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Neighborhood Service Center Closure News

You’ll recall that the City’s budget woes have resulted in the closure of our local Neighborhood Service Center (in the Capitol Hill library) and the loss of the services of the Center’s Coordinator, Thomas Whittemore.

Thomas wrote to me:

The good news is that I will be on a reinstatement list if a Neighborhood District Coordinator decides to retire in the next two years.  So in the meantime, I will try  to get my cartoon web site up and running and consider other options.

Stella Chao, director of the Department of Neighborhoods writes (links by me):

I want to clarify that the Department is not making any proposals for changing the 13 Neighborhood Districts, or the 13 District Councils and the City Neighborhood Council

There are two major areas that need to be addressed by year’s end:

1) the closure of the 6 non-payment  Neighborhood Service Centers

We have issued an announcement, posted signs on the doors of the Neighborhood Service Centers, and spoken to local media to inform community members about the closures: Greater Duwamish, Downtown, East, Queen Anne, Fremont, and Greenwood Neighborhood Services will be closed as of January 1, 2011.

Those organizations that co-located in the 6 closing sites were informed during the budget process and upon budget adoption department staff began formal conversations with them and assisted them in identifying  alternative sites. Each organization has made its independent decision about their relocation and have informed their constituents directly.

We are encouraging everyone to use our 7 remaining Neighborhood Service Centers at New Holly, West Seattle, Delridge, Central Area, University District, Lake City, and Ballard. These are also payment and information service centers that provide a greater range of community services. Please see the department’s website for addresses and hours or contact us for more information.

2) new staffing plan for the District Coordinators

Department of Neighborhoods will implement the interim staffing plan on January 1, 2011. We have been meeting with the Mayor’s Office, the City Budget Office, the District Coordinators and their representing Union to receive input and agreement on the interim staffing plan. Several models were proposed and the final interim plan was a first choice for the District Coordinators, the Department Management, and the Mayor’s Office.

In the new year we will begin conversations with the District Councils and other community stakeholders regarding the long-term staffing plan for the District Coordinators.  At that time, we can take several things into consideration – the reduction in staff to serve the same geographic area, changes in population demographics reported by the Census, addressing issues that were brought up in the District Council audit and subsequent input collected by DON staff and the CNC ( DON report to be provided in January 2011).

By January 1, we will provide you with updated information about the interim staffing plan for serving the 13 Neighborhood Districts:

                which District Coordinators will be located in which areas?

                who will community members be able to call and email?

                where will the offices be located and what are expectations about service?

                who will staff the District Councils and at what level?

A changing environment always pushes for evolution – new challenges have emerged for the City and our neighborhoods that need to be addressed. Our 20-year old system needs to make adaptations to best operate in  its current environment, to improve upon itself, and to best serve the emerging needs of our community members.

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