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News and Views from the Superintendent
No. 86. August 3, 2007
Gregory J. Nickels, Mayor
Betty Jean "B.J." Brooks, Interim Superintendent
A periodic electronic newsletter about Parks and Recreation news, programs, projects and events from Seattle Parks and Interim Superintendent B.J. Brooks
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In this issue...
Summer in the City: Parks Employees | Swimming in Seattle | Center City Parks programs | Summer programs at Seattle Parks | New Aquarium exhibits opens | New park openings


Working at Jefferson Park

We have a vast and unique park system. With nearly 6,200 acres of open spaces, parks and facilities, it takes a lot of work to keep this system in good shape, to make programming relevant and accessible, and to continue preserving new open spaces and creating new parks for future generations. I credit our employees with getting this work done successfully.

Our grounds maintenance crews plant and maintain the beautiful shrub beds and floral displays, keep the grass mowed, line the ballfields for play, and remove more than 2,000 tons of garbage and litter and 522 tons of yard waste each year. Our maintenance shops respond to more than 24,000 work orders annually, replacing picnic table seats for summer use, re-roofing buildings so they don't leak, and repairing boilers so we can continue to operate on hot days.

Our facilities staff keep our community centers, pools, environmental learning centers, beaches and bathhouses safe, clean and welcoming. Those responsible for programming are constantly on the lookout for fun, creative ideas - whether that means putting buskers in downtown parks, starting a concert series at Cal Anderson Park, or making drop-in kick ball available at a community center.

These are not the jobs that make the headlines, but the work of our front-line employees is vital to our success as an organization. As Seattle Parks continues to expand, our employees become even more critical to our success.

Thank you to each employee who helps make ours one of the best park and recreation systems in the country. Each of you is making a difference and touching lives.


Summer in Seattle just wouldn't be complete without spending some time in or around our lakes, swimming pools, wading pools and water play features. At Seattle Parks, we offer aquatic recreation in every corner of the City. Whether you're bringing your toddlers to the wading pool, cleaning off the boat for some waterskiing on Lake Washington, or heading to one of our lifeguarded beaches with your sunscreen and a summer novel, we have a place for you.

In Seattle, we have abundant water recreation choices:

  • 9 lifeguarded beaches
  • 2 outdoor swimming pools, including one with heated salt water
  • 8 indoor swimming pools
  • 25 wading pools
  • 5 water spray features
  • 2 small craft centers
  • 7 boat ramps
  • numerous shoreline recreation access areas through street-end parks
  • 35 parks where you can put in a canoe or a kayak
Swimming Pool

If it's open water that you crave, we recommend you always swim at beaches where a lifeguard is posted. Our lifeguarded beaches opened on June 23. A lifeguard is on duty daily from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Most beaches are open until Sept. 3, but some close on Aug. 28.

Kids of all ages love wading pools and water features. Not only are they fun, but they're also environmentally friendly. If just 50 families used the East Queen Anne wading pool, rather than filling their home wading pools, the water saved would equal that needed to fill the public wading pool - which can serve a lot more than 50 kids.

The water in our wading pools is drained every evening and re-filled with fresh water each morning, so rest assured it's clean and safe. Please note that wading pools do not open on days when the temperature does not get higher than 70 degrees. To save yourself an unnecessary trip, call our wading pool hotline at 684-7796. The information on the hotline is updated daily by 9:30 a.m.

Maybe you're more of a boater. It doesn't matter whether you enjoy skimming across the water in an 8-man rowing skull, poking around the abundant shores of the Arboretum in a one-person kayak, or zooming across Lake Washington with the wind in your hair and a boat full of friends, Seattle Parks offers you a way to access the water.

Our two small craft centers at Green Lake and Mt. Baker buzz with activity all summer long. At Green Lake, you might want to catch the Canoe and Kayak U.S. National Championships Aug. 14 - 18. If you've been to Mt. Baker Rowing and Sailing Center lately, you can't have missed the exciting renovations and expansion happening there. The primary structure is now complete, with interior work and landscaping continuing into the fall. But they're still offering a full complement of programs and classes while construction continues.

Our outdoor pools are the place to be in the summer, but many still enjoy swimming at our indoor pools. We even have swimming opportunities for Fido. On Saturday, Aug. 11, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., we'll offer a dog swim at Helene Madison Pool. We host this special event for the beloved pooch in the family right before we close the pool for cleaning and maintenance. Human swimmers need not worry. The cleaning includes draining the pool, cleaning it and re-filling it. There's also year-round access to the water at the Magnuson Park off-leash area.

To learn more about any of our aquatic programs or services, visit our website at:


Our Center City parks are humming with activities this summer - literally. We've got music and other activities scheduled virtually everywhere you turn. If you're downtown this summer, you're sure to enjoy some of the great fun we've got planned.

As part of our plan to implement the recommendations of the Center City Parks Task Force convened by Mayor Greg Nickels, we're puttin' on the ritz. Be on the look out for strolling artists, minstrels, and musicians who perform daily between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday at Freeway, Hing Hay, Pioneer Square, Westlake and Waterfront parks.


In association with our friends at the Downtown Seattle Association, we've expanded our "Out to Lunch" concert series this year. We have booked more artists at more parks than ever before. Stop by Occidental Square, Cascade Playground, Waterfront Park and Tilikum Place to see some special artists. We've also expanded our outdoor movies this year. Check out the Asian-themed film festival at Hing Hay Park in August and the Lord of the Rings film festival in September at Occidental Square.

We also have more festivals, markets and special events than ever before. To find out more, check out the website at


In Seattle, we wait all year long for our beautiful summers. With highs in the mid-70s or higher, low humidity and cool nights, it's hard to beat Seattle in the summertime. It's the time with Seattle Parks and Recreation takes our programs outside.

Whether you enjoy playing Ultimate Frisbee with your friends, taking a quiet walk through an old-growth forest or getting Fido out to a boisterous off-leash area, Seattle's parks offer something for everyone.

At five playgrounds in central and southeast Seattle, we're making a special effort to reach out to kids in these neighborhoods. We're offering playground programs at Judkins, Pratt, Othello, Brighton and Maplewood playgrounds this summer. The programs operate Monday through Friday from 11:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. throughout the summer. The focus of the programs is "Art in the Park," which provides culturally relevant, fun, innovative, curriculum based performing arts. Children work on their performances all summer, and on Aug. 18 at Pratt Park from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m., we hold an End-of-Summer Celebration that will showcase the children's performances. There will also be food and games. Don't miss the fun!

For those who enjoy organized sports, we offer sports teams, leagues and programs that focus on providing recreational opportunities, skill development and physical fitness by connecting people with each other through team participation. This summer, we have registered more than 350 youth in our tennis camp system with another 600 registered for youth lessons.

Seattle's municipal golf courses continue to be popular places to spend a sunny afternoon. Seattle golfers have already played more than 127,000 rounds of golf this year. We offer camps for kids all summer long. These three- and four-day camps are available at Jefferson and Jackson golf courses.

For the avid golfer, we can recommend the Seniors for Juniors Golf Tournament, which be held on Friday, Aug. 10, at 1 p.m. at the West Seattle Golf Course. Seattle broadcasting legend Bruce King will host the event, which is co-presented by Fir State Junior Golf Foundation and Seattle Parks and Recreation. For more information, visit the website:

No kid's summer would be complete without spending some time at summer camp. At Seattle Parks, we have more than 1,000 children participating in our summer camps. About 42 percent of them receive scholarships. We are also serving another 327 middle school students in a variety of recreation and academic summer programs at the Community Learning Centers we operate with funding from the Families and Education Levy.

These are only a few of our offerings and programs. We have summer sports camps, classes at our 26 community centers, drop-in activities, lifelong recreation for seniors - including the biggest Northwest Senior Games ever - environmental and stewardship learning opportunities and programs, and much, much more.


When the Seattle Aquarium held its grand re-opening after a 24-month renovation, the new Windows on Washington Waters exhibit drew throngs of people. The exhibit has a 120,000-gallon exhibit with a 39-foot-by-17-foot viewing window, and is the centerpiece of the $41 million expansion and renovation. The new exhibit, which features the habitat of our Pacific Northwest waters, is modeled after the landscape and creatures of Neah Bay on the coast of Washington.


The Aquarium has stocked the tank with hundreds of local fish -- including coho salmon, several species of rockfish, Red Irish Lords, sea stars, sea cucumbers, anemones and many other underwater creatures. Seawater is piped straight in from Puget Sound at the rate of 1,600 gallons a minute, keeping the tank at about 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Hordes of Washingtonians and visitors are discovering this wonderful new amenity to the City. The Aquarium set attendance records on the week after its re-opening, with more than 28,000 people visiting. If you haven't had a chance to check out the new and improved Seattle Aquarium, I encourage you to do so.


The Pro Parks Levy continues to bring us brand new parks and renovate some of our existing ones. This spring, we've opened three completely new parks in Magnolia, Northgate and Pinehurst, and renovated four existing parks in New Holly and Delridge. If you haven't had a chance to get out and see some of these beautiful new and updated additions to our system, I encourage you to make some time for it.

Ella Bailey

Ella Bailey Park, 2601 W Smith St. -- Transformed from a former blacktop, Ella Bailey Park is now one of the jewels of our system, and I suspect it will become a popular wedding site. With spectacular views of the downtown skyline, Ella Bailey has suddenly become the hot spot for viewing the Fourth of July fireworks. The Pro Parks Levy allocated $1.4 million to convert the space into a vibrant community gathering place. The former 2.4 acres of asphalt have sprouted into gently rolling slopes covered in grass creating a natural amphitheater, a children's play area, two basketball courts, swings, barbeques, picnic tables, seat walls design to encourage skateboarding, and a playfield large enough to encourage youth soccer.

Maple Leaf Community Garden, 529 NE 103rd St. -- With enthusiastic support from the community, we recently opened our newest park in Northgate. This great new open space is the result of many years of work by the community. The Maple Leaf Community Council held fundraisers, applied for grants, and lobbied the City to acquire and develop the property. In 2003, we purchased the land, and this spring we held a grand opening for the park. Today, it has 22 P-Patches, a community gathering plaza, pathways that are accessible for people with disabilities, a circular bench, and a beautifully designed garden storage building.

Pinehurst Pocket Park, 11700 19th Ave. NE -- Another community initiated project, Pinehurst Pocket Park creates a quiet, easily accessible, pedestrian-oriented park in the heart of the Pinehurst neighborhood. Acquired with Pro Parks Levy funds in 2004, the park emphasizes art. Artist Sara Johani created a children's play oval with patterns inlaid into the ground for games, such as the Nigerian hopscotch game of Ta Gali Gali. The second component is a "replica" of the historic Pinehurst steam tractor that was famous among neighborhood children who enjoyed taking rides on it around the neighborhood.

John C. Little Sr. Park, 6961 37th Ave. S -- Named to honor the late long-time Park Board member and leader in the African-American community, John C. Little Sr. Park is located in the heart of the New Holly neighborhood. This 5.8-acre park was once called 37th Avenue Park and did not have many amenities. Thanks to the Pro Parks Levy, $515,000 became available to update the space. Now it has a water spray feature for children's play, two picnic shelters, and a comprehensive system of connecting paths. A community P-patch will likely be developed at the north end of the project site within the next couple of years.

Delridge Parks: Greg Davis, Cottage Grove and Puget Boulevard Commons, between Delridge Way SW and 26th Avenue SW, north of SW Brandon St. - This group of parks received $1.6 million from the Pro Parks Levy to completely update three parks. The project created one contiguous open space/park that includes passive and active recreational elements, including an unscheduled sports field, playgrounds, plazas, picnic shelters, tables, benches, renovation of the P-patch, a grass court for lawn bowling and croquet type activities, tables, benches, and wooded areas with native vegetation. A special grant from the King County Chemical Dependency Board helped pay for a beautifully designed Meditation Garden at Cottage Grove Park, complete with a walking labyrinth.

I'll be in touch soon.

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