-4229

Washington Park Arboretum Master Plan Implementation Open House
Wednesday, January 13, 2010, 6:30 7:30pm
Washington Park Arboretum
Graham Visitor Center
2300 Arboretum Dr E
Seattle, WA 98112-2300

Bell Street Park Boulevard Community Meeting
Wednesday, January 13, 2010, 7 9pm
SAM Olympic Sculpture Garden
The PACCAR Pavilion
2901 Western Ave
Seattle, WA 98121-1025

Lower Kinnear Park Conceptual Design Workshops
Thursday, January 14, 2010, 6:30 9pm
Bayview Retirement Community
11 W Aloha St
Seattle, WA 98119-3743

Parks and Green Spaces Levy Opportunity Fund Technical Assistance Meeting
Thursday, January 14, 2010, 6:30 8pm
New Holly Learning Center
7058 32nd Ave S
Seattle, WA 98118-6401

Matthews Beach Play Area Renovation Public Meeting
Wednesday, January 20, 2010, 7 8:30pm
Garden Room at the Brig in Magnuson Park
6330 NE 74th St
Seattle, WA 98115-8157

Lawton Park Play Area Renovation Public Meeting
Thursday, January 21, 2010, 6:30 8pm
Lawton Elementary
4000 27th Ave W
Seattle, WA 98199-1502

Parks and Green Spaces Levy Oversight Committee Meeting
Monday, January 25, 2010, 7 9pm
Parks Headquarters
100 Dexter Ave N
Seattle, WA 98109-5102

Bar-S Play Field snack shack and storage upgrade
Wednesday, January 27, 2010 7 - 8 p.m.
Alki Community Center
5817 SW Stevens St.
Seattle, WA 98116

Board of Park Commissioners Public Meeting
Thursday, Jan. 28, 7 p.m.
Park Board Room
100 Dexter Ave. N 98109

9th Avenue NW Park Development Public Meeting #3
Thursday, January 28, 2010, 6:30 8pm
Whittier Elementary School, Lunchroom
1320 NW 75th Street
Seattle, WA 98117

For more information call: (206) 684-4075

"Creating community through people, parks, and programs."

Want The Green Trail e-Newsletter delivered directly to your e-mail? Contact Joelle Hammerstad at

Updated December 22, 2009

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