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With its focus shifted to ‘providing critical services,’ Seattle Parks planning delayed at least another year by pandemic

Seattle Parks and Recreation announced last week it will further delay the planning for the next six-year cycle of spending on the Seattle Park District, putting off changes to how it invests in maintenance, recreation affordability, park development, and supporting community events and programs.

The delay will give the process more time for “additional community outreach and understanding of changing community needs due to the pandemic and recovery efforts,” the department announcement said.

“The Seattle Park District Governing Board took the prudent step to respond to the unprecedented demands of 2020 by creating a bridge year in our strategic planning. Delivering emergency services in response to the pandemic – both health and economic impacts – must continue to be the top priority for Seattle Parks and Recreation,” Councilmember Debora Juarez, chair of the Public Assets and Native Communities committee on the council said. “Long-range planning is vital but cannot be done effectively until we have more certainty about our health, safety, and economic outlook and can incorporate the public’s valuable input.”

In 2014, Seattle voters approved the district which provides Seattle Parks and Recreation with funding for maintaining and improving its properties.

But the department says the pandemic has shifted its focus to “providing critical services, including community showers, childcare for those furthest from educational justice, enhanced cleaning of facilities and restrooms, a focus on keeping parks open while supporting public health and safety, free meals programs, and virtual programming aimed at those most isolated.”

“A delay in launching a long-term planning effort will support this continued focus on essential emergency services,” the parks announcement reads.

One center of the focus from Seattle Parks has been Cal Anderson. CHS reported on the one month-mark from the park’s sweep and clearance of activists and homeless encampments as small community efforts have been started to try to improve the park as larger questions of providing help and services to unsheltered people remain unanswered.

Parks says it is also using its time to “identify near-term actions SPR can take to support pandemic and economic recovery and deepen our commitment to equitable service delivery.”

“This will involve conducting additional focused outreach, particularly in those communities that have been the most impacted by the health emergency,” the announcement reads. ”This near-term action plan will likely inform future funding needs for the department and will prioritize actions that serve BIPOC communities and mitigate historical injustice,” it concludes.


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CHqueer
CHqueer
3 months ago

The Seattle Parks Department has failed to deliver on voter-approved funding for park maintenance, instead allowing activists, anarchists and drug addicts to occupy and degrade a public resource to a shocking and unprecedented level. We need to demand better and hold our elected leaders accountable.

NoSlushFund
NoSlushFund
3 months ago

Will only support a renewal of the parks levy if the money actually goes to parks, not to “essential emergency services, community showers, free meal programs” and other homeless support services.

This has been a pathetic bait and switch that has spent more money to make parks worse for everyone, including our unhoused neighbors.