We’ve talked before about Seattle Parks‘ recent maintenance woes – including this report from the Alki Community Council‘s June meeting.This afternoon, Parks managers told the City Council’s Public Assets and Homelessness Committee that they’ve been catching up via what they call a “maintenance surge.” That was the first of two Parks presentations to the committee, and you can watch starting at 48 minutes into the video recording of the meeting:
Their priorities so far have been mowing, comfort-station (standalone restroom building) maintenance, graffiti removal, and trash pickup. Staffing was a major reason they got behind, Parks reps told councilmembers, but other challenges hindered their work too – like 21 rainy days in May and 19 rainy days in June. They couldn’t do anything about the weather but they have been working on hiring, starting the year with 80+ job openings in the division responsible for maintenance, filling 50 of those positions by July, and expecting to fill another 10 this month. In the first month of the “surge,” for example, they spent 688 hours on graffiti removal, almost 50 percent more than the same month last year. In the same month, they picked up 330 tons of trash in parks, up from 270 tons a year earlier. As they catch up in these areas, the next tier of priorities includes cleaning up sport courts. Here’s the slide deck with all the numbers they shared.
After that, Parks managers segued into their second presentation, about the 129 “comfort stations” around the system. Unlike the maintenance presentation, this one had a bottom line – the department is looking for more Parks District funding to accelerate replacements and cover repairs required by damage. Right now, comfort stations get replaced in an average of every 42 years; if the current $1.6 million annual budget is increased to $2.8 million, that could drop to every 34 years. The added funding recommendation also includes half a million dollars to cover arson and vandalism. Between that and maintenance/repair needs, they respond to about 1,400 work orders a year, councilmembers were told. The average comfort-station rebuild costs $540,000, Parks said. (The one that opened late last year at 57th/Alki cost $638,000 to build.) Asked how many of the others are due for replacement, interim Superintendent Christopher Williams replied, “Most.” A list of “prioritized” projects shown during the meeting (here’s the full slide deck) included two in West Seattle – Lincoln Park by the wading pool/north play area and Westcrest Park‘s south side, Parks also says it’s working on a system to remotely lock and unlock comfort stations to improve efficiency.