January 14, 2016 Board of Park Commissioners meeting canceled

Due to scheduling issues, the Board of Park Commissioners will hold their first meeting of 2016 on Jan. 28 at the Queen Anne Community Center.

The Seattle Board of Park Commissioners is a nine-member citizen board created by the City Charter. Four members are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council; four members are appointed by the City Council; and one member is a young adult appointed by the YMCA Get Engaged http://pugetsoundoff.org/getengaged. The Board generally meets twice a month, normally on the second and fourth Thursday, to advise the Parks and Recreation Superintendent, the Mayor, and the City Council on parks and recreation matters.

 

Nov. 12 and Dec. 10, 2015 Board of Park Commissioners meetings canceled

The Board of Park Commissioners canceled the Nov. 12 and Dec. 10, 2015 meetings for the busy holiday season. The Board will reconvene in January.

The Seattle Board of Park Commissioners is a nine-member citizen board created by the City Charter. Four members are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council; four members are appointed by the City Council; and one member is a young adult appointed by the YMCA Get Engaged program  http://pugetsoundoff.org/getengaged. The Board generally meets twice a month, normally on the second and fourth Thursday, to advise the Parks and Recreation Superintendent, the Mayor, and the City Council on parks and recreation matters.

June 11, 2015 Board of Park Commissioners meeting canceled; presentation and public hearing to be held on June 25

The Board of Park Commissioners canceled the June 11 meeting. They will host a public hearing on Thursday, June 25, to take comments on Supplemental Use Guidelines for Greenbelts and Natural Areas.

The public hearing will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the Kenneth R. Bounds Board Room at Seattle Parks and Recreation Headquarters, 100 Dexter Ave. N.

The Supplemental Use Guidelines will serve as a transparent tool to evaluate use proposals in Parks’ classified Natural Areas and Greenbelts. This tool will include a check list of criteria that will allow for low-intensity, passive and active recreation activities while minimizing adverse impacts on the environment. It will provide criteria to determine the compatibility of activities in these areas, their design character and level of use; while providing access, opportunity and sustainability.

The intent of this effort is to develop values-based guidelines for the appropriate use of Seattle’s natural areas and greenbelts. This process will result in a vision for natural areas and greenbelts that will maintain the native forest ecosystem, protect public safety and enhance positive uses over the long-term.

Parks staff will present their findings based on their robust outreach efforts, which includes feedback from key stakeholders, the MindMixer survey, and the mini-summit held in April.

Those who want to give input, but are not able to come to the meeting can send written comments to rachel.acosta@seattle.gov.

The Seattle Board of Park Commissioners is a nine-member citizen board created by the City Charter. Four members are appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council; four members are appointed by the City Council; and one member is a young adult appointed by the YMCA Get Engaged program http://pugetsoundoff.org/getengaged. The Board generally meets twice a month, normally on the second and fourth Thursday, to advise the Parks and Recreation Superintendent, the Mayor, and the City Council on parks and recreation matters.

 

 

Project to build bike/pedestrian trail in SE Seattle moving forward

Seattle Parks and Recreation is moving forward with a plan to design and build the Cheasty Mountain Bike and Pedestrian Trail Pilot Project in the Cheasty Greenspace in southeast Seattle.

Last Thursday, May 28, the Seattle Park Board of Commissioners voted to move forward with the proposed trail project.

In addition, the Board voted unanimously to support the proposed designs for the trail. The Board also approved the Phase II addition of a cross trail to create a safe walking route from Rainier Vista to North Beacon Hill and “skills trails” on the south side of the proposed project area. Phase II will occur if the 15-month pilot project is successful and the environmental evaluation studies are favorable.

“This is an exciting opportunity to bring positive activation to a greenspace that has been plagued with dumping, encampments and illicit behavior,” said Christopher Williams, Acting Superintendent for Seattle Parks and Recreation. “We will be creating an accessible urban public space that can be enjoyed by the rapidly growing population of families in the surrounding neighborhoods, many of whom do not have access to the wilderness outside of their community. We are looking forward to the community spending time recreating and exploring in this wonderful space.”

The Greenspace is a 38-acre park on the east slope of Beacon Hill between Cheasty Boulevard and Martin Luther King Jr. Way S in southeast Seattle.

Acting Superintendent Williams will forward a recommendation to the City Council soon, as directed by Ordinance No. 124546.

The project will provide a soft surface mountain bike trail in the Greenspace. The goal is to provide a mountain bike experience for users of all ages and abilities in conjunction with ongoing and future forest restoration.

The Board of Park Commissioners discussed and deliberated on the Friends of Cheasty Greenspace at Mountain View’s mountain bike/pedestrian trail proposal at public meetings in November 2013 and January 2014. The recommendation to the Parks Superintendent was that Seattle Parks should initiate a pilot project to allow mountain bike trails to be built in the Cheasty Greenspace, in conjunction with restoration and foot trails. Seattle Parks and Recreation worked with community stakeholders during a five-month public Project Advisory Team process for the trail project.

For more information about the project please visit http://www.seattle.gov/parks/projects/cheasty/gs_bike_trail.htm  or this briefing paper. If you have questions, contact David Graves, Seattle Parks and Recreation at david.graves@seattle.gov or 206-684-7048.

 

Seattle Parks and Recreation opts for smoke-free parks

Acting Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Christopher Williams decided on Friday to ban smoking in all Seattle parks. Just yesterday evening, the Board of Park Commissioners voted 8-0 to recommend that the Superintendent enact a smoking ban.

The new rule would expand the existing smoking ban from within 25 feet of another park visitor to no smoking on any publically accessible park land. The smoking ban takes effect in 30 days.

The ban will be enforced by trained park staff who will issue verbal and written warnings. Park staff will have no authority to issue fines or exclude smokers from parks.

“Our mission as a park and recreation agency is to provide healthful and welcoming places for all residents to enjoy,” said Christopher Williams. “The smoking ban is about protecting the rights of everyone to have a smoke-free environment—particularly in parks, where communities gather to recreate, enjoy the outdoors or exercise.”

Seattle’s action follows similar bans in more than 1,000 other cities and jurisdictions nationwide, including Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Portland.

Enforcement of the new rule would primarily be a matter of education. The enforcement protocol for the new rule was developed in 2012 in conjunction with the Racial Disparity Project (then part of the Defender Association, now part of its advocacy successor organization in the Public Defender Association). This protocol does not include excluding people from a park because they are smoking.

Park Rangers would approach smokers to ask, “Did you know smoking is not allowed in parks?” and provide them with information on where they can smoke and a resource card with information about the policy and resources for help in quitting tobacco. The next level of enforcement would be a verbal warning. Seattle Parks expects a large percentage of smokers to voluntarily comply with these requests or verbal warnings.

The Park Board held a public hearing on the proposed ban on April 16 and a public comment period on the proposal ended on May 7. In response to comments at the hearing and to written comments expressing concerns that the ban would have a disproportionate impact on homeless people of color, Seattle Parks and Recreation agreed to mitigate the impact of the ban with the following provisions:

  1. No citation: The revised proposal eliminated the infraction citation (which has a $27 fee) that was originally proposed as part of the smoking ban enforcement strategy.
  2. Right to Dispute: Parks will create a process by which individuals can dispute a written trespass warning given for smoking in a park. This process will be included in a public information card to be handed out by either Police or Park Rangers when issuing a written trespass warning for smoking along with information on where people can smoke and information about smoking cessation programs.
  3. Enforcement Monitoring Committee: Parks will establish an Enforcement Monitoring Committee composed of 3-4 people, including a member of the Board of Park Commissioners, a representative from a human rights or civil rights organization, and a homeless advocate to review and monitor the impacts of the smoking ban. The committee will meet every 90 days so that any unintended consequences can be addressed quickly.

“We received many thoughtful comments from the Seattle/King County Coalition on Homelessness, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Seattle Human Rights Commission and others and we decided to alter our original proposal,” said Williams. “When many voices participate in conversations that shape public policy, the result is always better.”

The smoking ban is supported by several major partners of Seattle Parks and Recreation for health and environmental reasons.

“Tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death and disease both locally and in the United States, so it makes sense to take actions that promote health and healthy environments in our public spaces,” said Dr. Jeff Duchin, Interim Health Officer for Public Health – Seattle & King County.

“There’s no safe level of secondhand smoke,” said Matt DeGooyer, Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Washington. “We are very excited to see Seattle Parks and Recreation taking this step. Actions like this continue the steady progress toward de-normalizing smoking and tobacco use, making outdoor spaces a safer environment for impressionable youth and anyone who enjoys breathing clean, healthy air.”

In addition to being unhealthful for people, discarded cigarette butts are a major source of park litter.

“Cigarette butts are the most littered item in the world, with an estimated 5 trillion discarded each year,” said Brice Boland, Washington State Field Manager for the Surfrider Foundation. “Cigarette butts were the #1 item found on Washington beaches during the 2013 International Coastal Cleanup. Filters are made of cellulose acetate, a plastic, and can take countless years to biodegrade. Cigarette butt filters are toxic waste. When wet, they leach out toxins which are lethal to fish.”

The smoking ban will take effect in 30 days, after Seattle Parks and Recreation files the change to the Parks Code of Conduct with the City Clerk’s Office and posts a notice of the change in the Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce.

For more details about the smoking ban, please see this briefing paper.