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Seattle Parks and Recreation

The View From Denny Park
Gregory J. Nickels, Mayor
Kenneth R Bounds, Superintendent


No. 32. February 5, 2003
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

Happy New Year to one and all. This has been a busy year already and I would like to provide updates on some major issues and projects.

COLMAN PARK TREES

The shocking destruction of 108 large, mature trees in Colman Park came to a satisfying conclusion last week when Judge Jerome Farris agreed to pay the City $500,000 to settle the case. Workers hired by Judge Farris had cut down the big leaf maples and cherry trees last summer. This money will enable us not only to replant trees, but to restore the site in keeping with our goal of creating a long-lasting urban forest. The work will include the planting of 60 native trees and 600 groundcover plants, five years of maintenance and monitoring to ensure these plants are well established, and a summer youth program to remove ivy and other invasive plants and replant native plants.

Just as important as monetary restitution, I believe the hefty fine sends a strong message to would-be tree vandals that such wanton disregard for the law and policies of the city will not be tolerated.

I want to thank the many concerned citizens who wrote and called me and the City Attorney over the past few months to express your outrage and desire for a just outcome. I also want to thank City Attorney Tom Carr and his staff for vigorously pursuing this matter.

CHANGES IN GOLF MANAGEMENT

Changes are under way for the management of our three major public golf courses, but golfers should notice little or no difference other than a modest decrease in green fees.

In late January 2003, Seattle Parks and Recreation and Municipal Golf of Seattle (MGS) agreed on a new management structure for the Jackson Park, Jefferson Park and West Seattle golf courses. As part of that agreement, Seattle Parks will end the City’s management agreement with MGS, unify management under a single golf director, form a new golf advisory council, and temporarily turn over the financial reins to the Associated Recreation Council (ARC), an existing—and highly successful—non-profit corporation affiliated with Seattle Parks programs and recreation facilities.

Our ultimate goal is to get Seattle golfers to return again and again to our great public courses. I believe this approach will provide a seamless transition in operations and allows us maximum flexibility and time for considering long-term management options.

A little background: In 1995, the City contracted with the newly created Municipal Golf (MGS) of Seattle, also known as Seattle Golf, a non-profit corporation, to run Jackson, Jefferson and West Seattle golf courses with maintenance provided by City employees. A 1998 review of the management arrangement by a consultant, Economics Research Associates (ERA), listed a number of recommendations for improvement, and a 2001 follow-up report by ERA concluded the existing agreement was not working. Following extensive public review with the Park Board, we pursued a revised contract with MGS. However, upon determining that the corporation was near bankruptcy—MGS had been unable to pay maintenance bills to the city totaling$1.3 million—we decided to streamline the management structure and save significant golf dollars.

The new golf director is Andy Soden, formerly golf supervisor with Pierce County Parks and Recreation. Please contact Andy at (206) 684-7497 or andy.soden@seattle.gov if you have any questions or concerns.

OLMSTED CENTENNIAL 1903-2003

As you may know, 2003 is the 100th anniversary of the renowned Olmsted Brothers landscape architecture firm's visionary plan for Seattle's parks and boulevards. In 1903, Seattle Park Commissioners hired the Olmsteds to design a comprehensive park system and the resulting plan -- an exquisite mingling of graceful design and natural features -- became the guiding vision for park acquisition and development for the next 100 years. Seattle now has one of the most fully realized Olmsted park systems in the country.

Throughout the year, we are partnering with the Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks, the Seattle Parks Foundation and many other community organizations to celebrate the living legacy of the Olmsteds. Here are some highlights of how the Department is celebrating the Olmsted Centennial.

  • Monthly tours of Olmsted park (sponsored by the Seattle Parks Foundation)--the next one is on Sat., Feb. 15 at Hiawatha Playfield in West Seattle).

  • Northwest Flower and Garden Show (Feb. 19-23)--This year's show will feature a major display garden, the largest in the show, with an Olmsted theme (in partnership with the Arboretum Foundation), and a separate Olmsted information exhibit booth.

  • This exhibit will travel to community centers, libraries and other public spaces after the Flower and Garden Show. (See www.gardenshow.com/nw02)

  • Earth Day park restoration work parties in Olmsted parks in mid-April.

  • The annual meeting of the National Association of Olmsted Parks will be held in early May at South Lake Union Armory. The conference will feature panels on park history and development, and tours of Olmsted parks and gardens.

  • Volunteer Park: We are working on several projects to improve and beautify this Olmsted-designed park.

If you have any questions about the Centennial, please contact David Takami with my staff at (206) 684-8020 or david.takami@seattle.gov Also consult the web site www.seattle.gov/friendsofolmstedparks

WESTCREST PARK

The Westcrest Park improvement plan approved by the Park Board last June and reaffirmed by the City Council on Feb. 3 supports both off-leash users and other general park users while preserving the natural areas of the park. Funded by $516,000 from the Pro Parks Levy, the project moves and expands the off-leash area to 4.5 acres, builds a new play area and improves park trails. The project is nearly complete. For more information on the Westcrest project, please contact Karen Galt, Seattle Parks and Recreation, at (206) 684-7104 or karen.galt@seattle.gov

PROJECT UPDATES

Our Planning and Development Division staff are hard at work implementing major voter-approved levies, Major Maintenance, and Neighborhood Matching Fund projects. Among the recent highlights:

Schmitz Park Preserve: This West Seattle park has recently been restored to a more natural state with the daylighting of Schmitz Creek and the removal of a parking lot. The park is one of the few places in Seattle with stands of old-growth Douglas fir, Western hemlock and Western red cedars.

Wallingford Playfield: We have redesigned and restored the playfield including landscaping, and added a new play area, paths, and entryways. The community is building a play structure.

Lincoln Park Annex: A new addition to the Lincoln Park Annex was completed last September. The park now has a solstice-aligned plaza with a view to Puget Sound. We also added a trail with stairs to 44th Avenue SW, and cleared a dense thicket of weeds and blackberries.

Jefferson Park Pathway: This project is a 2/3-mile pedestrian/jogging path around Jefferson Park’s nine-hole golf course. The path connects the golf clubhouse, lawn bowling clubhouse, Jefferson Field, the VA Hospital, and Beacon Ave. The project is under construction and will be completed by mid-March.

Volunteer Park Entrance Garden: This project will re-establish part of the park’s Olmsted heritage by recreating the entrance plantings as they appear on historic drawings and as they were actually planted in the early 1900s. This will transform a blank lawn area with the addition of new shrub beds that will include Oregon Grape, Memorial Rose, Japanese Barberry, and Abelia. Most of these have been already planted. The project is funded by the Pro Parks Levy and the Seattle Parks Foundation.

MARTIN LUTHER KING DAY

On Martin Luther King day, Parks and the Garfield Teen Life Center Advisory Council sponsored a celebration honoring five powerful and diverse civil rights leaders who demonstrated the same passion and commitment as Martin Luther King. Two hundred teens participated in the morning program and then joined an estimated 5,000 people in the march to downtown to honor Dr. King. Many teens from our community centers throughout the city came to the Garfield campus to participate in the march.

I will be in touch soon.

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