Three cheers for three state award winners! This week at the Washington Recreation and Park Association (WRPA) annual conference, Seattle Parks and Recreation’s staff, facilities and programs were recognized.
Kevin Stoops, who recently retired after 37 years of service to the residents of Seattle, received the 2014 Distinguished Service Award. Kevin’s contributions included ensuring water quality at Green Lake, establishing the beach and walking trail at Lincoln Park and creating in-water, shoreline habitat for migrating salmon fry in Lake Washington.
Kevin was hired as a planning intern in 1976 when he was 21 years old and rose through the ranks to become the director of two different divisions within Seattle Parks and Recreation at different times — Planning and Development and Finance.
In each role he held, Kevin performed his work with pride and demonstrated exemplary leadership skills. He encouraged those around him to succeed and grow in their own positions and helped create future leaders.
Rainier Beach Community Center and Pool
The Rainier Beach Community Center and Pool received the 2014 Indoor Facility Spotlight Award.
The $25 million Rainier Beach Community Center and Pool opened in September 2013. The facility is 40 percent more energy-efficient than a 2009 Seattle Energy Code baseline building. Rainwater harvesting provides 100 percent of the water for toilets and urinals. Built on the site of the former community center, the new facility makes creative use of recycling. Wood beams were repurposed for siding; concrete foundations were used for onsite landfill; and the wood ceilings from the old locker rooms were re-milled and installed for the lobby ceiling.
The building averages 1,000 visitors a day and provides the only public pool in south Seattle.
The Rainier Beach community wanted a community center and pool that would bring education into community life at all levels and for all residents, and that is what Rainier Beach Community Center and Pool is proving to be.
Dancing ‘til Dusk
The Dancing ‘til Dusk program received the 2014 Program Excellence for Arts and Culture Spotlight Award.
Dancing ’til Dusk is a program inspired by the needs of one of Seattle’s most unusual and beautiful parks: Jim Ellis Freeway Park. Seven years ago, Freeway Park had become a park most people avoided, a site of illegal encampments and drug dealing. In response, Seattle Parks dedicated funds to activate and publicly energize Freeway Park other downtown parks.
Dancing ‘til Dusk began in 2007. Seattle Parks bought an outdoor dance floor, set up a bandstand and distributed invitations widely. In that first year, the program comprised five Thursday-evening dances. This year, in its seventh year, the program will have 15 evenings of dancing in four downtown parks, drawing a crowd of 500 to 800 people per dance.
Seattle Parks and Recreation also wants to applaud Young Professional Award nominee Shan Burton, Outdoor Facility Spotlight Award nominee Maple Leaf Reservoir Park and, as Innovative Outreach nominee, Parks Legacy Plan outreach efforts.
Shan Burton, Environmental Stewardship Coordinator
Shan Burton demonstrates incredible initiative to bring positive change to the community in big and small ways. She has a spectrum of experience from facilitating youth in experiential learning activities to developing community partnerships and programs. Shan has successfully attracted teens of color to engage in healthy eating, forest education and stewardship and other environmental behaviors. Because of Shan, we are reaching more children who probably would not receive this education in other forums, and the engagement rate continues to grow.
Maple Leaf Park
Maple Leaf Reservoir Park is a 16-acre park in northeast Seattle. The park had its grand opening in October 2013 and a dedication of the newly renovated play area followed in May 2013. Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is in the process of replacing its open reservoirs with underground structures to improve the quality and security of Seattle’s water supply then making those reservoir lids available as public spaces. After SPU covered Maple Leaf Reservoir, Seattle Parks used funding from the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy to create a park there. Northeast Seattle had felt the need for more greenspace. With its renovated play area and open greenspace, the park meets the need of a variety community members.
Parks Legacy Plan outreach efforts
From August to September 2013 Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Change Team reached out to 24 diverse organizations in Seattle and met with 16 organizations at their venues. Using that “in your own backyard” approach, Seattle Parks received important feedback and developed relationships with community organizations that continued to participate in the Parks Legacy Plan. The 137 postcard responses urged that the Parks Legacy Plan integrate affordability, accessibility and accountability into future programming at community center and pools. The additional outreach efforts to get input from underrepresented communities will not only enrich the Parks Legacy Plan, but will build a foundation for future engagement.