Seattle Parks and Recreation planning improvements for Seattle’s oldest park

Community invited to learn more about Denny Park improvement project

Seattle Parks and Recreation invites the community to learn about improvements scheduled for Denny Park at a public meeting on Tuesday, February 2, 2016 in the Ken Bounds Board Room, 100 Dexter Ave N. from 7 – 8:30 p.m. Seattle Parks and Recreation has efficiently coordinated improvement projects which include pavement, drainage and irrigation replacement.

The design consultant, WR Consulting Inc., and the Seattle Parks and Recreation project manager will present a summary and schedule for the upcoming projects. Construction is anticipated to begin by mid-2016 with completion by early 2017.

The combined project includes replacement of the park’s pathways and paved areas, replacement of storm drainage, sanitary sewer and irrigation systems, plus potential modifications to the central plaza area. Modifications to the plaza will improve pedestrian circulation, enhance accessibility for all and provide a more functional community gathering space. Other proposed improvements include a new central raingarden feature, new benches and planting bed modifications.

Denny Park is located at 100 Dexter Ave N. David Denny, Seattle pioneer donated the land to the City as a cemetery.  In 1883 the Denny family drew up a deed rededicating the cemetery property to become a public park.

Funding for the project is provided by the 2008 Parks and Green Spaces Levy and 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. 2016 is the first full year of implementation and will include funding to tackle the $267-million major maintenance backlog; and will fund the improvement and rehabilitation of community centers; preservation of urban forests; major maintenance at the Aquarium and Zoo; day-to-day maintenance of parks and facilities; more recreation opportunities for people from underserved communities, programs for young people, people with disabilities, and older adults; development of new parks; and acquisition of new park land.

For more information on this project please visit or contact Chris Mueller at 206-684-0988 or








Superintendent’s Message: The Mayor’s 2016 Proposed Budget

Earlier this week, Mayor Murray presented his 2016 Proposed Budget to City Council.  I’d like to provide you with an overview of what is included for Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR). Overall, the news is very positive for the department and for parks and recreation services and programs throughout the city.

Seattle Park District              

Most of the changes affecting our budget are related to last year’s passage of Proposition 1 and the creation of the Seattle Park District. The Seattle Park District provides a new taxing district and revenue source to fund increased parks and recreation services and capital projects. The voter-approved creation of permanent funding that supports parks and recreation services is the single biggest change that has occurred for the department in the past 100 years. 

2016 marks the first full year of funding for Park District initiatives at more than $47 million annually for combined operating and capital initiatives. Program and project highlights include:

Programs for People: The District continues the increased funding to support additional staffing and services at our community centers, in our teen programs, lifelong recreation programs and special populations programs that began in 2015. There is also funding to support partnering with the community as we implement three new initiatives – Recreation Opportunities for All, the Get Moving Fund and the Arts in the Parks initiative. Resources are also added to update the CLASS registration system.

Fix it First:  Next year, there is approximately $25 million to fund capital investments to reduce our major maintenance backlog, and further invest in restoring our urban forests. In addition there are one-time funds to continue implementing a new Asset Management and Work Order system to better track our assets and plan our work.

Maintaining Parks and Facilities: Funding to support increased park maintenance and preventative maintenance that began mid-2015 is fully funded starting in 2016. There will also be resources to improve existing off leash areas and p-patches through increased maintenance and updates to aging infrastructure.  Furthermore, 2016 sees an increase in animal control services in “hot spot” parks to enforce leash and scoop laws.

Building for the Future:  In 2016, planning and development begins for five of the 14 sites acquired and “land-banked” with 2008 Levy funds and to begin development of Smith Cove Park.  There will also be funds to activate and connect greenways with our parks, to leverage future acquisitions, and for community groups to leverage their resources aimed at significantly renovating SPR facilities.

Performance Management Initiative: Another significant effort funded in part by the Park District is the development of a performance-based framework to allow Seattle Parks and Recreation to review our progress in delivering services in the most effective and cost efficient way.


Non-District Related Changes

While most of the changes affecting the 2016 Proposed Budget are related to the Park District, I would like to highlight a few of the non-District related changes.

Moorages: The department owns two moorages on Lake Washington. The current operator’s contract has come to an end, and we will be taking over operations until we find a long-term agreement with a partner to operate the moorages. The 2016 budget includes temporary funding to operate the moorages and perform needed upkeep and basic repairs.

New Mayor’s Office of Planning and Community Development (OPCD): OPCD is a brand new office that will support the Mayor’s vision of building thriving communities with a mix of amenities, open space, transportation, utilities, affordable housing, and economic opportunity. As such, this new office will work across City departments, including Seattle Parks and Recreation, to assess community needs, prioritize resources, develop a vision for how our neighborhoods grow and develop, and ensure that we are coordinating and implementing our plans with a cohesive vision.

Operational Efficiencies: The 2016 budget reflects an organizational change implemented mid-2015 with the community centers being reorganized into four geo-teams rather than five.  In addition, Aquatics is reallocating resources to open two swimming beaches a month early and provide safe recreational opportunities for Seattleites looking to enjoy the trend of warmer spring temperatures. With this change, East Green Lake Beach and Madrona Beach will have limited lifeguarding beginning Memorial Day weekend in 2016.

Capital Improvement Plan: SPR’s 2016 CIP maintains a strong commitment to asset preservation. In addition to the projects funded by the Seattle Park District, the projects proposed for REET (Real Estate Excise Tax) are prioritized consistent with SPR’s asset management criteria. Ongoing major maintenance projects, such as environmental remediation, landscape and forest restoration, irrigation system repair, pavement restoration, and replacing major roof and HVAC systems address basic infrastructure needs across the system. The 2016 CIP also provides REET for capital maintenance at Bell Harbor Marina ($1 million), algae reduction treatment at Green Lake ($1.2 million), and moorage improvements ($2 million).

Overall, the 2016 Proposed Budget is a good news for Seattle residents and neighborhoods with the Park District in full swing along with additional investments to help us meet new technology mandates and to expand our operational capacity. The investments outlined in the Mayor’s Proposed Budget will allow Seattle Parks and Recreation to continue to provide exceptional services to our growing community.

If you’re interested in commenting on the Mayor’s Proposed Budget, you can attend one of the two City Council budget hearings scheduled for the following dates:

  • October 6, 2015 @ 5:30 p.m., Seattle City Hall in Council Chamber; and
  • October 20, 2015 @ 5:30 p.m., Seattle City Hall in Council Chambers.

For more information, see:

Thank you for your interest in and support of our precious park and recreation system.

Jesús Aguirre


Seattle Parks expands programs for special populations with 2015 Park District funding

Though 2015 is considered a ramp-up year for the Park District, (2016 being the first year that the District collects property taxes) Seattle Parks and Recreation has already implemented two new exciting community programs.

Using ramp-year funding, Seattle Parks was able to hire a half-time Recreation Specialist to officially launch its dementia-friendly programming citywide. Cayce Cheairs started with Seattle Parks in January and has since led excursions and classes for seniors all over the city.

Seattle Parks launched dementia-friendly programming in 2015 with the support of Park District funds.

“I am excited that our city is undergoing a transformation to become a dementia-friendly and inclusive community and I’m thrilled that our city government is onboard.” Cheairs said. “Our Parks and Recreation department is unique in the nation with the launch of dementia-friendly recreation, and we already are serving as a model to other cities. I’m excited to have the opportunity to work with and collaborate with inspiring and fearless community members and mutually-supportive and creative community organizations. I’m especially excited for opportunities to connect with and learn from our community members living with memory loss.”

So far this year, dementia-friendly recreation participants have had the opportunity to participate in Arts in the Park watercolor painting at Golden Gardens, guided fitness walks and an annual talent show among other things. Cheairs said her goal for the remainder of the year is to connect with Seattle senior centers, develop partnerships and spread the word about these programs in Seattle’s communities.

“In order to best serve ‘all citizens’ as our Parks and Recreation mission proposes, we are adjusting and expanding our programs so that all community members indeed have ‘safe and welcoming opportunities to play, learn, contemplate, and build community,’ including members living with memory loss,” Cheairs said. “This, we believe, enriches the whole community.”

Specialized Programs added an extra week of summer camp using 2015 Park District ramp-up funds.

In addition to dementia-friendly recreation, Seattle Parks and Recreation is able to add an additional week of youth overnight summer camp this year for its Specialized Programs unit, which serves youth with disabilities. The extra week of camp will allow the department to serve 60 more campers.

In 2013, one of the most popular comments on a departmental community survey was a request for more camp opportunities. Parents told Specialized Programs leaders that they are grateful to have more opportunities for their children.

“Camp is a magical place for the campers because it allows them to have the same summer experience as their peers,” Recreation Leader Kyle Bywater said. “It is a place where parents feel safe to send their children because staff are fully trained. Campers get to make new friends, sing songs, play games, do crafts and enjoy entertainment every day. Camp is also special for parents as it gives them some respite. Some parents have never left their children with anyone overnight, so it gives them nights to relax as well.”

For more information on the Park District, please visit

Seattle Parks and Recreation begins Park District implementation

Green Lake Park


On Aug. 5, 2014, voters in the City of Seattle approved Proposition 1, which created the Seattle Park District. Property taxes collected by the Seattle Park District will provide funding for City parks and recreation including maintaining parklands and facilities, operating community centers and recreation programs, and developing new neighborhood parks on previously acquired sites.

The Park District will be governed by the Seattle City Council acting ex officio as the District Board. As established in an interlocal agreement between the City and the District, Seattle Parks and Recreation will provide services on behalf of the Park District.

The District Board will appoint a Community Oversight Committee to provide advice on spending and activities. The committee will have 15 members: four Park Board members, a member from each Council district, and four additional members to be considered for appointment based on recommendations from City commissions including the Immigrant and Refugee Commission, the Commission for People with Disabilities, the Human Rights Commission, the Seattle Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Commission and the Women’s Commission. All appointments will be confirmed by the City Council and the Mayor will appoint the Chair of the Oversight Committee.

All members will be confirmed before full the full City Council on Monday, April 13.

What’s next

2015 is a ramp-up year for the Park District, with 2016 being the first year that the District collects property tax. The 2015 ramp-up year services will be funded by a $10 million loan from the City to the District which will be paid back from District revenue over eight years, beginning in 2016. As established in the District’s 2015 budget, adopted by the Park District Board, part of the ramp-up year funding is allocated for behind-the-scenes work which will ensure smart use of full funding in subsequent years. Other funds will be used to increase programming, maintenance and public service.

In 2015, Seattle Parks and Recreation will use Park District funds to:

  • Provide cleaner, better maintained parks and facilities;
  • Provide more staff at community centers;
  • Increase programming and activation at downtown parks;
  • Increase support for the Green Seattle Partnership, which will improve the health of the urban forest;
  • Begin dementia-friendly programming for seniors;
  • Expand programming for people with disabilities;
  • Create a strategic plan for off-leash areas, which will guide future off-leash area improvements;
  • Begin offering scholarships later in the year for recreation programs;
  • Purchase and implement an asset management and work order system which will improve Parks tracking and forecasting major maintenance needs; and
  • Begin planning and design work for major maintenance and renovation projects to be constructed in 2016.

The official page for the Park District is managed by City Clerk’s Office. Seattle Parks and Recreation will provide updates on the implementation of the Park District throughout 2015 on the department’s website and blog.

The Seattle Park District Board’s next meeting will be held at 2:30 p.m. (or immediately following the regularly scheduled meeting of the Seattle City Council, whichever is later) on Monday, March 30.


Join Seattle Parks for Geographic Information Systems Day, Nov 19!

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Day provides an international forum for users of geographic information systems technology to demonstrate real-world applications that are making a difference in our society.

Join Seattle Parks and Recration from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 19, to learn how the department is using GIS to better understand the community’s needs.

The event will be held at our Westbridge facility in West Seattle (4209 W Marginal Way SW).

Download the agenda.