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Seattle Parks and Recreation

The View From Denny Park

No. 24 March 28, 2002
A periodic electronic newsletter
about Parks and Recreation news, programs, projects and events
from Seattle Parks & Recreation Superintendent Ken Bounds

PRESERVING PARKS AND PROGRAMS

In the wake of cutbacks in park services and maintenance in King County and Washington State parks, is Seattle next?

Not if we can help it.

While Seattle faces similar financial pressures as other local governments, particularly declining revenues and the continuing recession, we are doing everything possible to minimize impacts on our parks and park programs.

The Mayor's proposal to cut $7.1 million in the City's 2002 "General Fund" means about a $700,000 reduction in the Parks budget that we will achieve primarily by trimming administrative costs throughout the department and by not filling vacant positions.

More severe cuts are expected for the 2003-2004 biennial budget; we are now assessing additional efficiency moves, including restructuring our organization, vehicle and equipment reductions, and fee increases. Because the expected magnitude of this budget cut, we will also likely have to consider service cuts such as reducing community center hours or programs. These will be taken where they will have the least inconvenience or impact on our customers. I am open to any suggestions.

I will be sure to keep you informed as these decisions draw near.

CLEAN SEATTLE DEBUTS WITH OTHELLO PARK CLEANUP

Othello Park and the surrounding neighborhood was the beneficiary of Mayor Nickels' first major "Clean Seattle" project. Clean Seattle is Mayor Nickels' initiative to restore Seattle's reputations as one of the cleanest cities in the nation.

On Wednesday, March 6, a small army of City workers including Seattle Parks crews, park neighbors and local businesses worked together to paint the comfort station, replace the playground surface, enhance parks plantings and remove graffiti from public structures. A group of 30 children from New Holly Preschool joined in by planting a flowerbed.

Around the park, workers collected and removed 73 bags of litter, removed 2,000 pounds of debris from a public open space, repaired or replaced 15 traffic signs and cleaned and clipped more than 100 street trees, among many other cleanup activities.

On March 16, 120 volunteers from the Mt. Baker Rowing and Sailing Center braved snowy and windy weather to participate in another Clean Seattle project-the cleanup of a section of Lake Washington Blvd. And on March 27, Mayor Nickels, City crews and volunteers tackled the Lake City neighborhood. More Clean Seattle cleanup days are being scheduled throughout the city.

PRO PARKS GRANTS FOR YOUTH

I am excited about the new matching grants funded through the Pro Parks Levy that will support programs for youth and teens, especially those in "underserved" communities.

Funded with $150,000 a year from the Levy, the Youth/Teen Development Fund recently awarded its first 19 projects chosen from 60 applicants. An evaluation committee of adults and youth from outside the Department reviewed the funding proposals and selected the award winners.

Of the 19 projects, six will benefit low-income youth and teens, 13 will create new programs for ethnic or immigrant populations, five aid homeless youth, four help student dropouts, and two serve youth with disabilities. The program creates new partnerships with outside agencies and organizations by requiring a 50 percent match in funds from the program sponsor.

LEVY OPPORTUNITY FUND: PRELIMINARY RECOMMENDATIONS

The Pro Parks Levy Oversight Committee received 44 nominations for the first cycle of the Opportunity Fund. The Committee made its preliminary recommendations for funding on March 26, including nine acquisitions (Greenwood Park addition, Fremont Peak, Ballard Open Space, Maple Leaf community garden, Pinehurst pocket park, Mount Baker ridge viewpoint, Ercolini property, Junction Plaza, and Gateway North) and seven development projects (Licton Springs Park, International District Community Center, Flo Ware Park, Belltown P-Patch, Hitt's Hill, Mapes Creek walkway, and Graham Hill School playground). Public comments on the preliminary recommendations are scheduled for the Committee's April 23 meeting, with the final recommendations to be forwarded in May from the Committee to the Superintendent and the Mayor.

The Opportunity Fund was a key part of the Levy that was approved by Seattle voters in November 2000. The Levy Oversight Committee recommended that the $10 million Opportunity Fund, which was set up to fund unforeseen park development projects and land acquisitions, include two funding cycles: $6 million in the current funding cycle and $4 million in 2004-2005. In the summer of 2001, the Oversight Committee drafted criteria to evaluate and select Opportunity Fund projects through the first funding cycle. It designated $3 million for acquisition in the underserved urban center villages, University District, Denny Triangle, and Pioneer Square/International District. With the remaining $3 million, the Committee sought nominations for potential park acquisition and development projects. For more information about the Oversight Committee or the Opportunity Fund, please contact Catherine Anstett, catherine.anstett@seattle.gov (206) 615-0386, or visit the web site at www.seattle.gov/parks/proparks/levycommittee.asp

WOODLAND PARK ZOO MOVES AHEAD

The Woodland Park Zoo took some giant steps into the future in recent weeks.

In late February, Deborah Jensen was selected as the new president and Chief Executive Officer of the Zoo. Jensen is nationally recognized conservation scientist who most recently was an executive at the national office of The Nature Conservancy. She will join the Zoo staff on April 29.

In early March, I participated in a ceremony to officially sign the historic agreement that shifts the management and operations of the Zoo to the Woodland Park Zoological Society. Under the 20-year agreement, the City retains ownership of the Zoo and will continue to provide some public funding.

In the meantime, the Zoo's Long-Range Plan is under review by the Park Board, and the Mayor will soon present his recommendations to the City Council for action. The plan updates the Zoo's 1976 plan, which pioneered the concept of naturalistic exhibits, and provides improvements to animal exhibits, visitor facilities and Zoo offices to accommodate the recent growth in Zoo attendance and staff.

FEDERAL FUNDING MAKES A DIFFERENCE

Please let your representatives in Congress know that federal funding makes a big difference at the local level. The recent playground renovation at Pratt Park is a great example: a $245,000 grant from the federal Urban Park and Recreation Recovery Program (UPARR) was an essential part of the funding for this project that developed a state-of-the-art play area in the heart of Seattle's Central Area neighborhood.

Now funding for parks and recreation is threatened. While the President's national 2003 budget recommends $200 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) state assistance, it requests no funds for UPARR. The proposed budget would also redirect $50 million of the LWCF appropriation away from recreation toward support of other programs whose funding has been cut.

Please urge your representatives to support full funding for both LWCF and UPARR. For more information, visit: www.nps.gov/pub_aff/uparr/grants/index.html

I will be in touch soon.

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