Seattle Parks and Recreation Strategic Plan

Since the publication of the Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) Parks Legacy Plan in September 2014, the region has transformed. Seattle's population has grown by more than 60,000 people, our transit system has expanded, our economy has grown and shifted, and our residents face challenges around affordability, livability, climate change, and more.  

Within this context of change, in 2018 SPR connected with community and partners with a holistic discussion assessing where we've been and what shifts would be needed to meet emerging and future needs. Through this strategic planning process, SPR sought community input to reflect on our challenges, our successes, who we are serving, and who we are missing. These conversations focused on thinking big about what our city might need in the next 12-13 years and how to establish a strategic direction that drives SPR's work toward meeting those needs. 

The result of this two-year planning effort is SPR's 2020-2032 Strategic Plan. 

What's In the Plan

SPR's Strategic Plan includes information on the services, programs, and spaces available to the community, guided by the three pillars of our vision of Healthy People, a Healthy Environment, and Strong Communities. It also includes information on our department-wide commitment to dismantling systemic racism and achieving racial equity through our new Pathway to Equity. Finally, the plan describes where we are going based on the feedback received from the community. Read the Strategic Plan 

In addition, the appendices list a summary of public engagement methods and outcomes supporting the development of this plan as well as all the feedback received as part of this outreach. In total, over 10,000 people provided input through this process. The themes from this input were used in the development of the 40 strategies outlined in the Strategic Plan. Read Appendix II

Strategic Plan Implementation

After release of the Strategic Plan in March 2020, SPR paused implementation efforts to pivot toward joining the region-wide emergency pandemic response. Since that time, Seattle has experienced dramatic disruption: a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, a reckoning with our racist past and present, economic downturn, and increasing impacts of climate change.  

To support the community in response to the crises of 2020, SPR is now engaging again with communities we serve about how their needs have shifted to help shape our short-term budget priorities and operations. We would like to refine our understanding of community needs and priorities, particularly for communities who are being disproportionately impacted by these crises. Provided below is a list of these engagement opportunities available to you and your fellow community members between mid-August and mid-October: 

  • An online open house and survey - including translated options 
  • SPR leadership listening sessions with community organizations  
  • Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners listening sessions with other City Boards and Commissions 
  • In-person outreach and conversations - including in-language - at popular parks and community events  
  • A mix of connections with participants in our programs, visitors to our facilities, at existing outreach events for capital projects, and more!  

See What We're Hearing So Far

We are sharing a summary of what we hear through this outreach effort every two weeks. Here's a summary of what we've heard so far, and here's all the feedback we've received to date through our online open house survey, in-person survey work, listening sessions, and emails. Sign up for our Strategic Plan newsletter to the right to stay up to date about what's on the horizon.  

Preparing for Park District Planning 

Looking ahead, SPR will gather all the feedback we receive from the community to develop an Action Plan to begin implementing our Strategic Plan for 2022-24. This Action Plan will then inform prioritization of new investments for the Seattle Park District between 2023 and 2028. These investments will be discussed, prioritized, and finalized by the Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners, Mayor, and City Council throughout 2022.

graphic with 6 circles containing text describing timeline.

Engagement
with
community
Identification
of SPR
2022-2024
Actions
Prioritization
of 2023-2028
Park District investments
Consideration of Park District investments through annual budget process
Review and approval of Park District investments
Launch of 2023-2028 Park District investments

  

More Information

Planning is ongoing at Seattle Parks and Recreation. Planning for capital projects is underway year-round, and those meetings center on design and site issues such as ADA access for projects including play areas, community centers, and athletic fields. SPR also develops long-range plans that ask questions such as how much parkland is needed for Seattle's population, what types of recreation facilities are needed, and what projects are a high priority for funding. As a result of long-range planning efforts, SPR has achieved many accomplishments in the recent past, including:  

  • Replaced Rainier Beach Community Center and Pool  
  • Increased summer activity camp program access with scholarships in central and southeast Seattle   
  • Provided over 4,000 scholarships for licensed childcare programs, recreational programming, and donations  
  • Enrolled thousands of acres of urban forest in restoration through the Green Seattle Partnership 
  • Offered programs for all ages  
  • Hosted the "Big Day of Play" community event every summer, including an all-virtual event in 2020 
  • Improved our ADA access to SPR facilities and programs  
  • Reduced the backlog of major maintenance needs by completing projects that included renovated and/or replaced park comfort stations, play areas, and converted athletic fields to synthetic turf for year-round play  
  • Increased opportunities for gardening and healthy food education by developing Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Beacon Food Forest  
  • Continued acquisition of additional parcels to expand our open space system, including additions to existing natural areas and greenbelts  

SPR has conducted numerous plans over the past several years, each of which included outreach to park and recreation users and generated recommendations, goals, and policies that informed the development of the Strategic Plan. Some of the major plans and evaluations conducted since 2014 include:  

2014: Parks Legacy Plan 
2016: Community Center Strategic Plan 
2016: Recreation Demand Study 
2017: People, Dogs & Parks Plan
2017: Parks and Open Space Plan 
2017: Soft Surface Trails Management Plan  
2017: Green Seattle Partnership Strategic Plan Update 
2018: City of Seattle Legislative Department Recreation Division Evaluation