In this issue: Park Board | International Children’s Playground | Jefferson Park | Magnuson Park Update | Magnuson Park Wetlands Phase III | Audubon to operate Carkeek ELC | YMCA operates the Cascade People’s Center | Fresh paint for Gas Works | Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative | Parks manager honored at UW Black Student Union Founders Day | LGBTQ story | Staff Changes | Summit Slope Park | Record aquatics participation in 2011 | Superheroes Needed | Barred owl at Camp Long | Parks Arts Partners | Belltown Community Center | Homeless Youth Parks Engagement (HYPE) Program | Parks recognized by the American Heart Association | Youth Green Corps at Seward Park
Changes are afoot at the Park Board!
Following City Council review and approval of legislation, the Board of Park Commissioners now comprises nine members instead of seven, four appointed by the Mayor, four appointed by the City Council, and the ninth from the YMCA’s Get Engaged Program to get young adults involved in civic discussions. Beginning in July, the Board will meet once a month, on the second Thursday.
The new configuration and expiring terms have created several vacancies. The City Council has appointed Megan Heahlke, an Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Seattle, and Barbara Wright, a healthy community advocate working on transportation and community livability issues. Mayor McGinn appointed Brice Maryman, a landscape architect with the SvRDesign Company with a special interest in historic preservation and green building design, and Yazmin Mehdi, who has held several planning positions with the City, doing policy and budget analysis and work on Parks’ Comprehensive Plan in the early 1990s. We welcome this new energy to the Board!
International Children’s Playground reopens
International Children’s Park has just reopened with a gala celebration featuring the International School of Martial Arts lion dancers and the Morning Star Korean Cultural Center youth performance group.
Landscape architect Karen Kiest and Parks project manager Pam Kliment worked with the community to re-envision the park and create a beautiful functional design. Under the project management of Kim Baldwin, artist Stuart Nakamura designed three new pieces of art for the park and the bronze dragon sculpture created by artist Gerard Tsutakawa was refurbished. This community initiated project received design funding from the Neighborhood Matching Fund and construction funding from the Parks and Green Spaces Levy, Historic South Downtown, a King County Youth Sports Facility Grant, a grant from the D.V.and Ida J. McEachern Charitable Trust, and various donations from generous community members. Major sponsors were Cathay Bank, T. Yorozu Gardening Co., Inc, and Domingo Viernes Apartments.
Construction Fencing is coming down at Jefferson Park!
Mark your calendar for the grand re-opening of Jefferson Park on July 14! This project, managed by Andy Sheffer, has been funded by both the 2000 Pro Parks Levy and the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy. It is a multi-million dollar project for which planning began in 2001, when the City decided to cover the reservoir. The project includes park improvements in a 43–acre area of Jefferson Park, including the community-initiated Beacon Mountain, a new skatepark, the Great Meadow, the Overlook, a viewpoint plaza with seating, a natural theater for small performances, rain gardens by Elizabeth Connor, restrooms, a sports meadow, community gardens, a new play area, renovated tennis courts, renovated Jefferson Playfield, and picnic shelters equipped with solar panels thatnks to City Light's Community Solar program.
Magnuson Park update
On February 11, Parks and Recreation held a workshop to talk about a strategic plan for Magnuson Park’s future. The group celebrated the park’s successes to date and talked about how to move forward with the remaining $70 million in capital needs, and voiced opinions about which improvements Parks should make next when funding becomes available. The Strategic Planning Work Group, made up of community members and a small group of City staff, has met three times and has established eight key values and divided the "wish list" into four categories: Buildings, Land, Infrastructure and Programs/Amenities. Next steps in the process are to develop a draft of the first phase of the plan, review of the draft by the Executive, and City Council review this summer. To check on the progress of the first phase of the plan, please see www.seattle.gov/parks/magnuson/.
Magnuson Park Wetlands Phase III.
This project, the Shore Ponds, is substantially complete and Parks will hold a dedication on Saturday, May 12—please join us! The project finished four months ahead of schedule due to vigorous and diligent work by the contractor, Ohno Construction and project manager Andy Sheffer.
Seattle Audubon will operate the Carkeek ELC
Because of budget reductions, Parks unfortunately had to close the Carkeek Park Environmental Learning Center in 2011, leaving it open only for rentals. But we’re all about making lemons into lemonade, so in October of 2011 we issued a Request for Proposals for management and operation of the building with an emphasis on environmental programming and education. The RFP also invited proposals for programming in the park. We received two proposals and chose Seattle Audubon as the more responsive of the two. We are now in negotiations with Seattle Audubon on a long-term management, operations and maintenance agreement; we expect to have legislation before the City Council for its consideration during the third quarter, and Audubon hopes to begin operations by the end of the year.
YMCA operates the Cascade People’s Center
Following a competitive Request for Proposals process, the YMCA of Greater Seattle is the new operator of the Cascade People’s Center at Cascade Playground in the South Lake Union neighborhood. Among the offerings are First Friday Family Fun Nights, hip hop classes, service days, yoga, bike repair, potlucks with the adjacent P-Patch, and lots more. For more information, please go to www.ycascadepeoplescenter.org.
Fresh paint for the Gas Works Park Play Barn structures
Kudos to the Parks Paint Crew for a great job renewing the old gas plant structures in the Gas Works Park Play Barn.
Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative issues its first progress report
The report is out, and the news is good. The work started with an inter-agency team who reach out to the community and focus on the three Seattle neighborhoods most subject to youth violence. They started by identifying the youth between the ages of 12 and 17 who live in Central, Southeast or Southwest Seattle and have been convicted of violent offenses, arrested but not detained, are at risk of perpetual truancy, or are victims of violence. They work with schools and law enforcement agencies to identify youth in these categories, and outreach workers identify others. The outreach and case management team includes Therapeutic Health Services, Southwest Youth and Family Services, Smilow Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club, Atlantic Street Center, Sea Mar Community Health Centers, Consejo, Powerful Voices, and SafeFutures.
The initiative includes a team of more than 50 public and nonprofit professionals who connect and coordinate services through “neighborhood networks” that assess each youth’s needs, help them set goals, and connect them to the help and services they need. 4C Coalition and Big Brothers Big Sisters provide mentoring, and other agencies work on aggression replacement through art, employment, mental health, education, and substance abuse rehabilitation. The bottom line: Youth arrests for violent crimes dropped from 362 in 2008 to 290 in 2010, and the number of youth referred to juvenile court for violent offenses dropped from 398 in 2008 to 329 in 2010.
Parks manager honored at UW Black Student Union Founders Day
Parks’ own Royal Alley-Barnes, who manages Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center and Parks’ role in the Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, was honored in January at the UW Black Student Union’s second annual “Standing on the Shoulders of Giants” event. Royal has been dedicated to race and social justice (RSJ) issues in Seattle for 40 years. Let us tell it from the perspective of someone who used to report to Royal.
Peggy Pullen, Northeast Crew Chief, has this to say: “Working for Barnes was the first time I directly experienced passionate leadership in the RSJ area from management. She understood the concept of privilege and identified its repercussions in hiring, discipline, training, customer response, team dynamics, and institutional policies. Barnes educated people around her, up and down the ladder. Her strength is her ability to address issues, big or small, in an institutional setting. She inspired me to keep my ideals of fairness, serving others, and environmental stewardship in the face of customers with privilege and powerful political contacts.
"Barnes embodies the truism, the personal is political. I can’t think of a better leader to work with young people in Seattle as an organizer, mentor, and advocate for youth who are gay, differently abled, gender questioning, black, brown, and come from many religious backgrounds, any youth underserved by parents, family, school, city and nation. She has a power to see their strengths and to inspire the chasing of dreams.”
In response to the tragic increase nathionwide in youth suicides over the past year and media attention to the need for increased options for LGBTQ youth, Parks staff, with the leadership of Randy Wiger, have been doing outreach to an underserved population – youth who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning their sexuality. We have begun a program called Born This Way Kafé, which takes place every Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. the Shelterhouse at Cal Anderson Park. It’s a safe place for these youth to gather, talk, have fun and be themselves. It’s a partnership with the Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs. Between July and October 2011 more than 100 youth had participated.
Change is in the air! Staff changes: Michael Shiosaki, Kevin Stoops, Cheryl Fraser, David Broustis, new Senior Recreation Coordinators
The retirement of Carol Everson, Parks’ crack Finance and Administrative Services Director, brought about a series of management changes at Parks. Kevin Stoops, former Parks Planning and Development Director, is the new Finance Director. Michael Shiosaki, former Deputy Planning and Development Director, is the new Planning and Development Director. The departure of Robb Courtney led to the appointment of Dan Johnson as acting Parks Division Director, which led to David Broustis as the Acting Facilities Maintenance Manager, which led to Brock Milliern as the Acting Environment and Sustainability Unit Manager, which led to Lisa Harrison as the Security Supervisor.
Changes in community center operations have also prompted some changes: Cheryl Fraser, former Natural Resources Unit Manager, is now the Deputy Director of the Recreation Division. Barb DeCaro is now the Acting Natural Resources Manager. Katie Grey is the North District Park Resources Manager. And two people were promoted to Sr. Recreation Coordinator to play leadership roles in the newly formed geographic teams: Brian Judd in Southeast and Ronald Davis in Southwest. They join Sr. Recreation Coordinators Trevor Gregg in Central, Dave Gilbertson in Northeast, and Barb Wade in Northwest. Congratulations to all!
Summit Slope Park is a winner!
The new Summit Slope Park on Capitol Hill has received an award from the Seattle Design Commission. The awards celebrate design excellence in the public realm, and found that this park meets two criteria: to promote design practices that serve as a catalyst for innovative sustainable development, equal opportunity and social inclusion; and to ensure that the city’s built environment makes Seattle a world-class example of sustainable urban design that strengthens community, public life and economic prosperity.
Summit Slope Park is located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood at the intersection of E John Street and Summit Ave E. The project reclaims the edge of the urban block, creating an inviting infill park that responds to the complex scale, texture and flow of the surrounding neighborhood. This difficult location and small site is enhanced by a simple yet elegant design concept. Un-manicured community gardens, formal lawn spaces, gathering places, a skatepark element, and seating elements are artfully integrated in the small park, to create a place that fosters a sense of community, while engaging the public in thoughtful and meaningful ways. The space provides a “backyard” feel while opening up to the larger community. Neighborhood pride in the park is evident in the use and stewardship of the community. The park is a clear example of how simple design and detailing can enhance our experience in the city and create a well used and loved space for the community.
Thanks go to Kelly Davidson, Parks project manager, Josh Mahar from the P-Patch program at the Department of Neighborhoods, Deb Guenther of Mithun, and Jen Power and Saunatina Sanchiz of Unpaving Paradise.
Record aquatics participation in 2011
Parks pools welcomed more than 1.5 million people in 2011!!! Pool attendance records show that 1,125,156 people visited our nine pools over the past year. And these folks are busy - that number includes an impressive 273,143 swim lessons! Beaches recorded attendance of more than 200,000, wading pools 90,000; and small craft centers 93,500.
The 10th annual Polar Bear Plunge at Matthews Beach on New Year’s Day at noon was the biggest ever, with at least 3,500 people there to celebrate the New Year. Staff went to the Space Needle on New Year’s Eve to help KING-5 promote the event. Four came in costume, and Tim Ewings even agreed to have a bucket of cold water dumped on his head to demonstrate for TV viewers what the swim experience might be like. The team from Meadowbrook Pool, led by Janet Wilson, brought their usual creativity to the event with badges of courage, polar bear vitamins (marshmallows), decorations, signage, costumes, hot beverages and more.
Lifeguards, the SPD Harbor Patrol, and a Fire Department fireboat were all on duty to protect the public. The news media interviews focused on Seattle Parks and Recreation as the host for this crazy, popular event.
You, too can be a Superhero!
At Parks we’re always working hard to make sure we have enough money for scholarships for swim lessons for low-income kids. We’re now accepting donations large and small for the Learn to Swim Scholarship Fund. Between 2005 and 2009, 129 King County residents drowned; of them, 18 were children 17 and younger. Seattle Parks and Recreation, Children’s Hospital, and Public Health – Seattle & King County believe swimming lessons are a large part of the solution. Once you learn to swim, you’re protected for a lifetime.
Special thanks go to Seattle Children’s for partnering with us to kick off the program and contributing supplemental funds to the Learn to Swim Scholarship Fund. It’s easy to contribute – just visit your local swimming pool to use cash, check, or VISA/MasterCard/American Express, or donate online at the Associated Recreation Council’s website at http://www.arcseattle.org/donate.cfm. As a guideline, a donation of $260 would provide scholarship funding for 10 children.
Barred owl visits Camp Long Lodge, briefly volunteers to entertain
One day in early February, a barred owl found its way down the chimney at the Camp Long Lodge, apparently looking either for dinner or a volunteer opportunity. The owl sat placidly on a rafter while fast-responding Parks staff emptied the room and opened windows. The owl found its way back out into the park and all was well that ended well.
Parks arts partners get funding
Mayor McGinn has announced more than $1.6 million in investments to Seattle-based arts, heritage and cultural organizations through the Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs' Civic Partners program. The program will provide funding to 137 organizations in 2012. The Civic Partners program awards funding to a full spectrum of Seattle arts, heritage and cultural groups - ranging from established organizations to small and emerging groups - with a minimum three-year history of serving Seattle residents and visitors. Several recipients are Parks partners:
MOHAI - $10,890
Spectrum Dance $9,900
Seattle Public Theater, $4,400
Pratt Fine Arts, $22,500
Seward Park Art Studio, $4,040
For the full list, please see http://www.seattle.gov/arts/funding/org_partners.asp.
Belltown Community Center is a go!
It’s with a great sense of relief that I report to you that in year 13 we are opening the Belltown Community Center! Funded in the 1999 Community Centers and Seattle Center Levy, the center will open in June. We have faced siting challenges before, but this one takes the cake. From partnership proposals that fell apart to out-of-sight property prices during the real estate boom, it was a very difficult process. Now we have a 6,000 square foot building at 5th and Bell that will accommodate programs and classes for adults such as yoga, Pilates and martial arts, space for community meetings, and space for evening dances and other events. It includes an office that will available to Seattle Police 24 hours a day. Watch for word of the June opening!
Park Rangers' Homeless Youth Parks Engagement (HYPE) Program
See what good works the Park Rangers have been up to! Here is their report on the activities of their new-in-2011 Homeless Youth Parks Engagement (HYPE) program, which in partnership with the Orion Center brings resources and gives hope to homeless youth in Seattle. Please click here: HYPE Report to see the 2011 annual report.
Parks recognized by the American Heart Association
Seattle Parks and Recreation has been recognized for helping employees eat better and move more. Physical activity and employee wellness are important priorities at Seattle Parks and Recreation, and we are honored and excited to be recognized by the American Heart Association as a Platinum-Level Fit-Friendly Company. This recognizes our efforts to set a good example for the public we serve, and is a neat fit with our Healthy Parks, Healthy You Initiative, our effort to promote physical activity and wellness in Seattle. Join us on August 25 at Magnuson Park for the Big Day of Play.
Mayor McGinn and Chukundi Salisbury at a Youth Green Corps work site at Seward Park
The Youth Green Corps (YGC) is a partnership between Seattle Parks and Recreation and Seattle Goodwill that educates and trains young adults through a mix of classroom experiences and outdoor hands-on forestry restoration. It is a 9-month program that consists of 11 Corps members who split time between Goodwill, forest restoration and trail work in Seattle parks for educational and career training. Participants are ages 18-24 and receive a $1,200 per month stipend.
Thanks for your continuing interest in and love of our parks. We’re unfortunately facing more budget cuts for 2013-2014, and we’re committed to make them in ways that make sure they continue to be accessible, safe and clean, that they offer plenty of recreation options and opportunities, and that our system is both financially and environmentally sustainable.
I’ll write more soon.
April 4, 2012