Parks Levy committee: 2 hours, 2 West Seattle mentions


That photo shows a little sliver of West Duwamish Greenbelt (from our Nature Consortium-led hike last month) … one of only two West Seattle areas that were spoken up for during tonight’s public hearing before the City Council-appointed Parks and Green Spaces Levy Citizens’ Advisory Committee. There are other West Seattle projects on the list so far; we published this West Seattle-specific breakout over the weekend (apparently the list hit the Web relatively unheralded on Friday – several of tonight’s speakers from other areas of the city complained they hadn’t heard it was posted and so came to the hearing without having had the chance to read it; they urged the committee to have one more public hearing). Here are a few notes about the West Seattle mentions, plus toplines on what the rest of the city’s interested in, and what’s scheduled to happen next:


At top left, that’s West Seattle-residing Councilmember Tom Rasmussen — who chairs the council’s Parks Committee — shown with a slice of the standing-room-only crowd (which thinned out as people got their chance to speak, of course) at the back of the room just as things got under way. He and Councilmember Tim Burgess both got acknowledgment from committee chair Beth Purcell; in a few short weeks, it will be up to them and their colleagues to decide whether to try to proceed with a parks levy for this year’s ballot, despite open opposition from Mayor Nickels.

Besides the West Duwamish Greenbelt, the only other West Seattle project to come up during public testimony was the Seattle Chinese Garden that’s under construction at South Seattle Community College, touted as the first Sichuan-style Chinese garden in the US, which is expecting dozens of artists who work in that tradition to arrive in August to work on the project.

Regarding the WDG, support was voiced by a rep from the West Seattle-based Nature Consortium as well as a woman from the Green Seattle Partnership, who noted that the greenbelt provides the “only clean water flowing into the Duwamish (River), which is historically relevant to preserve for the city … what we do now will affect whether we have a Puget Sound; herons and hawks cannot live in a condo. Tourists come to see our wild areas and we will be cutting our foot off if we deny we have one of the most beautiful areas in the world to live.” The NC advocate noted that the WDG is a six-mile-long forest corridor running parallel to the river’s six-mile-long Superfund site, and has already had a tremendous amount invested in it during restoration work — 5,000 conifers, 2,000 understory plants, and 4,000 hours of community-service time this year alone.

There were a few testimony topics with potential West Seattle ramifications — the crowd included dozens of people there to show support for playfields across the city on behalf of soccer players (just last week, Tim McMonigle of the West Seattle Soccer Club told WSB that their league’s growing so fast, they may have to expand to use South Park playfields). The Green Seattle Partnership came up frequently; one speaker urged a citywide tree inventory.

Ground rules for tonight’s hearing included a limit of three speakers per any one project. The projects that maxed out included park space for the Chinatown International District area, the aforementioned West Duwamish Greenbelt, and citywide playfields for soccer, plus a plea to add pool improvements to the package (which currently contains none; aquatics advocacy is headquartered at, which we just discovered last week) — site manager Elizabeth Nelson was among those who testified tonight, saying that for $350,000, many more city pools could get the ultraviolet treatment system that’s going in during the Southwest Pool renovation work under way now (WSB in-depth report here), which is the only way to kill certain types of organisms, and also, Nelson said, increases energy efficiency because with less chlorination, pools can be covered to retain heat.

A few speakers weren’t there to pitch for specific projects. One woman said that she doesn’t want to vote for more money to buy/create more parks; she wants money spent on better maintenance of what the city already has. Another speaker said she’d been doing an “equity analysis” of the projects proposed for the levy, and she says some areas of the city are getting shortchanged (not ours; her numbers show the Southwest area “overfunded”).

A few speakers were there mostly to say thanks for what’s in the package so far, including a Solid Ground representative who’s glad to see a line item for urban farming, and mentioned South Park’s Marra Farm as a success story (producing 13,000 pounds of food for local families in need), and the Georgetown Council‘s president Holly Krejci, who exuberantly thanked committee members for including a potential Georgetown spray park.

There wasn’t much conflict, with one notable exception; a Woodland Park Zoo manager pleaded for projects including $3 million to filter the water in the hippo pool; she was followed by a Fremont man who dismissed the zoo as “a privately run nonprofit” that he thinks should raise its own money rather than ask to be included in the city parks levy. Another speaker spent time urging the committee not to support projects (like Delridge Playfield) that call for synthetic turf, describing it as “made of hazardous waste” — recycled tires.

That led to another theme that emerged — more than one speaker suggesting there’s not enough “green” in the “Parks and Green Spaces Levy” draft at this point, with proposals including building improvements for the Asian Art Museum (which maxed out on speakers).

And a few of the pitches might have made you feel lucky to live in West Seattle — like the one mentioning the Queen Anne/Magnolia area has not a single offleash area (WS at least has one, at Westcrest Park), and Discovery Park advocates saying that at this point that huge park’s been completely shut out of this plan.

WHAT’S NEXT: The committee is scheduled to meet one more time June 24, then forward its recommended “package of projects” for the potential levy to the council on June 27. If a levy is going to be placed on this fall’s ballot, August 12 has been mentioned as the “drop-dead” date for a decision to do that. Chair Purcell promised attendees that new information will continue to be added to the city website — caveat from our experience, while this is the official page for levy information, we found the project breakout over the weekend NOT on that page but on the council’s main page instead, so watch that too if this is an issue of major interest to you.

5 Replies to "Parks Levy committee: 2 hours, 2 West Seattle mentions"

  • kathy June 18, 2008 (7:43 am)

    Thanks for a great write-up. It makes me wonder why the mayor opposes the parks levy which, in turn, will force me to be more informed about the other issues out there that are screaming for more money.

  • WSB June 18, 2008 (8:28 am)

    The official explanation in various citywide-media articles in recent months has been that he would rather wait a couple years. Several people last night, after pitching their neighborhood projects, noted that waiting will only cost the taxpayers more, as the cost of acquiring land for new park space and constructing new features isn’t likely to go down.

  • d June 18, 2008 (9:54 am)

    In light of your article describing the clamoring for funds, it seems fairly remarkable that The Seattle Chinese Garden at SSCC survived and is moving forward! As a frequent visitor to the wonderful SSCC gardens, I have been anticipating it’s completion since I moved to WS.

    I’m going to check out the docent tours available, once the artisans from China arrive to do the installations. The area had been fenced off and the tours and the website should appease the curiosity and excitement about this spectacular addition to our cultural landscape! West Seattle and the entire city is lucky to have this. Thanks to the many folks who worked to make it happen!

  • old timer June 18, 2008 (1:23 pm)

    I think that the mayor is afraid that the Parks Levy when presented at the same time as a special Pike Place Market renovation levy would result in the rejection of both.
    I see the logic in that, and I would like to vote ‘yes’ on one levy at a time. The Market need help again, and maybe it’s time for Parks to take a bit of a break.

  • Pete June 18, 2008 (3:03 pm)

    If you take the amount of the Park Levy and add it to the amount of the Market Levy it will equal the amount of the existing Pro Parks levy that sunsets at the end of this year. If both of these levy’s are on the ballot and pass there will be no net new taxes for homeowners to pay. It will also be less expensive to do the proposed parks projects now in today’s dollars than wait for 3 or 4 years to do the projects when they will obviously cost more to do.

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