City of Seattle announces new partnerships to activate public parks

Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle Parks and Recreation today announced this year’s Urban Parks Partnership Initiative’s community partners. The program provides opportunities to build community around our urban parks, improving the health of community members and bringing youth and families together. Each of this year’s partner organizations will be awarded a one-time grant of $46,000 to increase the vibrancy and enjoyment of select downtown parks.

“Activating our urban parks with performances, festivals, classes, and more helps to engage users in enjoying public spaces,” said Mayor Murray. “This partnership is a wonderful opportunity to build community around our urban parks, promote the health of community members, connect individuals to the outdoors and bring more joy into downtown life.”

Park locations include Cascade Playground, Freeway Park, Hing Hay Park, Danny Woo International Children’s Garden, Kobe Terrace, Bell Street Park, Tilikum Place, and Belltown Cottage Park and P-patch. Awardees include:

  1. Cascade Playground Activation Committee, which is comprised of Cascade neighborhood residents, small and large businesses, non-profit groups, local churches, and the Downtown Seattle Association.
  1. Jim Ellis Freeway Park Association, which is comprised of neighborhood residents, property owners and stakeholders, including the First Hill Improvement Association, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Horizon House, Exeter House, Town Hall, the Washington State Convention Center, and others.
  1. InterIm Community Development Association, which is comprised of International Community Health Services, Wing Luke Museum, Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority, and the International District Business Improvement Area.
  1. Friends of Belltown Parks, which is comprised of neighborhood residents, local businesses, Belltown United, Belltown Business Association, Belltown Community Council and Downtown Seattle Association/ Metropolitan Improvement District.

The four partner organizations will bring park staffing, classes, activities, events, games, temporary art, concerts, furnishings and other amenities to the specific park or parks for which they have taken on a partner role. Seattle Parks and Recreation will continue to maintain the selected parks on a daily basis, handle all permitting, and continue some programming such as Dancing ‘til Dusk, Free Family Fun Days, Center City Cinema and concierge services. The partnership agreements will be in place until the end of the year, with the possibility for renewal in 2017.

Activities and events already in the works include the Wilderness Inner-City Leadership Development (WILD) program led by the Wing Luke Museum, expansion of the Winterlights festival in Freeway Park, expansion of the Belltown Beats on Bell Street, and new programs such as the Reading Room in the Park, to be held at Cascade Playground.

“Whether it’s food, fitness or fun you’re after, the Parks Partnership has something for everyone,” said Councilmember Sally Bagshaw. “No matter if I’m enjoying a bite from my favorite food truck in Westlake or live music at Occidental, our parks are truly the best way to celebrate summer in Seattle.”

“We have three big priorities in everything we do: promote healthy habits, connect people to each other and nurture a love for the environment. I see the Urban Parks Partnership as a vibrant way to make an impact in all three of those areas just by getting residents outdoors and engaging with each other through art, celebration and gathering,” said Jesús Aguirre, Superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation.

In January 2016, Seattle Parks and Recreation conducted a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) process advertising this partnership opportunity. Communities were asked to work collaboratively on proposals for their neighborhood parks.

The Urban Park Partnership Initiative is made possible by funding from the Seattle Park District. Approved by voters in 2014, the Seattle Park District provides more than $47 million a year in long-term funding for Seattle Parks and Recreation, including maintenance of parklands and facilities, operation of community centers and recreation programs, and development of new neighborhood parks on previously-acquired sites.