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
COMMITMENT TO THE ENVIRONMENT
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
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
BUDGET SHORTFALL LARGER THAN EXPECTED
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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
We want to take the "easy" reductions and preserve services
as much as possible.
GATES GRANT FOR COMMUNITY LEARNING CENTERS
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.
PARK BOARD RECOMMENDS KEEPING EXISTING FIELD LIGHTS ON TIL 11
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
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.