Earlier today, we received some more information about the mayor’s proposed 2011 city budget from Christopher Williams, Acting Superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation.
“I would like to start by making it clear that the 2011 budget proposal does not result in closure of the Green Lake Community Center,” said Williams. “In fact it, and proposals for several other centers, enables us to keep the doors open at all community centers, some with limited hours.”
According to Williams, the Green Lake Community Center was chosen to be a limited-use site because the Ravenna-Eckstein and Northgate Community Centers are nearby and because small classrooms at the Green Lake facility place limits on programming.
What exactly will the impact be if the Green Lake Community Center becomes a limited-use site?
Williams said that the following programs would continue:
Age 3-5 Pre-K School
Adult basketball leagues
Table Tennis (fee-based programs on Saturday and Sunday)
Adult and youth pottery
Tot play space in the gym (Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.)
Drop-in basketball (evenings)
Drop-in volleyball (evenings)
The following programs would be moved:
Teen programs will relocate to Northgate Community Center
Creative Dance will move to Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center
Tot Dance, Yoga with Baby, and music classes for tots and pre-K (Katy Webber’s classes) will move to Northgate Community Center
The following programs would be canceled:
Drop-in chess (Parks staff are working on finding another location for it)
Private music lessons
Indoor soccer for tots
As well, there would be limited hours of drop-in time for teens and seniors, and interaction with professional staff would be limited to drop-in hours.
Evans Pool and Green Lake Park would continue to operate as usual, although there will be reduced maintenance at the park if City Council adopts the mayor’s proposed budget.
Why the changes?
If City Council adopts the mayor’s proposed budget on Nov. 22, about 25 Parks staff will move to Green Lake Community Center. This means staff will be on site many hours per day. The level of community center staffing would drop from 6.5 “full-time equivalents” (FTEs) to a half-time custodian and a .65 FTE recreation staff person.
Many Green Lake residents have questioned where funding will come from to pay for the construction of cubicles for Parks staff in the community center. Williams clarified that this funding will not come out of the 2011 budget, as Parks already has funding in the 2010 budget for it.
Referencing the signs that were posted in the community center last week which indicated that construction would begin on Nov. 4 “due to budget cuts,” Williams said this his department apologizes for posting these before City Council approved the mayor’s proposed budget. “One diligent project manager was trying to get his project done by January 4,” Williams said, “in the event the Council approves the proposal. The work has stopped and will not begin again unless and until the Council approves the budget. The work consists of electrical and cable upgrades that would have taken place anyway, and the installation of office dividers (no walls). This conversion can easily be reversed.”
Many Green Lake residents have suggested that Parks staff offices be relocated to other City-owned property such as at Magnuson Park, or to Marshall School. “Parks would have to pay rent at any City-owned property and at Marshall School, which is owned by the Seattle School District,” William said. “At our own facilities we pay no rent. There is no habitable (e.g., move-in ready) space at Magnuson Park. The only available spaces require millions of dollars of upgrades in order to meet current building codes.”
Williams said that another question has “come up often” from Green Lake residents: How can Parks give millions of dollars to capital projects like the ballfield lighting to the south, and then cut funding for Green Lake Community Center? “In Seattle,” he said, “the fund sources for capital projects (land acquisition, construction, and major upgrades) are separate from the fund sources for operating budgets (day-to-day staffing, supplies, computers, vehicles, etc.) By law they cannot be commingled. The funding for the ballfield projects in Lower Woodland Park, and many other park acquisition and development projects, comes from the Parks and Green Spaces Levy that Seattle voters approved in November 2008. Real estate excise taxes, collected when property is bought or sold, fund upgrades to parks and park buildings. The City’s General Fund, which with fees and charges supports Parks and Recreation’s operations, comes primarily from property, sales, business & occupation, and utility taxes. This is the fund that is seeing huge revenue shortfalls because of the recession.”
Some Green Lake residents have also expressed, according to Williams, that they feel that the Green Lake neighborhood has been “shortchanged” in terms of park improvements. “Major park improvements are often funded by bond issued and levies that generous Seattle voters often approve,” Williams explains. “Recent park improvements in the Green Lake include, from the 2000 Pro Parks Levy the purchase and development of Linden Orchard and the Shade Plaza between Evans Pool and Green Lake Way; from the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy renovation of two Lower Woodland Park ballfields and the playground; and from other sources, renovation of the Evans Pool HVAC system, repair of the Small Craft Center parking lot, and a new skatepark just to the south of the lake.”
Final decisions about the 2011 City Budget are now in the hands of City Council.
City Council has held two public hearings about the budget and Councilmember Rasmussen hosted a community discussion in Green Lake. There will be a third and final public hearing on Oct. 26. You can find more details here.
Until Oct. 27 at 5 p.m., you can share your thoughts with City Council via the online tool IdeaScale. Contact information for individual city council members can be found here. City Council will continue to accept written and e-mailed comments on the budget up to the date that they adopt the final budget, which is anticipated to be Nov. 22.
If you would like more details about the 2011-2012 budget, you can read previous My Green Lake stories about local politics here.