The View From Denny Park
News and Views From The Superintendent
No. 21 November 7, 2001
A periodic electronic newsletter about Parks and
Recreation news, programs, projects and events from Seattle Parks and
Recreation Superintendent Ken Bounds
ZOO MOVES TOWARD NON-PROFIT MANAGEMENT
We've taken an important step in the transition to non-profit management
of the Woodland Park Zoo. Last week, I sent to the City Council a draft
agreement between the City and the Woodland Park Zoo Society on the
future operations and management of the Zoo.
Under the proposed 20-year agreement, the City would still own the
Zoo, and the Zoo Society would manage it under a contract. The City
would also continue to provide annual public funding, including the
$2.5 million earmarked for the Zoo for each year of the eight-year Pro
The agreement is part of a national trend. Declining public financial
support, coupled with stringent standards for animal care, make non-profit
management an ideal model for zoo operations. Non-profit organizations
now operate more than 60% of city-owned zoos in the country. This allows
zoos more efficiency in operations and more flexibility in fund-raising.
At the same time it enables cities to stabilize their financial support
In 1995, Mayor Norm Rice appointed the 50-member Zoo Commission II,
which concluded that dual management of the Zoo was cumbersome and duplicative.
Of the 388 current Zoo staff members, 229 are City employees and 159
are Zoo Society employees. The commission recommended unifying management
under the non-profit Zoo Society.
Over the past decade, the Woodland Park Zoo Society has become integral
to Zoo operations, contributing more than $20 million to support new
exhibits and educational programs. In addition to its annual support,
the Zoo Society is committed to generating another $60 million for ongoing
needs for animal exhibits, education programs and support facilities.
In reaching the agreement Parks staff and the Zoo Society have worked
closely with Zoo employees, especially those represented by unions,
to develop a plan of transition from City employment to Zoo Society
The draft agreement also lays out a series of important performance
standards and financial audits and safeguards to ensure sound fiscal
management and public accountability, and contains "safety valves"
to ensure both parties meet contract requirements.
The City Council will hold a public hearing on the agreement on Monday,
December 3, 5:30 p.m., in Council Chambers, 11th floor, Municipal Building,
600 4th Ave.
To read a copy of the draft agreement, please visit www.seattle.gov/parks
and click on "What's New" and then "Projects and Plans."
Higher utility costs and declining tax revenue have
combined to create a major budget problem for the City of Seattle for
2002 and possibly beyond.
Unfortunately, this means cuts in programs and services supported by
the City's "General Fund." The General Fund pays for police,
fire, library, health, parks and recreation and other critical services.
This week, I submitted $1.4 million in budget cuts to the Mayor for
his consideration. Although earlier this year we were able to absorb
$1.3 million in utility costs without significantly affecting services,
the new $1.4 million in cuts ultimately do have an impact. Reductions
include $510,000 in administrative costs and efficiencies; $160,000
in Zoo expenses; $258,000 in recreation expenses; $255,000 in park and
facility maintenance costs and $317,000 in other areas.
The major reduction in community recreation is eliminating Sunday operations
at all community centers except for six (plus selected others during
basketball season), and scaling back Saturday operations during the
LOCAL CREWS EXCEL
As the Mariners struggled for their playoff lives on
the East Coast last month, six crews from Seattle Parks and Recreation's
Green Lake and Mt. Baker rowing programs were excelling at the prestigious
Head of the Charles Regatta held on Boston's Charles River October 20
Think Opening Day along the Montlake Cut in Seattle-then imagine the
same kind of competition and excitement for an additional two miles
of racing course. The total length of the Charles River course is a
demanding 3.2 miles. Green Lake's Youth Men's 8 crew (19 and under)
finished the highest of any local boats, winning a medal for its fourth
place time among 44 entrants. In the process, the crew beat out freshman
teams from Yale, Brown and the University of Pennsylvania. The Mt. Baker
Rowing crew finished 34th in the same race.
In other results, Green Lake's Men's Club 8 finished 26th of 67 entrants;
the Women's Club 4 finished 37th of 58, and the Light Women's 4 finished
14th of 16. Mt. Baker's Youth Women's 8 finished 16th of 36.
Congratulations to one and all!
FEDERAL GRANT WILL AID PRATT PARK
Seattle Parks and Recreation received a highly competitive
federal grant last month to expand the play area at Pratt Park.
The U.S. Department of the Interior's National Park Service awarded
a $245,000 Urban Park and Recreation Recovery (UPARR) grant to the department
to add amenities to the play area project that would otherwise have
not been possible, such as a swing set, considerably more ADA improvements,
larger play structures and a play area plaza. Construction on the play
area began in mid-October and will be complete by February 2002.
Seattle's application was selected from 187 proposals requesting $55.2
million from cities and counties throughout the United States.
RARE SEA TURTLE RECOVERING AT AQUARIUM
The Seattle Aquarium is the temporary home to a rare
tropical sea turtle that was found on a beach near Ocean Shores in early
October. Named "Arial" by Aquarium staff, the 67-pound female
sea turtle was suffering from a broken shell and dehydration.
Dr. Janis Joslin of the Woodland Park Zoo is directing the delicate
rehabilitation effort, which consists of gradually warming the turtle,
treating wounds, and administering fluids, antibiotics, vitamins and
food. The good news is that Arial is responding well, having gained
nine pounds so far on a steady diet of squid. The typical sea turtle
recovery process takes two to six months.
Aquarium visitors can view Arial live on a video monitor. Donations
are being accepted to help pay for her care. Please call (206) 386-4329
for more information.
TEENS DISCUSS SEPT. 11
In the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks on the East
Coast, three Seattle Parks and Recreation community centers hosted teen
forums last month to discuss the attacks and the government's response.
Teens gathered at Hiawatha, Meadowbrook and Queen Anne community centers
for the discussion as part of the annual Week Without Violence.
I will be in touch soon.