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More parks department budget cut worries: community centers, wading pools

CHS has been reporting on the potential Seattle Parks budget cuts including concerns from its supporters that the Volunteer Park Conservatory might face closure. KING 5 is now reporting that Parks is “considering the closure of two community centers and two to three community swimming pools within the next few weeks.” Also on the cut list: 24 of the city’s 27 wading pools.

Outgoing Seattle Parks superintendent Tim Gallagher told KING that Volunteer Park’s wading pool will continue to operate as will the Green Lake and LIncoln Park wading pools. Last summer, CHS speculated that the Volunteer Park wading pool might be more crowded than ever because so many of the city’s other pools were closed for important safety upgrades. This summer might bring even more kids to the Volunteer Park pool.

A more serious closure would be a facility like the Miller Park Community Center. Nobody at Parks is talking, yet, about what community centers are on the line and it seems unlikely that the only community center serving the Hill would be closed but we’ll see what we can learn about the situation.

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10 thoughts on “More parks department budget cut worries: community centers, wading pools

  1. I don’t want to see Parks or Libraires cut. And it is political suicide to cyt cops, fire department and 911. What can we as a community suggest for budget cuts to meet revenue?

  2. Can I take my dog in the wading pool?

    Not that I should need to ask, I can do what I want when I want.

    Just a few things about my dog before you say no:
    – He speaks English.
    – He is a trained therapist.
    – He does not eat his own poop (any longer).
    – He does not lick his own butt only other dogs butts (so it shouldn’t be a health risk to anyone).
    – He is prone to sniffing other people’s genitals without permission. (If a human did this they would be considered a sex offender but he is a dog).
    – He is vegetarian and does not like animal carcasses hung on walls.

  3. I truly do not understand why the citizens of our great city continue to build approve levies for new parks when we have learned the hard way, over and over, that they will not be maintained. It eludes me.

  4. The two parks levies that were passed in 2000 and 2008 were actually not just about park acquisitions. In fact, of the 2008 Parks and Green Space Levy only $30 million of the $146 million dollars was for actual acquisition funds. The vast majority of the funds are for parks improvements or upgrades, for example, bringing child play areas up to current safety standards or providing seismic upgrades to parks-owned buildings, such as the original Seattle Art Museum (now the Seattle Asian Art Museum) and the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center. While is it incredibly sad that the parks operating budget has been gutted, the money provided through the two levies were necessary for maintaining accessibility and safety within our current parks land and we should be proud that through those levies we were on of the top cities in the nation in parks funding over the last decade. It is also important to note that parks acquisitions remain parks land indefinitely. So even if we are currently in a crisis we can look forward to improving these now public plots of land in the future,.

    That said, I think the current budget crisis for Parks is an unfortunate wake up call for how much we underfund our green spaces. Many of the champions of the Parks Levies also realized this budget shortfall, but understood that politically, approving a levy was much easier than finding a permanent funding source. This is also why we have the Seattle Parks Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving Seattle’s green spaces. I encourage those that have the means to donate or volunteer with the Seattle Parks Foundation. Or, if they are truly enraged, begin a campaign similar to the Seattle Streets for All Campaign that will point out to our elected officials that open and green space is important to Seattle citizens and deserves a much larger dedicated funding source.

  5. Tim Gallagher almost certainly did not resign on his own initiative. To understand this you have to understand the most recent events, the current budget crisis, and the most recent Pro Parks Levy.

    On Monday April 26th 2010 Mayor Mike Mcginn told Superintendent Tim Gallagher that he had to go to his office immediately upon his return from his trip. It is almost certain that the Mayor gave the superintendent an ultimatum, either he resign or he would be terminated. This was allegedly because of his most recent trip to a professional conference in Australia. While the city did pay for him to attend the conference he purchased his own plane ticket for the trip. There is no conflict of interest or corruption on the part of the superintendent.

    I would contend that the real reason for this has to do with the Pro Parks Levy voters recently passed in 2008. Mike Mcginn was a significant architect of this levy. When Mike Mcginn was running for office he time and again used this levy as evidence of his ability to lead the city. He bragged about his grass roots efforts and tremendous impact this levy will have on voters.

    In 2007 and 2008 when the first signs of the faltering economy were showing. Seattle was still doing ok but it was clear the housing bubble was ultimately going to nab us too. The city would be faced with a similar crisis to that of other cities in the country in a matter of time.

    Despite the initial signs, the soon to be mayor convinced the public to support this Pro Parks Levy. The unfortunate reality for Mayor Mcginn is that this levy lacked any foresight and was based from a delusional perspective of spend now and worry later. While there are many great things this levy does like the retrofitting Langston Hughes, the biggest problem is the millions of dollars in new acquisitions for the parks department. Anyone with some foresight would realize it does not make sense to expand the Parks departments when we can’t maintain what we already have.

    Seattle Parks Finance Director Carol Everson said the new acquisitions alone will require more than $2 million extra for operations and maintenance. Even programs that include heavy volunteer involvement, like the Green Seattle Partnership for forest restoration – the subject of a glowing presentation just before the budget briefing – come with an operations/maintenance cost; for GSP, that’s projected at more than $1 million/year.

    Mayor Mcginn got took office in 2010. One of the major pillars of his election campaign is crumbling. Timothy Gallagher has been arguing for some time now that we cannot afford to acquire millions in new assets as the levy mandates especially when the parks department is faced with a roughly a 10 million deficit in 2011 from 2010 levels. Add on top of that 2 million in additional maintenance costs for new properties.

    Was the superintendent’s resignation the result of him attending a professional conference or the embarrassment to the mayor that the 2008 Pro Parks Levy will certainly add to the financial collapse of the Seattle Parks Department?

  6. “Anyone with some foresight would realize it does not make sense to expand the Parks departments when we can’t maintain what we already have. “

    I respectfully and ENTIRELY disagree.
    BUILD maybe no. BUY? Hells Yes.

    anyone with some (financial-, estate planning-, urban design-) foresight would be pleased as hell that we set aside $30M at the start of a recession: a time when we citizens could get the Most For Our Dollar, and also get land that otherwise wouldn’t be offered at all or would normally be snapped up for profitmongering condo development.

    The levy didn’t dictate that the acquisitions HAVE to be developed into parks immediately – in fact, THAT would be the foolish thing to do – but it Did provide a way to purchase property while property values are down.
    It’s one of the smartest things I’ve seen our city do.

    ( BTW: McGinn didn’t make it happen or not happen, voters did.)

  7. What can we suggest for budget cuts?

    I know it’s cliche, but how ’bout cut the high salaries?

    (according to ‘freedom of info’ queries) Top 20 highest paid folks on our city’s payroll last year:
    Carrasco; Kern; Sodeman; Duggins; Oleson; Walsh; Nakamichi; George; Zander; Fosse; Gallo; Teffre; Johnson; Hastings; Gill Jr; Schultz; Ceis; Walsh; Diaz
    (Most are fire battalion chiefs and city light lineworkers, a few are “Exec-level4”.)

    So, the sum of these 20 salaries (averaging between 193K and 273K/yr!) =
    3.99 million dollars!!! …for 20 workers!!

    Overtime pay, citywide for all employees, equalled …How much? How many MILLIONS of dollars?!? *49 million* We need smarter staffing/HR than that!

    [ someone please explain to me how, for example, Patrol Officer D. George is making a gross pay of $211,000 in 2009? Please…? ]
    [Probably the most impressive salary-to-OT ratio is G.Hess, who has THE highest OT (5 digit) earned for someone otherwise making a 5-digit salary: 35K in OT alone. Job? Stage Technician for Seattle Center. ]
    [the emperor of OT though has gotta be linewrker Walczak: $78,151.76 in OT alone last year.]

    Or, less friendly, …put more of health care premium costs into city-employee hands (like regular non-gov citizens have to do).