As we begin the new year, I would like to let you know the outcome of the 2017 budget process for Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR). Overall, the 2017 SPR Budget is a good news story with the Seattle Park District in full swing along with critical investments in expanding access to our community centers and maintaining our parks as the gems of our city.
Seattle Park District
This year, we begin our second year of full implementation of the Seattle Park District, a voter-approved initiative that provides permanent funding to support parks and recreation services. In 2017, we will continue to carry out the initiatives to renovate, develop and expand Seattle’s use of parks and recreation facilities. In 2017 we will expedite the renovation of Pier 62 on the central Seattle Waterfront.
Community Center Operations
SPR’s adopted budget shifts $1.0 million within Park District funding from the capital side to the operating side to meet community needs by increasing hours of operation and staffing at centers in neighborhoods with fewer resources. This shift has also allowed us to eliminate some of the basic drop-in fees at most centers, further increasing access for our residents. This move was championed by the Mayor as part of our and supported by the Council in their role as Park District Board. Additionally, the adopted budget also provides $110,000 to fund a one-year pilot in which four facilities will be available for free showers for people experiencing homelessness.
As our approach to enlivening downtown parks has evolved, the budget includes the elimination of 1.5 vacant Park Ranger positions. With Park District funding for the Urban Parks Partnership Initiative, we have entered into contracts with downtown entities to provide physical improvements and public programming in downtown parks.
My Brother’s Keeper Program
The adopted budget provides one-time funding of $100,000 for the My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) program operated by SPR’s community learning centers. President Obama launched the MBK initiative to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential. This item will allow for the expansion of the MBK program from one middle school to five middle schools for the 2016-17 school year.
Capital Improvement Plan:
SPR’s 2017 capital budget maintains a strong commitment to asset preservation and ongoing major maintenance projects, such as environmental remediation, landscape and forest restoration, irrigation system repair, pavement restoration, and replacing major roof and HVAC systems, as well as addressing basic infrastructure needs across the system. SPR’s 2017 Capital Improvement Plan budget also provides funding for:
- Lake Union Park – the 2017 budget includes $3.6 million to correct problems with settling at Lake Union Park, including the walkways, pedestrian bridge and the park’s pond.
- Victor Steinbrueck Park – the 2017 budget leverages a park renovation project funded by the 2008 Parks Levy by adding $3.5 million over two years to make major repairs to, or replace, the membrane between the park and the privately owned parking garage which the westerly portion of the park sits atop.
- Athletic Fields Projects – revenues from increased athletic field use fees will support investments to expand athletic field capacity (see below for more information). By 2018, $600,000 per year in fee revenues will be collected in order to improve or expand athletic fields. In addition, there is $4.2 million in 2017-18 to help fund field improvements.
- PreSchool Sites – The City Council added $1,500,000 of Real Estate Excise Tax (REET) II in 2017 to fund improvements at community centers where the Seattle Preschool Program will operate.
- Danny Woo Park Improvements: City Council added $300,000 of one-time REET I funding for capital improvements at Danny Woo Park and adopted a proviso requiring $100,000 of existing funds be appropriated solely towards improvements at Danny Woo.
- Additional Public Restrooms: Council added $300,000 of one-time REET II funding towards the purchase and installation of a Portland Loo-style public restroom, similar to the two SPR recently installed as a pilot at Rainier Beach Playfied.
The budget includes increases in fees for scheduling athletic fields, park event permits (both last increased in 2011) and swimming pools (last increased in 2013). The fee revenues, along with the General Fund, support increases in inflationary costs necessary to provide these amenities and services to the public. The fee increases for athletic fields, which will go into effect July 1, will also support investments in our fields (see above).
Many thanks to you for your continued support of and involvement with our programs and services, and to Mayor Murray and the City Council for making these investments in parks and recreation services.
Seattle Parks and Recreation