VIEW FROM DENNY PARK
News and Views from the Superintendent
No. 55. October 8, 2004
Kenneth R. Bounds, Superintendent
A periodic electronic newsletter about Parks and Recreation news, programs,
projects and events from Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Ken
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Parks and Recreation budget details
Recently, I relayed some general information about the Mayor's proposed
budget for 2005-2006. I'd like to share more details of the budget as
it relates to Parks and Recreation.
We have faced tough economic times as a community, and we got through
the worst of it-together. However, the economic downturn forced us to
make some tough decisions. Since 2001, Seattle Parks and Recreation's
operating budget has been cut by more than $13.5 million.
In response, we looked first at our administrative functions and any
possible efficiencies. We have reorganized several times, cut positions
at all levels, "flattened" our organization, and increased staff
members' workloads. Last year, we were forced to close two swimming beaches
and cut hours at centers and pools.
For 2005, we face another reduction to our budget of about $4.6 million.
Our 2005 budget reflects more than $1.05 million in sustainable cuts
made in mid-2004, and an additional $2.05 million in reductions, plus
$1.5 million in new revenues. The effect of these actions is to reduce
Parks' dependence on the General Fund.
Our operating budget comes from the following sources: a provision in
the City Charter that places in the Park Fund 10 percent of City revenues
from fines, penalties, and licenses; the City General Fund; proceeds from
levies; and user fees and charges.
We propose an internal reorganization that will save $500,000 in 2005
by eliminating two manager positions, an office support position, and
two recreation coordinator positions. The reorganization will consolidate
two divisions and fold Magnuson Park into the remaining division. We also
will eliminate one landscape architect position and one ballfield coordinator.
We will make reductions of the General Fund support of the Late Night
Recreation program, the Environmental Learning Centers, park cleaning
and routine maintenance, the summer playground program, facility maintenance,
and vacant positions will be eliminated.
We propose modest increases in fees for the Aquarium and some aquatics
programs, and facility rental, drop-in sports, tennis center, and adult
sportsfield fees. We will institute a small fee for entry to the Volunteer
Park Conservatory, increase the fee for entry to the Japanese Garden,
institute a fee for parking at selected regional parks, and begin charging
a permit fee for beach fires.
The proposals to charge parking fees and admission to the Conservatory
have received some attention in the media and I wanted to provide some
background for our decisions.
Parking Fee: We propose to charge a small fee, probably $1 per
use with varying time limits, for parking at Green Lake/Woodland Parks,
Seward Park and Lake Washington Boulevard, McCurdy Park (current home
of the Museum of History and Industry), and Lincoln Park. There would
be a slightly higher rate for special events. Staff projections for revenues
anticipate approximately $100,000 in fee revenues for the Park Fund in
Other nearby parks systems are charging for parking to raise revenue,
the closest example being King County's Marymoor Park. The model we propose
will also provide for frequent user passes for $10 per month or $100 per
An important element of the proposal is to ensure parking is available
for park visitors. At Lincoln Park, for example, the new time-limited
parking fee will discourage ferry commuters who park for long periods
of time at the lot nearest the ferry terminal. At Green Lake it will discourage
commuter parking from the nearby Park and Ride.
Conservatory Admission Fee: We propose to charge a $5 admission
fee to the Volunteer Park Conservatory with reduced rates for elderly
and school groups. Also, annual passes for $15 for individuals and $25
for families will be available for frequent visitors. We estimate this
fee will raise $465,000 annually.
The Conservatory is one of the special treasures of our parks system
and we are committed to its continued success. Since 1994, we've invested
more than $2.4 million on seven separate projects to improve the building
exterior and interior. The Conservatory is also costly to operate-more
than $450,000 a year. We believe a fee to help offset operating costs
is appropriate and consistent with other Parks programs.
In considering this fee proposal, we also looked at practices in other
cities, including Denver, Philadelphia, San Francisco and Vancouver, B.C.,
which charge a similar admission fee for their conservatories.
Regarding the Late Night Recreation program, we will continue
to operate five Late Night sites: Garfield Teen Life Center, Golden Gardens,
Meadowbrook Teen Center, Rainier/Rainier Beach, and Southwest Teen Center.
We will operate these programs as part of our Teen Development Program,
which is funded by the Pro Parks Levy. The programming will be integrated
into our overall approach to working with teens. Several other of our
community centers also offer "late night" programs and activities
for teens on the weekend.
More details are available about the budget at www.seattle.gov/mayor/issues/budget
I will be in touch soon.