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The View From Denny Park

No. 25. April 26, 2002
A periodic electronic newsletter
about Parks and Recreation news, programs, projects and events
from Seattle Parks & Recreation Superintendent Ken Bounds

The View from Denny Park: News and Views from the Superintendent

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


Earth Day is officially celebrated on April 22 each year, but we have expanded the concept to the entire month of April.

During April 2002, Seattle Parks and Recreation volunteer coordinators organized 89 work parties, half of them on Earth Day Weekend, April 20-22. Hundreds of volunteers helped restore parks citywide by removing blackberry and other "invasive" plants, cleaning up litter, mulching, edging and planting.

I joined in the activity by working at South Lake Union Park with a group of about 30 volunteers from the Rotary Club of Seattle and the Department's Teens for Recreation and Environmental Conservation (TREC). We restored trails, picked up litter, and removed blackberry bushes.


Of course, our commitment to the environment is year-round and ever growing. The most exciting development is the formation of a new environmental stewardship unit in the Department funded by the 2000 Pro Parks Levy. Manager Leila Wilke and three newly hired environmental stewardship coordinators have begun to integrate environmental education programs into community centers and summer day camps. The idea is to extend learning about the environment beyond our four established environmental education centers (Discovery Park, Carkeek Park, Camp Long and Seward Park) to our 24 community centers.

One new approach to environmental programming came out of the work of a diverse team of Parks staff called the Neighborhood Environmental Action Team (NEWT). Under the leadership of Cindi Shiota, NEWT developed a manual on environmental stewardship programs that includes easy-to-implement sample programs. These week-long programs on recycling, water conservation, pollution, insects, trees, geology and other topics, will feature activities in the context of learning key lessons about the environment. The Environmental Stewardship Unit will begin using the NEWT model this summer.

Elsewhere in Parks, we continue to train our staff in "Best Management Practices" for maintenance activities, reduce the use of pesticides in our parks, conserve water and energy, restore our urban forest and creeks, and protect salmon habitat.

For more information about our environmental stewardship efforts, please call Leila Wilke, Manager, at (206) 733-9707 or e-mail her at


The news came on Monday, April 22: reductions to the 2003-2004 budget will be even larger than expected. The Mayor has asked City departments to make spending cuts totaling about $50 million to make up for declining revenues, higher utility costs, and added operating costs for new facilities.

For Seattle Parks and Recreation, this means a $3 to $5 million reduction to our base budget.

In anticipation of this news, I recently proposed a reorganization of Parks Department administration that collapses four divisions (Citywide and three geographic divisions, North, Central and South), into two main divisions organized by function: a Recreation and Parks Operations Division, and the Recreation Support Division. The first of these would contain all of our community centers and parks maintenance staff divided by geographic sector; the other division would house citywide recreation, aquatics, golf and environmental stewardship programs. Some of Sand Point Magnuson Park staff would be absorbed by other divisions.

The proposed reorganization would save about $500,000. But more than saving money, I believe this new leaner management structure will help us work more efficiently, while improving communication and decision-making.

That still leaves $2.5 to $4.5 million in additional cuts. In order to minimize the impact on services to the public, we will likely reduce administrative costs even more. However, a cut of this size will likely mean scaling back hours at community centers, streamlining our park maintenance, reducing the number of vehicles we use, and adding modest increases in user fees.

We welcome your suggestions that can help us operate more efficiently or at lower costs. Please feel free to contact Grace Harris, Parks Budget Manager, at (206) 684-8005 or We want to take the "easy" reductions and preserve services as much as possible.


Not all the financial news is bad. In the good news category is the recent award by the Gates Foundation of $2.8 million to the YMCA, which will work with the Parks Department and Seattle Public Schools to develop more Community Learning Centers (CLCs).

The YMCA, Seattle Parks and Recreation, and Seattle Public Schools have jointly developed these successful youth development and achievement programs. YMCA and Parks currently operate CLCs at three Seattle middle schools: Aki Kurose, Meany and Denny, with one at Mercer scheduled to open later this year.

With the Gates grant, the program will be expanded to seven total schools. CLCs offer a variety of after-school activities for middle school students to help build academic, social and personal skills, while encouraging parents and the community at large to become more involved in the lives of children.


At its April 25 meeting, the Board of Park Commissioners recommended approval of the Joint Athletic Facilities Development Program (JAFDP). The board also recommended approving the Department's policies on sports participation and field use and scheduling, and field lighting design guidelines. The Board recommended that the Department close fields with existing lights at 11 p.m. (instead of the 10 p.m. staff recommendation), and develop criteria for closing times at fields that will receive new lights. The criteria should consider the number of residents affected, the location of arterial roads, and vegetation buffers. The closing time for newly lit fields would be determined on a field-by-field basis. The Board also recommended revisiting the field use and scheduling policy in one year, after new lighted projects are on board and we have actual data on the increased capacity and scheduling.

In recommending approval of the JAFDP, the Board added Jefferson Park and removed the West Magnolia north playfield from the list of fields scheduled to receive lights and synthetic turf.

I will consult with the Mayor before finalizing the policies. I will also send the latest version of the JAFDP to the Mayor for his review. He will then make a recommendation to the City Council, which will adopt the plan by resolution.

I will be in touch soon.

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