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News and Views from the Superintendent
No. 59 March 23, 2005
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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Happy Spring! It's been awhile since I last wrote about Parks news and events. We've had a very busy and productive first few months of the year. Some of the highlights follow.


South Lake Union PlanLast week, Mayor Greg Nickels and the Seattle Parks Foundation announced a $10 million contribution from Vulcan, Inc. to help build the new South Lake Union Park. It is the largest private contribution to a public park in Seattle's history.

The contribution was a great boost to a fundraising campaign the Parks Foundation plans to launch in June to fund park improvements. Vulcan's contribution will be delivered in two parts over five years: $5 million immediately to fund the first phase of construction and $5 million as a challenge grant after the foundation has raised the remaining $10 million.

The new South Lake Union Park will accommodate large public events, improve access to the shoreline and restore portions of the natural habitat. It will feature stunning open space, a bridge and waterfront boardwalk, a boat launching beach and a model boat pond.


PlanConstruction begins this week on a project that will help transform the Northgate neighborhood with a new community center, library and park. Mayor Greg Nickels joined the community in a groundbreaking ceremony on March 19 to mark this important project milestone. The library and community center will be surrounded by a 1.7-acre park with a play area, courtyard and plaza. An adjacent project by the Seattle Department of Transportation will improve the 5th Avenue "streetscape" and make it more pedestrian friendly. We expect all projects to be completed by June 2006. For more information on the Northgate project, please visit our web site at


RIbbon cuttingSpeaking of neighborhood transformation, the Yesler Community Center, opened with great fanfare on Feb. 12, and it already is a busy place with a full slate of scheduled and drop-in activities. The difference between the old 4,700 square-foot center and the new 20,000 s.f. building is dramatic. Please come visit this wonderful new facility. A big thank you and congratulations to our primary partner on this project, the Seattle Housing Authority; SHA essentially gave us property in the Yesler Terrace neighborhood for the community center. For more information on the project, please visit


Earlier this week, Mayor Greg Nickels announced his Action Agenda for Southeast Seattle to bring more investment to the Rainier Valley for housing, jobs, education, arts and parks.

The unprecedented public investment in this neighborhood through the Sound Transit light rail line and the Seattle Housing Authority's NewHolly and Rainier Vista projects, and millions of dollars in City resources, has created a rare opportunity to help shape the future of this vibrant, diverse community. Among the projects on the Action Agenda is the development of the Chief Sealth Trail, 3.5 miles of walking and biking path, and the new Ray & Joan Kroc Community Center.

The Mayor worked with Southeast Seattle community and business leaders, community-based organizations and public and private sector organizations to develop the Action Agenda. For more information on the Agenda, please visit the Mayor's web site at


Our partnership with Audubon Washington continues as design starts for a renovated environmental learning center in Seward Park. An initial public meeting has been set for Thursday, May 12, 7 p.m. at the current environmental learning center.

The new Audubon center will provide hands-on outdoor learning for children and adults and engage volunteers in science and stewardship activities. We expect to complete design by the end of the year and start construction in June 2006, finishing by early 2007.

Audubon has begun a major fundraising campaign. For more information about the project, please contact Candy Castellanos, Audubon Washington, at 206-652-2444, ext. 101 or


Here are a few of the many recently completed projects in our parks system. I encourage you to visit them and see what's been accomplished with Pro Parks Levy and other funds.

Cascade Playground (333 Pontius Ave. N in Cascade neighborhood): Play areas, irrigation, parking, green design and crime prevention design in partnership with Vulcan, PEMCO andKubota Garden path community members.

Kubota Garden (9817 55th Ave. S in southeast Seattle): New entryway, paths, ADA access, drainage and irrigation, in partnership with Kubota Garden Foundation, which funded the new gate, designed by Gerard Tsutakawa. The Pro Parks Levy funded most of the other improvements.

Homer Harris Park (2401 E Howell St. in Central Area): Picnic area, plaza, lawn area and landscaping in partnership with a major gift from the Seattle Parks Foundation and funding from the Pro Parks Levy.

Alki Bathhouse (at Alki Beach in West Seattle): Space for artists, potters, community in partnership with the Alki Community Center Advisory Council and the Alki community, which raised substantial funds. Primary funding was from the Pro Parks Levy.

Luna Park Seawall (north of Alki Beach): Wall replacement and fish habitat improvements as part of the Mayor's Restore Our Waters strategy.

Magnolia Play Area (next to community center 2550 34th Ave. W in Magnolia): Community-inspired and community-led fundraising that included $30,000 from Amgen and $10,000 from Starbucks.

Beer Sheva Park (8650 55th Ave. S in southeast Seattle): New play area, barbecue, ADA improvements and landscaping in this Sister City park.


Some of you may have heard that our talented and hard-working group of park Crew Chiefs received new assignments in February. This is a great chance for them to get to know different areas of the city and work with new staff teams. The assignments are as follows:

  • Northwest: Joe Green
  • North Central: Don Allen
  • Northeast: Peggy Pullen
  • Central East: Jon Martin
  • Central West: Patrick Merriam
  • Downtown: Greg Bucasas
  • Southwest: Bardow Lewis
  • South Central: Carol Baker
  • Southeast: Sandi Bell


We convened the Downtown Task Force for the first time on Feb. 18. Appointed by the Mayor, the Task Force includes the Downtown Seattle Association, community members and business owners who will collectively help us develop strategies for park improvements, operation, and maintenance of downtown parks. This is part of the Mayor's Downtown Parks Initiative to revitalize downtown parks. We had a great initial discussion about key issues and needs and will meet monthly. More information and updates will soon be available on our web site.


In an exciting development announced in January, the Starbucks Coffee Company will expand its highly success parks grant program, increasing the total amount of grants to $1 million for improving parks in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. Begun in 2000, the Starbucks program has invested $310,000 in Seattle parks through $10,000 grants. The expanded program increases the individual grant amount to $15,000, Tennisand sets aside $550,000 for larger projects.


The United States Tennis Association (USTA) named the Amy Yee Tennis Center as "Organization of the Year" for 2004. The center was selected from more than 6,000 organizations nationally. The largest tennis organization in the world, the USTA promotes and develops tennis on every level in the U.S. This award is a direct result of the Tennis Center's exemplary service to the tennis community and support of USTA programs for nearly 30 years.


The Japanese Garden began its spring season in February with a celebration. A Shinto priest blessed the garden, volunteers provided tea and tours, and drummers provided entertainment.


Director of the Seattle Aquarium since July 20, 2000, Bill Arntz retired in January after contributing to the facility's "best year ever" attendance of 716,331 (in 2004). Recently, I named John Braden, former Aquarium Deputy Director, as the new director.


Earth Day is on April 22, but at Seattle Parks and Recreation the entire month of April is "Earth Month." Once again, we are involved with a host of activities, programs and volunteer "work parties." For more information on Earth Month activities visit our web site, , or call Adam Cole at 206-233-9701.

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