Weeklong closure ahead for Southwest Pool, starting Tuesday

August 22, 2014 at 9:04 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | No Comments

As you make your end-of-summer plans, here’s one more note about city aquatics facilities – Southwest Pool (2801 SW Thistle) is closing for a week, from next Tuesday (August 26th) through Labor Day (Monday, Sept. 1st). It’s a maintenance shutdown, but it is concurrent with the final full week of operation for Colman Pool on the shore at Lincoln Park, so you’ll have that as a city-run alternative while SW Pool is out of service. (As of Sept. 2nd, when Southwest Pool reopens, Colman will be closed except for one “post-season weekend” Sept. 6-7.)

Mayor launches search for Seattle Parks & Recreation superintendent

August 20, 2014 at 12:37 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 3 Comments

Since taking office at the start of the year, Mayor Ed Murray has hired department heads including a new Police Chief and new Transportation Director, and now he’s launching a search for another one – a new Parks Superintendent. Just in:

Mayor Ed Murray today thanked Christopher Williams, Acting Superintendent of Parks and Recreation for the past four years, who is stepping down to the role of Deputy Superintendent. Williams is returning to his previous role with the department as he manages some personal health issues.

“I want to thank Christopher for his dedication and service to Seattle Parks and Recreation and the people of Seattle over the last four years as Acting Superintendent, and for many years before that in other capacities with the department,” added Murray. “Under his leadership, the department has successfully weathered significant budget reductions as the result of the Great Recession, including both service and staffing cuts. Seattle’s park system will benefit from Christopher’s work for years to come.”

The Mayor will conduct a national search to find a new leader for the Parks and Recreation Department. The search is underway and will be completed by January of 2015.

Williams lived in West Seattle while growing up and is a Chief Sealth International High School graduate. (Photo: WSB file, from 2011)

Election 2014: Despite (or because of?) park proliferation, Seattle Proposition 1 on losing side here

August 11, 2014 at 2:58 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks, West Seattle police | 35 Comments

checkbox.jpgAt week’s end, King County Elections published the legislative-district-by-legislative-district breakdown of the first night’s results in the August 5th election. Though the citywide total has been in favor of Seattle Proposition 1 – creating a Park District with taxing authority for extra parks funding that has previously come via levy – parkland-rich West Seattle is in the “no” column. West Seattle has the bulk of in-city voters in the 34th Legislative District (map), and the district’s opening-night vote was 42 percent “approve,” 58 percent “reject.” That was the lowest “approve” percentage of any legislative district with some Seattle voters; next lowest was the 32nd District (map) in northwesternmost Seattle, at 43 percent “approve.” The strongest support, meantime, was 63 percent “approve” in the 43rd District (map), which includes downtown, Capitol Hill, and Green Lake.

If you’re interested in other King County races’ election-night district-by-district breakout, it’s all in this PDF. No precinct-by-precinct breakout yet; the final vote won’t be certified until next week. (And again, what’s reported above is from a breakdown of the first count, made public election night, and does not include ballots counted and reported since then. The “approve/reject” gap has widened a little citywide since that first round; as of Friday afternoon, “approve” was ahead with 53.2 percent, while on Election Night, it was at 52.4 percent.

Election 2014: 2nd vote count widens lead for Park District measure

August 6, 2014 at 4:44 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks, West Seattle politics | 34 Comments

Quick note in case you’re wondering: The second ballot-count update is out for the August 5th election, and the proposal to create a Seattle Park District has widened its lead a bit. Last night, the yes vote was 52.4 percent; today, it’s 52.7 percent. Next ballot-count update will be out by this time tomorrow.

Pocket park planned in Gatewood neighborhood, thanks to a donation dating back long before the donor’s death

August 4, 2014 at 7:35 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 19 Comments

That Gatewood home is scheduled for demolition – but not to be replaced by new development. You might call it “un-development.”

For the past few months, a small sign in front of it has been the only clue it’s set to become a pocket park, aside from this webpage. Seattle Parks owns it because its owner made a “reserved life estate donation” for that purpose. The sign has long promised an upcoming public meeting for neighbors, and now the date is set – 10 am Saturday, August 16th, at the site known as the Watton property after the donating family, 3823 SW Willow. It’s scheduled for demolition a month later, in mid-September; George Watton, who died last January at age 94, bequeathed the money for that, too. He and wife DeLayne Watton (who died in 2007) had lived there since building the house after he returned from World War II in the late ’40s. After demolition, the city will work on site restoration and turf establishment, and promises it “will work with the contractor to minimize the impact to the neighborhood.”

Long before today’s announcement, we had done some research after getting a tip about the site. Donald Harris with Seattle Parks told us that George Watton had said, dating back to 1992, that he was interested in donating his property to the city after he died. The city won’t accept “just any property,” but this one appealed, Harris explained, because “you can see how it could be this great little overlook for the neighborhood.” Mr. Watton’s health went downhill after he took a fall late last year; he had to leave his beloved home and move in with family in southwestern Washington. According to Harris, they said they wanted to start the process of transferring the site, and there was some hope it might be transformed into a park before he died, but that didn’t work out. Mr. Watton did stay engaged with the planning process for a long time, Parks says. His monetary donation to cover demolition and some park development totaled about $60,000, and because of the special type of account it went into, it grew over time. The demolition won’t be simple, but eventually, Harris said, people will be able to go up onto the site and sit and enjoy it.

Why the street trees by Fairmount Playfield are being cut down

August 1, 2014 at 4:42 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 21 Comments

The trees in the planting strip along Fauntleroy Way by Fairmount Playfield have caused some trouble in recent years – we can think of at least two cases of branches falling on the sidewalk/cars, like this one last September.

Still, some were concerned to see that all but a few have been removed this week. It’s partly related to the impending reopening of Fairmount Park Elementary, according to the response we received from Seattle Parks, and partly in advance of an impending sidewalk project:

The trees were removed for hazard. The species and growth of the tree (have) made them unreliable. They were pruned to mitigate hazards and slated for removal as part of the sidewalk replacement program in 2015 in cooperation with SDOT. We are removing the current trees to assure that the new grade-school-bus loading zone is safe this year. A plan is in development to replace similar-size trees in a manner that will not disrupt the new sidewalk.

Two trees had been taken down previously. Parks also recently put in a path along the south side of the park, leading from the sidewalk to the school.

Followup: Alki, Seacrest showers to be turned back on following pollution-concern-related shutdown

July 30, 2014 at 2:18 pm | In Environment, West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 25 Comments

Just in from Seattle Parks, following our Tuesday report:

Seattle Parks and Recreation will turn on the showers back on at Alki Beach Bathhouse today, and have the showers at Seacrest Park open by Thursday, July 31.

The water had been turned off temporarily after Seattle Parks received notice from Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) that the two showers were draining directly into the Puget Sound, which is not allowed under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NDPES) or Seattle City Code.

Parks and SPU have jointly developed a temporary solution to the problem while a more permanent one is created. Seattle Parks and Recreation will install a charcoal or vitamin C treatment system to address the chlorine in the water, and post signs that say “no soap, no chemicals, no dumping.”

Parks will work with SPU to develop a method and schedule for the long-term fix, which will likely include connecting the showers to the nearby sanitary line.

Parks and SPU are still working on a solution for how to bring the fish cleaning sink into compliance.

Thanks again to Paul for the tip on the shutoff – he e-mailed us over the weekend, we inquired Monday, and published the first report after Parks replied Tuesday morning, updating the story late yesterday following a conversation with SPU. We welcome news tips 24/7 – if breaking, text or voice to 206-293-6302; otherwise, editor@westseattleblog.com – thanks!

Pianos in the Parks: West Seattle, White Center parks included

July 17, 2014 at 7:12 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks, WS culture/arts | 12 Comments

(The Alki piano – photo courtesy Pianos in the Parks)
If you weren’t already planning to spend part of your summer at city/county parks – a public/private-partnership plan announced today is meant to give you a reason to visit. It’s called Pianos in the Parks, and it’s placed 20 donated and decorated pianos in 20 Seattle and King County parks, for one month, starting today. The parks, listed here, include Alki Beach Park in West Seattle and Steve Cox Memorial Park in White Center. Since those are both fairly sizable parks, we asked a Pianos in the Parks spokesperson where to find the pianos. Reply: “The Alki piano is located just across from Spud Fish & Chips at the edge of the grassy area and the Steve Cox piano is roughly in the middle of the park by the picnic huts and the playground.” (Above, that’s the Alki piano, decorated by artist Kerstin M. Graudins, before it was to be placed at the beach, where we’re hoping to get a photo of it this evening.) And yes, the pianos are playable – that’s even at the heart of a contest. What happens to them after August 17th? They’re being auctioned off; you can bid on any or all of them online by clicking any individual park photo here to see its piano.

Create a Seattle Park District? Days before ballots arrive, yes/no sides make their cases to Admiral Neighborhood Association

July 10, 2014 at 5:48 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks, West Seattle politics | 13 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

When the August 5th ballot arrives in your mailbox next week, it will include one major issue for you to decide: How will the City of Seattle raise extra money for its park system from here on out?

In recent years, the city has done that by taking a levy/bond measure to the public every so often. The most recent one was the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy, which expires this year.

But what the city’s asking you to approve this time has no expiration date. If you approve Seattle Proposition 1, you’ll be voting to support creation of a permanent Park District with taxing authority – no further votes needed.

The Admiral Neighborhood Association spent most of its July meeting on a mini-forum about Proposition 1 – with some pointed questions, and responses.

Click to read the rest of Create a Seattle Park District? Days before ballots arrive, yes/no sides make their cases to Admiral Neighborhood Association…

Followup: Repairs complete, so Colman Pool reopens Tuesday

July 7, 2014 at 4:53 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 2 Comments

(WSB file photo)
After a three-day shutdown because of mechanical trouble, Colman Pool on the shore at Lincoln Park WILL reopen tomorrow, Seattle Parks spokesperson Joelle Hammerstad just confirmed. We asked earlier for details about the breakdown, and along with apologies from Seattle Parks for the closure and inconvenience, she explained:

One of two pumps for the main circulation system failed. This was a 40hp motor attached to a pump; the coupler sheared off of the motor that was attached to the pump. There would have been a loud explosion noise, but was not heard by the caretaker because of the 4th of July noise.

The broken pump allowed water to drain out of the pool into the sanitary sewer. No water went into Puget Sound. An estimated 200,000 gallons drained out until detected about 4 a.m. on July 5. The pool capacity is 450,000 gallons.

The pool was refilled overnight on July 5 and 6 during the highest tide. The pump has been repaired and is being laser-aligned this afternoon.

The clarity of the water is poor and needs at least 6 hours of circulation to meet Health Code requirements. The temperature of the pool is cold, currently 70 degrees. The water when it comes in from Puget Sound is around 60 degrees. The ideal temperature for the pool is about 82 degrees. We expect the pool will be close to 80 degrees for swim lessons on Tuesday.

Regular pool pricing will be in place when we reopen. Those with 30-day swim passes can be extended by three additional days if request is received at the pool by July 9.

P.S. Remember that the pool will be closed to the public this Friday and Saturday for a swim meet, so you have three days to swim there before that.

Colman Pool update: West Seattle’s outdoor pool closed again Monday

July 6, 2014 at 6:22 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 4 Comments

We have an update this evening on Colman Pool, the only city-run outdoor pool in West Seattle, closed all weekend because of a circulation-pump breakdown: The parts needed for repairs are expected to arrive tomorrow (Monday) and Seattle Parks hopes to reopen the pool on Tuesday – with the water likely to be colder than usual, since they can’t refill the pool until the pump’s fixed, and can’t heat the water until it’s in the pool. The pump failure, discovered Saturday morning, drained much of the water in the pool. Your city-run swimming options, in the meantime, include indoor Southwest Pool (2801 SW Thistle; schedule here) and, for the littlest West Seattleites, wading pools and Highland Park Spraypark (schedules/addresses here). Thanks to Allison at Colman Pool for the updates – including the latest photo of the sign outside.

Update: Colman Pool closed again tomorrow after ‘mechanical problem’

July 5, 2014 at 1:26 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 2 Comments

1:26 PM: Thanks to Anne from Ventana Construction (WSB sponsor) for the tip: Colman Pool (on the shore at Lincoln Park) is closed today, with a sign up citing “mechanical” problems (Anne also shared the photo of the sign). Another reader had e-mailed earlier in the day saying they’d walked by and noticed the pool was almost empty, but at the time there was no sign about its status. The lifeguard who answered the pool’s phone is tracking down more information for us to share, and we’ll add to this as soon as we get it; meantime, the city’s indoor pool in this area, Southwest Pool (2801 SW Thistle), is open as far as we know – here’s its schedule.

2:11 PM UPDATE: More information from the pool – one of the main circulation pumps failed overnight and the pool lost a lot of water. They’re working right now to find the part they need, and if it can be found and installed today, the pool could be refilled tonight and could reopen tomorrow – but note, as the sign in the photo says, the water would be cold, since there wouldn’t be time to fully reheat it, so, we’re told, they would have discount pricing. They’re promising to update their phone message and website, and we’ll update too.

5:52 PM UPDATE: Just got word that they haven’t yet procured the part they need, so the pool will be closed tomorrow too. It’s already noted on the pool website, which also makes note of the previously scheduled swim-meet dates during which Colman Pool will NOT be open for public swims – next Friday/Saturday (July 11-12).

SUNDAY NOTE: The part is expected Monday, which means the pool’s likely to reopen Tuesday. We’ll have a separate story a bit later.

Morgan Junction Park expansion: City closes the deal

July 2, 2014 at 7:38 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 33 Comments

(WSB file photo)
ORIGINAL WEDNESDAY NIGHT REPORT: Seattle Parks has notified the Morgan Community Association that it’s closed the purchase of the Morgan Junction Park expansion site at 6311 California SW. The plan has been in the works for almost two years – we first reported the sale negotiations in September 2012. The site just north of the current park includes the building housing a minimart and dry cleaner to the north, and some undeveloped land to the west. We don’t have word on the final purchase price yet; the site had originally been listed as a potential development site for $2 million. There is no money budgeted yet for developing the site, which will officially be “landbanked” for starters, but it’s one of the projects for which money is earmarked in the Park District proposal on next month’s ballot (a preliminary version was noted here last October). According to what the city has told MoCA, the timetable for demolition of the building is not set yet, so the businesses will be there a while longer; the site needs some cleanup too because of its past.

THURSDAY MORNING UPDATE: Parks says the purchase price was $1,887,000. The site is a little more than a quarter of an acre.

West Seattle 4th of July: Security, lights at 3 local fields

July 1, 2014 at 10:17 am | In Holidays, Safety, West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 6 Comments

Seattle Parks is again planning to keep the lights on at synthetic-turf fields to discourage fireworks, and says security will monitor for extended hours, too. This time, it’s planned for both Thursday and Friday (July 3-4). Three West Seattle fields are on the list for security monitoring 9 pm-4 am and lights 8:45-11 pm: Delridge, Hiawatha, and Walt Hundley, all of which have been renovated in recent years. We’re adding this to the WSB West Seattle 4th of July page, still open for other holiday info if you have something to share – editor@westseattleblog.com – thanks!

Followup: Car found in the water off Beach Drive was stolen in Queen Anne

June 23, 2014 at 1:34 pm | In Crime, West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 2 Comments

Continuing to followup on incidents that made news over the weekend – Seattle Police confirm the empty car that went into the water off Emma Schmitz Viewpoint on Beach Drive (map) was stolen. Beach Drive Blog not only reported the incident early Sunday (photo at right is republished with their permission) but also, based nearby, was on the scene before authorities, and checked in case anyone was in the car. According to the official SPD report, the car was stolen from a Queen Anne man who didn’t even know it was missing until an officer showed up at his house, but said he had left his keys inside it. The SPD report says the ignition key was found inside the car, which was locked with its windows rolled up when found upside down in a foot of water. Police believe the car was pushed off the embankment but haven’t found any witnesses yet. Later Sunday morning, BDB published aftermath photos and reported potential seawall damage; we have an inquiry out to Seattle Parks today to see if they have assessed the site yet to find out if repairs will be needed. (Earlier this year, BDB reported city plans for a new seawall there next year.)

West Seattle wildlife: Stop and smell the … dandelions!

June 20, 2014 at 9:46 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks, Wildlife | 9 Comments

It’s not just nuts that will stop a squirrel in her tracks. Trileigh Tucker shares the photos:

I encountered this incredibly photogenic squirrel foraging along the south part of the Lincoln Park beach. She appeared to be a nursing mother; maybe eating the dandelions somehow provides special nourishment to provide for her young?

Trileigh writes about nature and publishes more of her photos at naturalpresencearts.com.

Also tomorrow: Explore Hiawatha’s Olmsted Parks history

June 20, 2014 at 5:17 pm | In West Seattle history, West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | Comments Off

Just got word of this, and it’s a rare opportunity: Friends of Seattle’s Olmsted Parks is offering a free public walking tour tomorrow (10 am Saturday) of Hiawatha Playfield, designed by John Charles Olmsted more than a century ago. Meet by the park entrance at Walnut/Forest. Prepare with this history lesson (and find out about the other Olmsted parks in West Seattle via this clickable map).

Trail-building project at Fairmount Playfield to close playground for the next three weeks

June 12, 2014 at 9:02 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks, West Seattle schools | Comments Off

As newly expanded Fairmount Park Elementary gets closer to its fall opening, three weeks of work on the south end of adjacent Fairmount Playfield starts next Monday. The work will close the playground for the next three weeks, the project team just confirmed. Here’s the official notice:

Seattle School District is constructing a path in Fairmount Playfield. This path will be built from Fauntleroy Way SW to Fairmount Park Elementary School. To facilitate construction, the south portion of Fairmount Playfield will be closed. However, the ball field will remain open.

The purpose of the path is to provide a safe walking surface from the new bus load zone on Fauntleroy Way SW to the school playground. It also provides a new paved, barrier-free access to Fairmount Playground at its southern boundary.

The Seattle School District is working with the contractor to minimize construction impacts that may include truck traffic and construction noise.

The district expects almost 300 students at Fairmount Park when it opens in September, seven years after it was mothballed in a districtwide round of closures.

North Delridge Neighborhood Council: Outdoor meeting Monday

June 7, 2014 at 2:22 pm | In Delridge, West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | Comments Off

A few years ago, the North Delridge Neighborhood Council started holding its summertime meetings outdoors in various locations. The announcement of this coming Monday’s meeting has just arrived, and they’re doing it again:

Join the NDNC for our monthly meeting on Monday, June 9, at 6:30 pm. We’re starting our summer meetings in the park series with Cottage Grove Park – 26th and Brandon, the one with the kids’ play area at one end. Bring outside chairs, blankets, or anything else you need – depending on the weather, it gets cool towards the end.

We don’t have much in the way of a set agenda, so we’re holding an open meeting for you to bring any and all issues, concerns or other items.

Happening now: Kids fishing with West Seattle Sportsmen’s Club

June 7, 2014 at 10:03 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 3 Comments

About another hour left – unless supplies run out sooner – at the West Seattle Sportsmen’s Club kids’ fishing pond on the dock at Seacrest.

It’s free for kids under 14 – pole and bait provided – under the tent on the dock.

First day of second year for West Seattle’s only spraypark

May 24, 2014 at 1:50 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | Comments Off

Cloudy and 60s when we stopped by, but that wasn’t going to keep these two from being among the first to visit the Highland Park Spraypark this morning when it opened for the first day of its second year in operation. (They weren’t the only early visitors, either – the grownup keeping an eye on them told us that youth baseball players came over to run through the water after a morning game nearby!) The spraypark is scheduled to be open daily 11 am-8 pm through September 1st; it’s at 1100 SW Cloverdale. (As noted here earlier this spring, wading pools don’t start opening for another four weeks.)

Video: Seattle Park District campaign, pro and con, previewed at Delridge Neighborhoods District Council

May 23, 2014 at 10:46 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 3 Comments

On the August 5th ballot, you’ll be asked to vote for or against creating the Seattle Park District to raise more money for city parks, as the most recent park levy – the approved-in-2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy – is expiring. We reported last month on the council vote placing the proposal on the ballot. This past Wednesday, the Delridge Neighborhoods District Council got a preview of the campaign, hearing from three guests over the span of an hour and a half – City Councilmember Jean Godden, who chairs the council committee that deals with parks; Terry Holme, a longtime Parks Board member representing the pro-Park District group Seattle Parks for All; and Carol Fisher, representing the anti-Park District group Our Parks Forever. Except for a moment toward the end when we had to change cameras, the entirety of the statements, and ensuing Q/A, can be seen/heard in the two video clips above. So if you get some time this long weekend, listen in – it’s a big decision to make.

BACKGROUND INFO: This was the result of the Parks Legacy Plan process; the ordinance setting up the ballot measure creating the Park District is here; here’s how the first six years of money would be spent; here are even more details about the individual parts of that spending plan.

Another Saturday reminder: Dakota Place Park cleanup

May 16, 2014 at 9:54 pm | In How to help, West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 2 Comments

Lots going on tomorrow, as you’ll see if you take an advance look at the WSB West Seattle Event Calendar. One spotlight event to mention again in advance: Spring cleanup time at Dakota Place Park, home to the city-landmark former substation, soon to get extra space to the north. Join community volunteers 10 am-noon tomorrow. More details here, including a reminder to bring (and label) tools!

Jump into Seattle Parks’ outdoor-swimming-season preview

May 12, 2014 at 7:31 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | Comments Off

Walking along the Lincoln Park shore this evening, we noted that sign inside the front door of Colman Pool, posted after last season ended, looking ahead to the season that’s about to begin. Just today, in fact, Seattle Parks published its roundup of the dates for the start of outdoor-swimming season. We’ve already reported the start dates for local wading pools (Lincoln Park first, on June 21st – assuming that’s a 70-degree day! – others to follow) and for Highland Park Spraypark‘s second season – May 24th, which also is the first day of the first pre-season weekend at Colman Pool (schedule here). Read the citywide breakout here, and check out Parks’ Summer Guide here (PDF).

In case you wondered too: See this year’s city wading-pool schedule

April 29, 2014 at 6:14 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | 1 Comment

(WSB file photo of Hiawatha wading pool)
None of the Seattle Parks-operated wading pools/sprayparks will be open in time for the early heat that’s about to hit, but in case it makes you wonder about this year’s schedule – we discovered it’s already out. See it here. Highland Park‘s spraypark will start its second season on May 24th; after that, Lincoln Park‘s wading pool will be the first to open, on June 21st, and again this year, it will be open 7 days a week. The Delridge Community Center wading pool will start its season June 23rd and will be open Mondays, Tuesdays, Saturdays, Sundays; June 25th will be the first day for the EC Hughes (Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays) and Hiawatha (Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays) wading pools. South Park will start up on June 23rd, open Mondays, Tuesdays, Sundays.

Create a Park District to raise more money for Seattle Parks? Council approval today means you’ll vote in August

April 28, 2014 at 7:46 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle parks, West Seattle politics | 26 Comments

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

A month and a half after Mayor Murray came to Hiawatha Community Center to announce the proposal to create a Park District to raise extra money for Seattle Parks and Recreation in the years ahead, it’s ballot-bound.

That’s because, during their meeting this afternoon (archived Seattle Channel video above), the City Council voted unanimously (8-0, with West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen absent) to send it to voters.

This will replace – now and into the future – the more-recent pattern of sending ballot measures to voters every few years, levy or bond, to raise extra money for Parks. Most recent one was the five-year Parks and Green Spaces Levy approved in 2008. It was set to raise $146 million over six years, ending this year. Before that, the Pro Parks Levy approved by voters in 2000 raised $198 million over eight years.

But this time around, city leaders decided to go for a permanent way to raise extra money, instead of a fixed-term levy. The Park District would be accountable to the City Council, sitting as its board, but would have its own taxing authority. As laid out in this memo, councilmembers want the Park District to raise about $48 million a year for the first six years, 11 percent less than the $54 million the mayor had suggested. So what about the money Parks gets from the city budget now? According to the mayor’s website: “The City will continue to use City revenues to fund Parks and will continue to allocate a minimum of $89 million per year of General Fund revenues (2014 level of funding) to support Parks’ services and facilities unless the City Council by a three-fourths vote determines that a natural disaster or exigent economic circumstances prevent the Council from maintaining this level of General Fund support.”

Meantime, here’s the bill councilmembers passed to ask voters whether they will approve creation of the Park District.

In public comment before the vote, they heard from several critics who expressed concerns about accountability and about the fact that unlike the levies, citizens won’t be voting on how much they will be taxed – they will be instead voting to give the Park District taxing authority. One critic suggested few citizens had heard about this and accused the council of being “in an insulated bubble.”

Councilmembers disagreed with that. They also said an “interlocal agreement” between the city and the proposed district – set up in a second bill they passed today – would increase accountability.

Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, who chairs the Parks and Neighborhoods Committee, said it would help solve the problem of Parks’ huge unfunded maintenance backlog, estimated at more than $260 million, because 60 percent of the money raised would be spent on that. She said that over three years of trying to figure out what’s next for Parks funding, she had looked at and listened to thousands of comments.

Councilmembers Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant both acknowledged the Park District proposal wasn’t perfect, but considered it to be acceptable.

Councilmember Sally Clark described it as a tool to be used “without the council going all evil and using it for unintended purposes.”

Mayor Murray said in his announcement last month that the Park District would be able to tax up to 75 cents per $1,000 assessed value. The slightly larger funding package he was supporting at the time would have used about 42 cents of that authority, so the one the council is supporting would be a few cents less than that. After today’s council vote, he issued a statement saying the principles of his proposal “remain intact.” The mayor’s website has Q/A with more details on how the district would work.

If you’re a Seattle voter, you will be part of the final decision in the August 5th election.

Another house making way for a park: Demolition under way at Puget Ridge Edible Park site

April 21, 2014 at 11:03 am | In Gardening, Puget Ridge, West Seattle news, West Seattle parks | Comments Off

On West Seattle’s Puget Ridge, this house demolition happening now is big news – it’s the long-awaited removal of the house on the future site of Puget Ridge Edible Park (18th/Brandon). Thanks to Stu Hennessey for the photo and word that demolition has begun. PREP has been in the works for years – here’s our March 2011 report about volunteers working on the plan after the city agreed to buy the 3/4-acre site with Parks and Green Spaces Levy Opportunity Fund money. As noted on the project page, the vision for PREP is “to create an urban community farm which is a neighborhood meeting place, a community food garden and a test site for environmentally conscientious sustainability.” We’ll be following up on where the park-development plan goes from here, now that the site’s being cleared.

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