P-Patch progress and Parks Best Practices: Committee recap



This blog features highlights from the Parks and Neighborhoods committee meeting of May 3, 2012. (See the meeting on video instead.)

We started committee last week with a discussion of Department of Neighborhood’s PACE program, which I wrote about at the time, so I won’t repeat it here. I’m looking forward to dropping in on one of the classes.

Department of Neighborhoods Director’s report

Bernie Matsuno caught us up on the latest happenings in DoN.

In preparation for the Large Projects Fund application deadline in July, the department put together a series of three workshops to help applicants be successful. The workshop approach is an innovation designed to provide as much information to as many people as possible in a time of constrained resources. DoN will evaluate the workshop approach and tweak it based on attendees’ feedback. 

More than 180 people attended, and applications will be evaluated in late summer and Council will vote on a list of final projects in December.

Also, DoN review of Small Projects Fund applications is in its final stages and groups can expect to be notified of their awards later this week – about $530,000 will be awarded, and successful applicants are expected to match up to $760,000.  The leveraged funds and neighborhood ingenuity will provide significant benefit to our communities!

DoN is developing design guidelines to be used for the Sand Point Naval Air Station Landmark District and have reviewed and approved proposals for low-income housing and tennis center in the area.

In Pioneer Square, the South Tower of the North Lot should be in for review by the Pioneer Square Preservation Board at the end of May.

Finally, neighbors, businesses, and organizations in the International District asked if they could purchase and install seven security cameras to help with public safety issues there.  The International District Review Board has approved the installation of the cameras, finding that they will have no adverse affect on the character of the district. (Keep an eye on this blog in the next few weeks for more information about how video will be maintained, archived, and whether or not it will be shared with SPD.)

Briefing on P-Patch and Community Gardens Project

A garden shed is lowered into place for UpGarden, the new P-Patch on the top of the Mercer Street Garage in Lower Queen Anne, slated to open June 2.

Laura Raymond, Project Coordinator for P-Patches and Community Gardens filled us in quickly on the Levy programs. I’m going to save the detail for a future blog entry, because Laura is going to take me on a tour of the new P-Patches, but here’s a link to her Levy Projects Update Presentation, which explains priority areas, project selection criteria, and a map of where gardens are throughout the city.

 Here are the Parks and Green Space Levy Current P-Patch Projects currently under way.

Little Saigon Park

The acquired property is highlighted in bright red. The top street is Jackson.

Moving on to the legislating portion of the meeting, we passed Council Bill 1178453, authorizing the acquisition of land for a future park on South Jackson Street in Little Saigon.

Until funding is found for creating the park, not much will change.

New Parks Board member

Next, we voted to confirm the appointment of Yazmin Mehdi to Parks Board.  I’m proud and grateful to welcome Yazmin as a new commissioner.   In addition to a stellar academic background, she helped develop the Parks Comprehensive Plan in the early 90s, has worked in the City Budget Office and various other City positions, and has a long track record of service in schools and cultural institutions. I know she’ll be an invaluable asset to our Parks System.

Parks And Recreation National Trends and Best Practices

A sampling of new funding sources identified in the presentation.

Finally, we heard a presentation by parks and recreation expert Leon Younger, (top of the page under “Current Issues,” at the link) regarding national trends and best practices for parks.  It’s to Acting Superintendent Christopher Williams’s great credit that our Parks Department is already implementing many of the approaches recommended by Mr. Younger.

DPR under Christopher has been working to improve its ability to capture and analyze data, most evidenced by the department’s ongoing work with the reorganization of the community centers, but going into practice in other programs as well.

Younger stressed having a clear understanding of the cost of every program.

Many of Younger’s ideas for new sources of revenue for Parks are being phased into practice in the Seattle Parks System. For example, Christopher is working with a consultant and stakeholder group to consider which Parks might be appropriate for restaurants, and plans to consult with neighborhoods as the department gets more information. We already permit facilities with a percentage of the gross receipts from events, although Younger felt we should be at 18 percent rather than 10 percent. We’re investigating the possibility of selling naming rights to courts, fields, stages, events, and more.  I also raised the possibility of using some of our community centers at odd hours, such as midnight to 8:00 a.m., for daycare for those families who work swing and night shifts.

Parks watchers already know that a Conservancy for Volunteer Park is under discussion, as are access fees for off-leash dog parks and other facilities.