VIEW FROM DENNY PARK
News and Views from the Superintendent
No. 74. June 7, 2006
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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In this issue:
Urban Parks and Recreation Summit | Building
a Transportation Foundation the Lasts | Powell Barnett
Gets "Ultimate Park Makeover" | Planning for
Skateboard Parks | Greenway Days, June 24-25 | Summer
Guide 2006 | 2005 Annual Report | George
Long, Jr.: 1948-2006
URBAN PARKS AND RECREATION SUMMIT
mid-May, the City Park Alliance (CPA) and the National Recreation and
Park Association (NRPA) co-sponsored a "summit" of park and
recreation directors from large cities and their partners, including national
organizations such as the Trust for Public Land (TPL) and local organizations
such as the Seattle Parks Foundation and the Associated Recreation Council
The summit was the culmination of an idea hatched in 2005 and developed
largely by CPA members and park and recreation directors and organized
by NRPA. We met in Virginia and Chicago in 2005 to organize the summit;
NRPA handled the logistics and CPA and the TPL's Peter Harnik developed
the program. The two main purposes of the summit were to galvanize park
and recreation advocates and agency leaders to support a national "call
to action" in support of urban parks and recreation, and to learn
from each other about best practices. For more general information about
the conference please see www.nrpa.org
. Or if you or your organization would like to join the City Park Alliance,
please go to www.cityparksalliance.org.
We sent a great delegation to Chicago. I was joined by B.J. Brooks, Deputy
Superintendent; three Park Commissioners, Chair Kate Pflaumer and members
Jack Collins and Jackie Ramels; ARC Executive Director Bill Keller and
board member Bruce Bentley; and Seattle Parks Foundation staff Kimberly
Bowen and Woody Wheeler.
I participated in a panel entitled: "Love and Let Love: How to Keep
Different Kinds of Park and Recreation Enthusiasts from Killing Each Other."
A familiar topic! I also spoke at a plenary session on "Politics,
People and Parks: Can We Make the Equation Work?" I used the 2000
Pro Parks Levy as an example of how a wide diversity of park and recreation
interests came together to form a coalition that resulted in the largest
single park and recreation voter-approved tax levy in Seattle's history.
People were very interested in what we are doing in Seattle - they were
impressed with our enormously strong volunteer support, our environmental
ethic, our recreation partnerships, and how much our leaders and public
support the parks. NRPA will be holding its annual conference in Seattle
this October, so visitors will be able to see the real thing.
But, we also learned from others. One of the conclusions I came to was
how all big cities are beginning to make the connections between what
park and recreation departments and our partners do and the following
- Economic development. There is a growing number of studies
about how well-maintained parks increase property values of nearby property,
and the importance of parks as a quality of life necessity for people
as they move back into cities.
- Health and wellness. A number of cities are partnering with
health agencies to address the issues of obesity and fitness. We have
been working with our partners on these issues as well, and it is clear
that we play a major role in solving the health crisis.
- Environmental stewardship. From Pittsburgh to L.A., large cities
are reclaiming industrial sites as parks, daylighting streams, reforesting
their green spaces and focusing attention on their own environmental
issues. No wonder Mayor Nickels' Kyoto initiative has struck such a
chord. Seattle's Green Seattle Partnership with the Cascade Land Conservancy
was of interest to many, not to mention our incredible Friends of groups
- Youth education and enrichment. Every city's parks and recreation
agency is working with youth in some fashion, mostly through programs
that support youth at school. Again, we have been doing this for years,
with support from the Families and Education Levy, the Associated Recreation
Council, and other City resources. The Community Learning Centers that
we and the YMCA operate at Seattle's middle schools are a great example.
It was refreshing to see all these other cities dealing with these same
issues. Many face severe budget cuts and other resource constraints. It
was clear that each city had to figure out its own way of addressing needs.
New York has the Central Park Conservancy and the Prospect Park Alliance,
both powerful organizations that support two major urban parks. Other
cities had similar partners. I was proud to show off our partnerships
and emphasize how we could not be successful without them.
Hopefully, a larger, national movement will come from this initial summit.
BUILDING A TRANSPORTATION FOUNDATION THAT LASTS
Seattle cannot continue building a first-rate city on a second-rate transportation
system. Mayor Greg Nickels recently unveiled a 20-year plan that will
eliminate Seattle's $500 million transportation maintenance backlog and
make investments in major transportation projects such as fixing the "Mercer
The Mayor's 2006 transportation initiative proposes to raise $65 million
in the first year through a property tax levy, a commercial parking fee,
and a business transportation tax.
The initiative, called "Bridging the Gap" will:
- Eliminate the transportation backlog
- Pave Seattle streets and repair potholes
- Make seismic upgrades to our most vulnerable bridges
- Improve pedestrian and bike safety
- Increase transit speed and reliability
While Parks has been fortunate since 1999 with two voter-approved levies,
the Seattle Department of Transportation has seen its resources dwindle
by the loss of the street utility tax and the continued erosion of gas
The transportation levy would fund several parks projects including trail
improvements near South Lake Union Park, rebuilding of the Burke-Gilman
Trail from the University of Washington north to city limits at NE 145th
St., and new sidewalks near some of our facilities.
For more information please visit www.seattle.gov/mayor/issues/streets
POWELL BARNETT GETS "ULTIMATE PARK MAKEOVER"
On May 19, Parks, contractor Leajack Construction, and hundreds of Starbucks
and community volunteers completed the "Ultimate Park Makeover"
- an unprecedented seven-day volunteer effort to make park improvements
that would normally take months to complete. Parks project manager Andy
Sheffer successfully managed the project, which had a short time period
and many moving parts!
Improvements will include a new play area, including, seat walls, benches,
picnic and gaming tables, plaza, picnic and BBQ areas, improved park entries,
and a playfield renovation.
Named in honor of community activist Powell Barnett, the 4.4-acre park
had begun to show its age. Community members, including Barnett's granddaughter,
Maisha Barnett, built public support and raised money, obtaining grants
to complete public process and design. The community's dedication attracted
the attention of Starbucks, which selected the park to receive $550,000
through the Starbucks Parks Fund, part of the $1 million commitment from
the Starbucks Neighborhood Parks Program. The group also received a $200,000
grant from the Pro Parks Levy Opportunity Fund.
Community members will continue working on park elements throughout the
summer and Parks will host a grand opening in the fall.
For more information, please visit www.seattle.gov/parks/proparks/projects/PowellBarnett.htm
CITYWIDE PLANNING FOR SKATEBOARD PARKS
With thousands of skateboarders in Seattle, and only two public skateparks,
Seattle Parks and Recreation and a City Council-appointed task force are
creating a citywide plan to help provide public facilities for this popular
You are invited to come to one of three public meetings, learn about
skateboarding in Seattle, talk about different types of skateboard facilities,
and give your ideas about possible site locations.
- Wednesday, June 14, 7-9 p.m., Rainier Community Center, 4600
38th Ave S.
- Thursday, June 15, 7-9 p.m., Southwest Community Center, 2801
SW Thistle St.
- Saturday, June 17, 1-3 p.m., Green Lake Public Library, 7364
E. Green Lake Dr. N.
In addition, on Saturday June 24, noon-3 p.m., the skateboarding community
and Parks will host an open house and skate tournament at the new Ballard
Bowl at Ballard Commons Park, NW 57th St. and 22nd Ave. NW.
Draft criteria for site selection and the different types of skateboard
facilities Seattle is considering will be posted on the web by June 10
at the web page www.seattle.gov/parks/projects/Skatepark.htm.
A second round of public meetings in September will include proposed locations
for future skateboard facilities.
GREENWAY DAYS, JUNE 24-25
Enjoy a weekend of games, tours, music, events and fun along Interstate-90
at Greenway Days on June 24 and 25, 2006.
Sponsored by Mountains to Sound Greenway Trust, the event will feature
a 100-mile multi-sport mountains-to-sound relay, .classic car show, 100-mile
mountains-to-sound scavenger hunt, and a "green treasures" trek
for the entire family.
For event locations, times and more details, please visit www.mtsgreenway.org.
SUMMER GUIDE 2006
Seattle parks, community centers, pools and other facilities are the
place to be this summer. Join us for summer day camp, concerts in the
park, swimming at lifeguarded beaches and much more. Our much-anticipated
Summer Guide 2006 is now available on our web site www.seattle.gov/parks.
2005 ANNUAL REPORT
New community centers, play areas and off-leash areas. More and improved
programs for teens and senior adults. Read about 2005 news and accomplishments
in our 2005 Annual Report, available at www.seattle.gov/parks.
GEORGE LONG, JR.: 1948-2006
Last month our beloved staff member George Long passed away. We will
all miss George for as many reasons as the people who knew him.
George worked for Seattle Parks and Recreation for 34 years, most of
them as an event scheduler. He had an amazing store of knowledge about
park policies and rules, and hundreds of parks and park buildings. George
loved the outdoors, especially camping at Salmon La Sac in the Cascade
Mountains, playing golf, Sunday driving, riding roller coasters, and meeting
friends at Seattle's Blue Moon Tavern. He was a loving father, family
member and co-worker, and we will miss him dearly.
I'll be in touch soon.