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Seattle Parks and Recreation

The View From Denny Park

No. 23 February 8, 2002
A periodic electronic newsletter about Parks and Recreation news, programs, projects and events from Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Ken Bounds


For the past year, the Department has worked with athletic field users and other citizens on the update of the Joint Athletic Facilities Development Program (JAFDP). Originally written in 1997, the update presented an opportunity to look more broadly at the improvement of athletic fields throughout the city so that future development increases the availability of safe, quality fields to play on and decreases the impacts of lights and field use on residents.

Citizens have weighed in on the current draft of the JAFDP since August, most recently at a Jan. 24 public hearing before the Board of Park Commissioners. As a result, significant changes have been proposed for the JAFDP and we will revise our field scheduling policy and sports participation policy and develop lighting design guidelines to respond to this feedback. The Park Board will make recommendations on these issues throughout the winter and early spring. More detailed information is available at


Mayor Greg Nickels has come out of the chute with a "get it done" plan to improve the efficiency and quality of City services. As he said in his State of the City speech last month, his mission is "to make a difference in people's lives."

The Mayor's 100-Day Agenda focuses on four major issues:
* Strengthening the region's economy
* Reducing traffic congestion
* Improving Public Safety
* Strengthening Seattle's Communities

Seattle Parks and Recreation's role is key to the last goal, particularly in the work we do to preserve the environment and keep Seattle clean. In the coming weeks, we will be working with other City departments on targeted cleanup projects throughout the city. Of course, we also make our communities stronger through our network of community facilities, places where people gather, play, learn and connect with each other.

Our first 100 days will be full of milestones and progress on the Pro Parks and Community Center levies and the rest of our substantial Capital Improvement Program, and the day-to-day business of caring for our many parks and park facilities, and providing high quality recreational programming for people of all ages.

For more information on the Mayor's 100-day Agenda, please visit the web site


In a few short years, the Martin Luther King Day holiday has become a national day of community service-"a day on rather than a day off." I spent most of the chilly Monday morning that day, Jan. 21, with more than a hundred volunteers, including Gov. Gary Locke, who put together a new play area at Whitworth Elementary School. In the spirit of an old-fashioned "barn raising" we fastened together various parts of the play equipment and readied them for assembly on the site.

Spearheaded by the Seattle Parks Foundation and funded by the Department's Gray to Green Program and the Department of Neighborhoods' Neighborhood Matching Fund, the project at Whitworth replaced one of the "worst play areas in the School District" with a state-of-the-art play structure for the benefit of Whitworth students and families in the surrounding neighborhood. We've partnered with the School District and community groups on more than a dozen similar projects to improve schoolyards through the Gray to Green Program.

Just a few miles north at the Garfield Teen Life Center, a diverse group of young people and their families gathered that day to honor Dr. King by discussing what the "dream" of the great civil rights leader means today. Joined by Mayor Greg Nickels and Deputy Parks Superintendent Patricia McInturff, discussion panelists and audience members shared personal experiences and pushed themselves to further the dream through personal commitment. This prompted one young man to remark, "Since I cannot change the color of my skin, I will strive to better the content of my character," echoing the words of Dr. King himself.


Earlier this week, I was thrilled to greet the Seattle Postmaster General and community leaders at a ceremony to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Langston Hughes, one of the finest poets and authors in our nation's history and a leader in the Harlem Renaissance. Appropriately enough, the ceremony was held at our own Langston Hughes Cultural Arts Center, and featured music, readings and the unveiling of the new Langston Hughes commemorative postage stamp, part of the U.S Postal Service's Black Heritage series of stamps. The Cultural Arts Center will be honoring the life of its namesake throughout the year.


The National Parks and Recreation Association has awarded Seattle-a city surrounded by water-its 2002 Excellence in Aquatics Award. We are proud to have maintained and expanded our services to the public in spite of aging facilities and tightening budgets. Each year more than a million people enjoy a variety of active and passive aquatic opportunities at Seattle Parks and Recreation swimming pools (of which we have 10), lifeguarded beaches (9), small craft centers (2), wading pools (27), boat ramps (7), and shoreline access (24 miles).

In 2002, we will provide vouchers for free swimming lessons for all third and fourth graders in Seattle Public Schools as part of the Learn to Swim Program funded by the Pro Parks Levy. These lessons will be among more than 350,000 swim lessons provided to people of all ages annually by our pools staff. Our two small craft centers at Green Lake and Mount Baker on Lake Washington have never been busier with classes and competitions in rowing, sailing, canoeing and kayaking. Seattle Parks teams and individuals have won a number of titles at national regattas.

A tip of our oars to manager Kathy Whitman and her Aquatics Program staff who keep our pools safe and offer such a great array of programs and classes.

I will be in touch soon.

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