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News and Views from the Superintendent
No. 45. January 26, 2004
Gregory J. Nickels, Mayor
Kenneth R Bounds, Superintendent
A periodic electronic newsletter about Parks and Recreation news, programs, projects and events from Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Ken Bounds
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In this issue:
Happy New Year | Discovery Park Mitigation Fund | New City Council Committee | Keep 'Em Flying So We Can Keep 'Em Playing | Let it Snow


Without question, 2004 will be as busy as ever for Seattle Parks and Recreation. Our highest priorities are to meet Mayor Nickels's goals of building strong families and healthy communities, keeping our neighborhoods safe, and creating jobs and economic opportunity for all.

Building strong families and healthy communities. Seattle Parks and Recreation is the city's leading provider of care for children and teens when they are not in school, and one of the lead agencies in implementing the Mayor's Children and Youth Strategy. In 2004, we will continue our commitment to provide a variety of recreational opportunities through our system of community centers, environmental learning centers, swimming pools, summer day camp programs, before and after-school programs, toddler rooms, play areas, ballfields and parks in every Seattle neighborhood.
  Melissa Gets her award
Mayor Nickels and B.J. Brooks congratulate Melissa Carter, the winner of a contest to design the poster for the Pro Parks-funded Learn to Swim program.

An important part of community building is caring for our parks and recreation infrastructure. The Pro Parks Levy and 1999 Community Center Levy are funding well over a hundred projects and programs valued at more than $230 million. We are making good progress on implementing these projects. We will complete 18 more Pro Parks projects in 2004 and begin work on 14 others. In 2004, we'll open four of the new or improved community centers and begin construction of the Northgate Community Center/Library project.

Keeping our neighborhoods safe. We are teaming up with other City departments to develop and implement a Safe Parks Initiative to accelerate our response to illegal behavior and other problems in parks. We are also working to improve downtown parks, including the formation of a new downtown park advisory council, a focused effort to improve Freeway Park, and the completion of several other park projects downtown.

Creating jobs and economic opportunity. We are working with the Department of Planning and Development to streamline the construction and environmental permit system, helping to expand economic opportunity. Our mentoring and training of young people help lay the foundation for their entrance in the work world. Parks and our advisory councils employ a large number of young people in part-time employment throughout the system.

HandshakeMayor's Race and Social Justice Initiative. This is an important overlay to the Mayor's main goals, and Parks is a major player in its implementation. We are committed to increasing contracting and purchasing from Women and Minority-owned business enterprises (WMBE), and to maintaining good WMBE participation in construction contracts. We also support this initiative through diverse and engaging programming at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, the Garfield Teen Life Center, and our community centers.



  View in Discovery Park

Seattle Parks and Recreation is in the fortunate position of receiving $5 million from King County as mitigation for the expansion of the West Point treatment plan adjacent to Discovery Park. The money is intended for projects at Discovery Park.

This is a result of a settlement agreement with Metro and several citizens groups in 1991, and adds money to the existing Shoreline Park Improvement Fund (SPIF). The original SPIF amount of $25 million, received by Parks in the 1990s, was spent on improving and acquiring shoreline parkland throughout the city as well as making improvements to Discovery Park.

Last year, a citizens committee convened by King County recommended a slate of projects. In July and August of last year, we conducted a public review process, including a hearing by the Board of Park Commissioners. I made recommendations to the City Council, largely agreeing with the committee. These projects focus on improving the park landscape by demolishing buildings, removing pavement, and improving the natural habitat throughout the park. All of the work is consistent with the park's master plan.

The most controversial recommendation is to demolish the chapel, located in the south end of the park. The citizens committee recommended removing the chapel; the Board of Park Commissioners recommended keeping it. The City Council will ultimately decide which projects will be funded.

For a list of projects and more information, please see


By now, many of you have heard that our new City Council committee is Parks, Neighborhoods and Education, chaired by recently elected councilmember David Della. Other members of the committee are former chair Peter Steinbrueck, and new councilmember Jean Godden. Councilmember Nick Licata is listed as an alternate. We look forward to working with Councilmember Della, his staff, and members of the PNE committee. For more information on this and other City Council committees, please visit


So read the cover of the Department's 1941 Annual Report as published by the Board of Park Commissioners. One of our staff members recently donated his tattered copy of this valuable historical document to our communications office.

It is a fascinating look into how much has changed and how much remains the same. Under a report on Seward Park, for instance, the report notes, "Considerable time and work were devoted to the eradication of noxious weeds, wild blackberry vines in particular." Of Denny Park, the report author opines, "It is to be deplored that the central district of our city does not contain more of these delightful green areas."

The year 1941 was a banner year for many park projects. Colman Pool in Lincoln Park was completed. Also finished and dedicated was Camp Long. The Works Progress Administration contributed significantly to Camp Long and a number of other projects in the Seattle park system. Of the $144,000 spent on capital improvements that year, $102,000 was from WPA. The total Department budget was $580,000 (compared to $108 million in 2003).

The start of World War II in December 1941 left its mark on city government. "The Defense Program, as applied to Seattle and its environs has taxed our park facilities to the utmost," writes Parks Maintenance Superintendent Roland Koepf. The Park Board granted use of park buildings by the 63rd Coast Artillery Corps and other defense agencies. In addition, "a number of young men employed in the Park Department requested leaves of absence, in order to serve our country."

A copy of this report will be available soon online.


  Snow in Denny Park
The view OF Denny Park, Jan. 6. 2004

The January 6 winter storm came and went like a dream--bad or good, depending on whether you had to commute to work or could stay home and play. Parks staff members responded with their usual can-do spirit. Although we had to close playing fields and cancel after-school programs, all of our facilities were open, and we held special drop-in "Snow Day Camps" for kids with working parents on both Jan. 6 and 7 when Seattle Public Schools and many private schools were closed.

I will be in touch soon.

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