Mayor unveils new strategic plan for City’s community centers

Investments to be included in Mayor’s 2017 proposed budget

Today Mayor Ed Murray was joined by Seattle Parks and Recreation Director Jesús Aguirre and South Park community members to unveil a strategic plan calling for new investments in the City’s community centers to reduce barriers and expand access in underserved areas of Seattle.  The investments will be a part of Murray’s 2017 proposed budget to City Council this September.

“Seattle’s community centers are a vital piece of our parks and recreation system and we must ensure these spaces meet the needs of all residents across the city,” said Mayor Murray. “In my proposed 2017 budget, I will call for the expansion of community center hours, staffing and programming, and eliminate drop-in fees and make scholarships easier to attain. We must ensure that as we grow, we do so equitably, and our recreational spaces must be safe and accessible places for everyone.”

The strategic plan touches each community center in the city, including reduced programming costs and increased hours and staffing in centers where residents have fewer resources to pay for programming and fewer recreational options. A detailed summary of the proposals can be found here.

“This plan represents an opportunity for Seattle Parks and Recreation to continue our work to ensure that all of our residents have access to the great programs and facilities we provide,” said Jesús Aguirre director of Seattle Parks and Recreation Department. “As our City grows and changes, our community centers will continue to play a critical role in serving the unique needs of each community, while also serving as an interconnected system that serves the broader city. It’s also important to note that this plan is a bridge plan that will start a conversation on how Seattle Parks and Recreation will engage with and serve each of our residents in the years to come, through our community centers and our other facilities and open spaces.”

The City will provide free programming at five community centers: Bitter Lake, Garfield, Rainier Beach, Van Asselt, and South Park. The proposal also calls for Parks and Recreation to eliminate drop-in fees for activities such as toddler gyms and basketball at all community centers.

“This is great news for South Park and communities all over Seattle,” said Paulina Lopez, South Park community leader and advocate. “We have been asking for more hours at the community center to help our kids and families lead happier and healthier lives. This announcement is an exciting day for my community and I thank the City of Seattle for making today a reality.”

As part of this process, Parks will undertake a comprehensive long-term planning process in 2017-2018 for the entire Parks and Recreation system. This system-level plan will consider how to best use all assets, including community centers, pools, parks, and trails, to serve the Seattle community. This plan will build on the work of the Legacy Plan  with additional public input, and will include evaluation of the community center innovations and pilot projects.

Last year, Mayor Murray announced $47 million in Seattle Park District funding to invest in major improvements to community centers, open spaces, and facilities across the Seattle Park and Recreation system. Today’s announcement builds off last year’s investment by identifying specific proposals to develop innovative, accessible, and culturally relevant programming in the City’s community centers.

Summary of Operating Recommendations by Community Center