Send us Tips

Parks Department announces specific cuts to be made to Green Lake Community Center under mayor’s proposed budget

What do you think? (5 Comments) October 25, 2010 at 1:48PM

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)
Ballet
Private music lessons
Tot sports
Karate
African dance
Youth fencing
Indoor soccer for tots
Kempo
Adult yoga
Hula

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.

5 Responses to “Parks Department announces specific cuts to be made to Green Lake Community Center under mayor’s proposed budget”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Vote!

    Five ballot measures (1053, 1082, 1100, 1105 & 1107) combined would cost state and local communities over $1.2 billion. The liquor initiatives would hit cities particularly hard – costing up to $700 million when we already have a $60M deficit. Vote NO on these bad ballot measures to help save our community centers.

  2. Hewittel says:

    This really gets my back up. I can hardly express how upset it makes me. Their letter shows how “important” they feel the Green Lake community is to them (NOT). Do we want to provide Parks Dept Customer Service to schedule weddings, picnics and events? Or do we want them to provide the “walkable” services for visitors like the ones being cancelled? Being cancelled: – in their own words (my comments included in parens.)

    DPR – Drop-in chess (Parks staff are working on finding another location for it), Ballet, Private music lessons, Tot sports, Karate, African dance, Youth fencing, Indoor soccer for tots, Kempo, Adult yoga, Hula. (They say there will be limited hours of drop-in time for teens and seniors – three hours). Interaction with professional staff will be limited to (3) drop-in hours.

    Programs they cite as being continued include:

    DPR – Age 3-5 Pre-K School (only until June 2011, after objections were made at Tom Rasmussen’s Listening Session. This will be continued only if it is deemed compatible with “other uses” – it will be located next to the proposed Parks Dept. conference/meeting room on the 1st floor), Adult basketball leagues (for pay), Table Tennis (fee-based programs on Saturday and Sunday), Adult and youth pottery (ONLY if money is found to pay for the operation of the kilns), Tot play space in the gym (will ONLY take place Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.), Drop-in basketball (evenings), Drop-in volleyball (evenings).

    Emphasis on “walkable local use” that we understood was a value of our fair city, along with “bicycle-friendly use” – well, what Green Lake senior citizens are up for walking, or even biking, to Northgate or Ravenna-Eckstein? What parents of young children? Plus it costs (not a little) money to take the bus (and bus routes are being scrutinized for reduction / elimination). This change increases the need to drive our cars if we are to participate.

    DPR – Teen programs will relocate to Northgate Community Center (will be bused there until Dec. 31, 2010 – 2 months – after that no provision). Creative Dance will move to Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center (too far for me to walk). Tot Dance, Yoga with Baby, and music classes for tots and pre-K (Katy Webber’s classes) will move to Northgate Community Center (Again, walk there? Take the bus (not cheap).

    Lots of money, on the other hand, is being spent for “Road Diets” to make driving more difficult and insure the convenience and safety of bicycle riding.

    Evans Pool and all services will cost more. Maintenance will be reduced.

    DPR – Evans Pool and Green Lake Park will continue to operate as usual; however, regular park visitors will begin to notice the effects of reduced maintenance at the park, another result of budget reductions.

    But they can spend $188,000 making the building suitable for their private offices and cubicles?

    DPR – 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. (But will they, after spending $188,000 on them? NOT.)

    Electrical and cable upgrades were NOT in any budget looking as far ahead as 2016.

    Let’s face it – new Community Centers will be built and maintained where it is Politically Correct to do it, or where they have conferred “favored location” status . I guess Green Lake is not important enough, or not Politically-Correct enough, to even maintain.

  3. [...] we have reported previously, Mayor McGinn’s proposed 2011-2012 city budget would transform the Green Lake Community [...]

  4. Rickbarrett says:

    SEATTLE COMMUNITY COUNCIL FEDERATION
    Regular Meeting
    NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency), Pacific Marine Center on Lake Union
    1801 Fairview Avenue East
    http://seattlefederation.blogspot.com/
    Thursday, October 28, 2010

    AGENDA

    Seattle’s Budget Crisis—Preserving Essential Services in the Economic Downturn
    featuring Councilmember Jean Godden and Dr. Ben Noble

    Councilmember Jean Godden, Chair of the City Council Budget Committee, and Dr. Ben Noble, Director of Council Central Staff, will update you about the city budget process and answer questions. How will the City Council close the $67 million budget shortfall? Will the Council agree with the Mayor’s proposed tax and fee increases and cuts to essential services? Is there logic to the Mayor’s proposed budget?

    Will the City lose neighborhood service center coordinators? How can the City’s neighborhood policing program function with the loss of crime prevention coordinators? Is it fair to target five of the City’s 26 community centers for major cuts and closure? Are the cuts to the highly cost-effective Neighborhood Matching Fund reasonable? Will Linden Avenue really get its planned sidewalks or will that long-awaited project go on the chopping block?

    The budget that the City Council will adopt in November may be the most important for City government in a generation. Several statewide ballot measures on the November ballot could further reduce the available revenues, so City Council decisions are not yet solidified and YOU can make a difference.

    Find out the latest and bring your issues and questions. Help decide what recommendations should go into the Federation’s budget letter.

    7:00 Call to Order and Introductions
    Administration
    1. Changes to the agenda
    2. Treasurer’s report
    3. President’s report
    7:15 Seattle’s Budget Crisis: Councilmember Jean Godden and Dr. Ben Noble
    8:30 Round Robin: Bring your issues and budget priorities
    9:00 Adjourn
    NOAA is a federal facility on high security alert, so attendees must enter by the security gate and may need to present photo ID. If you haven’t attended a recent Federation meeting, please send your name, contact information, and address to rickbarrett@gmail.com to be added to the entry list. No e-mail? Call 206-365-1267. The building is ADA compliant, with ample parking in front.

  5. [...] The mayor, Williams said, considers himself “a parks guy,” but “he can’t make money appear where there is none.” To avoid completely closing community centers, five facilities were identified across the Parks system as perspective “limited use” sites.  Green Lake Community Center is one of these sites.  You can read about the potential impact to classes and programs at Green Lake here. [...]