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Seattle Parks and Recreation

The View from Denny Park: 
News and Views from the Superintendent
No. 14. April 4, 2001
 

 

A periodic electronic newsletter about Parks and Recreation news, programs, projects and events from Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Ken Bounds.

SPRING AT PARKS AND RECREATION

Welcome to spring! The work of Seattle Parks and Recreation, perhaps more than any other City department, is tied to the turning of the seasons. Like many of you who have gardens and yards to tend to, Parks staff are busy taking care of our hundreds of lawns, flowerbeds, forests and natural areas. Our crews are beginning to mow and edge grass, plant and weed beds of annuals, and clean up beaches and picnic areas.

Also this season, weekend volunteer work parties in parks kick into high gear as community residents and Adopt-a-Park groups gather in dozens of parks to weed, mulch and plant. On Earth Day weekend alone (April 21 and 22), there will be 18 work parties or events throughout the city (visit www.seattle.gov/parks for more info). Our environmental education centers focus on spring happenings with classes and nature walks on bird eggs, blossoming flowers, and polliwogs. The picnic season has officially started this month with the reserving of picnic tables and shelters citywide.

At our community centers, spring is the time for softball, track and field and other outdoor sports. Most of our centers will host spring egg hunts on Easter weekend (April 15), and during Seattle Public School's spring break next week, many community centers will sponsor spring break camps and numerous activities and events for Youth Appreciation Week.

For more information on these and other spring programs and events, please consult our web site at seattle.gov/parks

EAGLES AND FISH IN OUR PARKS

We may live in a densely populated city, but nature is still ever present. Bald eagle sightings have become more common, including a pair of bald eagles at Green Lake Park and near my house above Me-Kwa-Mooks Park.

In the meantime, volunteer fish observers for Seattle Public Utilities have noticed a remarkable increase in the number of salmon returning to Seattle creeks. At Thornton Creek, which empties into Lake Washington at Matthews Beach Park, 89 coho, 5 sockeye and 3 chinook were spotted at the end of last year, a much higher count than the year before. At Longfellow Creek, a good portion of which flows through parkland, the counters tallied 288 coho, about five times the number sighted the year before. At Piper's Creek, which flows into Puget Sound at Carkeek Park, 27 coho and 40 chum returned, more than double the number from 1999. At Taylor Creek near Lakeridge Park, 28 sockeye were found near the mouth; in 1999 there were no salmon.

IMPORTANT FEDERAL PARKS LEGISLATION

If you're interested in federal support for parks and recreation, please let your elected representatives know as soon as possible.

President Bush has proposed full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) at $900 million per fiscal year, including $450 million for matching grants for state and local projects. This is the highest LWCF budget request in history. The White House budget is also expected to request NO funds for the Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Program (UPARR). This program targets minority and underserved urban neighborhoods.

The U.S. Congress, especially the House and Senate Interior appropriations subcommittees, will ultimately determine the level of funding for both programs, and any specific terms or conditions state or local governments must meet.

Retaining all or a significant portion of the President's LWCF request will be a challenge in the face of congressional criticism. Parks and recreation advocates must press the case for these funds, and for not allowing diversion of the funds for non-park purposes.

You can do this by writing the following government officials: The President, The White House, Washington D.C., 20500 and The Honorable Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior, Washington, D.C., 20240. Thank them for their support for LWCF, particularly the state assistance program. Also write your U.S. representatives and urge them to support the President's request, citing the social and environmental benefit of investing in local parks and recreation, and to support the National Recreation and Park Association's $100,000 UPARR request. Written (not e-mail) comments may be submitted no later than April 16. Our state representatives on the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee include Rep. George Nethercutt, 223 Canon House Office Bldg., Rep. Norm Dicks, 2467 Rayburn House Office Bldg., and Sen. Patty Murray on the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee.

URBAN PARKS DIRECTORS MEET IN SEATTLE

Late last month I had the privilege of hosting parks and recreation directors from nine North American cities as part of a regular meeting of the Urban Parks and Recreation Association. The directors hailed from Minneapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Portland, Boston, Vancouver, B.C., El Paso and Louisville, Kentucky. Joining us was the executive director of the National Recreation and Park Association. All were impressed with the beautiful sunny weather we had arranged, and the parks and facilities we visited. They were also impressed with our active neighborhood organizations, our large number of volunteers and our local levy successes.

I came away from the meeting with interesting observations about how other cities operate. For instance:

* El Paso has had great success in requiring sportsmanship training for parents with children enrolled in sports programs.

* Milwaukee's community recreation program is part of its school district; 76 public schools become community centers at night (a.k.a. "Lighthouse Schools").

* Vancouver has formed Neighborhood Integrated Service Teams, like Seattle's Neighborhood Action Teams, to deal with long-standing neighborhood problems.

* San Francisco is implementing a $400 million capital program of its own.

It was extremely rewarding to share successes and challenges.

SCULPTURE PARK LAND PURCHASE

You may have heard that the City Council authorized Seattle Parks and Recreation to buy 0.3 acres of property at 10 Broad St. to complete the assembly of land needed for the development of the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park. The Sculpture Park will be developed on six acres of land near the waterfront north of Broad St. and south of Myrtle Edwards Park. Parks and Recreation has been working with the museum on planning and design of the park, including pedestrian and street improvements. One cornerstone piece in the sculpture park will be Alexander Calder's "Eagle," which is located temporarily in front of the Seattle Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park. Check it out!

THE ZOO'S LONG-RANGE PLAN

This week, we released the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Woodland Park Zoo's proposed Long-Range Plan 2001. The plan is an update of the zoo's 1976 Long-Range Plan and is a physical development roadmap for the next 20 years. It places more emphasis on the zoo's public education mission and calls for long-needed new facilities for jaguars, wild dogs and tigers, in addition to including a proposal to build a parking garage.

The 30-day review and comment period on the Draft EIS closes on May 1, 2001. For more information on the plan, please consult the web site www.zoo.org

I will be in touch soon.

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