Seattle Parks & Recreation Acting Superintendent Christopher Williams joined us at Thursday’s Parks & Seattle Center Committee. As the year ended, 10% of Parks employees were laid off or had their hours reduced. Notwithstanding these budget whacks, Parks is regrouping. Here are some of the departmental accomplishments from 2010 and a look ahead at select areas of focus in 2011:
Clean It Up!
In 2010, the Clean & Green Seattle Initiative collected 17,600 pounds of litter and debris, repaired more than 200 streetlights, painted-out more than 120 graffiti sites, planted 200 trees, and cleaned up more than 35 illegal dumpsites. A total of 2,940 volunteers participated in these community-level activities.
Projects Completed & New Parks on the Way
In 2010, DPR completed twelve Parks & Green Spaces Levy projects, including the new John C. Little Playfield, play areas at Seward Park, Matthews Beach, and Beacon Hill, and the new Children’s Playgarden and Gateway to Chile. Seven more parcels were acquired over the course of the year in Capitol Hill, Taylor Creek, Lake City, Fremont, and more. The properties acquired in 2010 will become great park spaces in the years to come as neighbors come together to help design each one.
Belltown Community Center
Since the passage of the 1999 Community Centers Levy, Parks acquisition staff have studied and analyzed approximately 30 potential sites for a community center in the Belltown neighborhood. After several unsuccessful attempts to co-locate with publicly financed housing, the department is looking at leasing a former fitness center at the southwest corner of Bell Street and 5th Avenue. The department is in the process of forming the Project Advisory Team comprised of stakeholders in the area and anticipates holding the first public meeting during the second half of first quarter 2011.
Bell Street Green Connector
Westward from the corner of 5th & Bell, the plans for Bell Street Park continue to evolve. The design and permitting processes via Seattle Department of Transportation will continue over the next six months. This summer, DPR will proceed with advertising, bidding and the construction contract award processes. Construction should begin in September and continue through next winter, with an anticipate completion of spring 2012.
DPR continues to make great progress on the Statement of Legislative Intent regarding Community Centers. This multi-pronged approach includes a staff workgroup comprised of staff from Parks, City Council, and City Budget Office. A Community Center Advisory Team (CCAT) team comprised of sixteen representatives has been assembled and the department has engaged a facilitator to coordinate the work of the team. Two rounds of public meetings will gather input from the community, the first of which has been set for Wednesday, February 2, at Miller Community Center. Three geographically-based meetings will follow in April.
Youth Violence Prevention
Seattle Police Department reports that in 2010 there were no juvenile-on-juvenile homicides or gang-related juvenile homicides. Parks believes a contributing factor was the continual set of active, positive options for youth involvement across the city. Getting the collective messages out that responsible, caring adults (City employees) are creating programs with and for youth acknowledges that youth can make positive decisions about how to spend their time, they are a valued resource, and an important part of our communities. Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Youth Violence Prevention Initiative will continue to have a highly visible programming and a leadership role. They’ll continue programs that engage youth and build sustainable relationships between SPD and youth through discussions, Late Night programs, Teen Life Centers and Expanded Hours programs.
Life Long Recreation
Parks has seen great success with a new program in 2010 that serves older adults with memory loss through dementia or Alzheimer’s disease and a goal has been set for increasing volunteerism by Lifelong Recreation participants by 25% in 2011. All four Lifelong Recreation Food and Fitness programs continue at capacity (Vietnamese, Korean, Somali and Ethiopian/Eritrean), and collaboration with city-based senior centers will establish an MOA that improves communication, shares resources, and increases participation with focus on the Sound Steps Walking Programs. In addition, Life Long Recreation continues to invite seniors to extend themselves in new ways — line dancing for example!
Reduction in Fuel Use
Parks reduced their fleet’s fuel usage by 12.7% in 2010. At $3 a gallon, that’s a savings of about $112,841 over 2007 goals and $23,908 savings over the 2010 goal. It takes a good amount of work in planning, re-routing, and efficiently operating equipment to keep those numbers down, and it’s a very tangible indication of the department’s commitment to waste reduction
The Parks & Seattle Center Committee has made an effort to spend the first few minutes of each meeting with what we’ve come to call a “Parks Highlight.” These short vignettes are focused on the parks, people, and programs that make indelible impressions upon the city. Our highlight last week centered on the Polar Bear Plunge, the annual Matthews Beach freezing swim that signifies the end of one year and the start of the next. The notes above, from Christopher William’s Superintendent Report, were delivered at the very end of the committee meeting and they mark highlights that tell of warmer temperatures, at least metaphorically speaking. With efficiency, and devotion to the things that we hold most important to the character of this City, we move forward and celebrate these victories. Here’s to another great year of Park highlights in 2011.