Dahl Wading Pool season ends TODAY (Thursday)

Thanks to a meteorologically late start to summer this year, the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department extended the seasons of 11 of the city’s wading pools, including the one at nearby Dahl Field (7700 25th Avenue NE).

Today’s wading pool hours of 12-7PM will be you and your little one’s last chance to cool your toes in the wading pool this summer. And with a high in the low 80s forecast for this afternoon (peaking around 4PM), I highly recommend it.

That and a box of popsicles and you got a good time.

Seattle Community Center operations WILL change, but by how much?

Last night at the Bitter Lake Community Center, around 65 people gathered to hear about the potential fate of the city’s 25 community centers. One more of these meetings will be held tonight, from 7-8:30 PM, at the Jefferson Community Center (3801 Beacon Ave S).

Seattle Parks and Recreation has been asked by the City Council to trim $1.5-2.5 million from its community center budget for 2012. In January of this year a series of meetings began — with Parks’ staff, the public, and an advisory committee made up of both — to come up with ideas for both cuts and increased usage.

From those meetings, nine options for changing community center operations have emerged. Now Parks is seeking pubic comment on these options before final recommendations are brought to the City Council and the Mayor’s office in September. Final decisions will be made the week of Thanksgiving.

These nine options were outlined and discussed last night in a presentation by Parks staff, with a question and answer session following.

Of the nine options, three categories emerge: Options 1-3 make system-wide changes to community center operations, 5-6 deal with raising fees, and 7-9 explore partnerships with an eye towards individual centers’ needs and resources.

Option 4, however, is not really an option: Closing community centers. More on this below.

Carol Everson, of the Parks and Recreation Finance and Administrative Services Division, presented the nine options to those attending. Before she started, Everson urged us to think of the options as a “range of possibilities” available to make up the Parks’ budget gap, or even a “menu” from which multiple options could be chosen.

The survey about all nine options (and a space for comments) can be found online here, and is also available on paper at the community centers themselves. The deadline for the survey is July 1.

Carol Everson (standing) and Charlie Zaragoza (seated; Chair of the Associated Recreation Council Board) during the presentation of the Community Center Operations Options

The full descriptions (and cost savings) for all nine options can be found online here. Last night, they were outlined by Everson. What follows is a summary of the nine options, grouped by type, and including some additional information from last night’s presentation.

Reducing General Fund Usage

Options 1-3: Changing the way community centers are managed

Community Center Operating Options 1-3 are a progressive series of options all based on Option 1 (Geographic Management of Community Centers).

Option 1 “[O]rganizes community centers into seven geographic groups of three or four centers that are manage and programmed in a coordinated fashion.”

Option 2 adds on to Option 1 by classifying community centers within these groups into three tiers “based on criteria including physical facilities, current use, and demographics.” Tier 1 centers would average 50 hours of operating time a week, Tier 2a centers 30-45 hours, and Tier 2b centers 12-25 hours.

Tier 1, 2a or 2b: That is the question.

And Option 3 puts 2-3 of the Tier 2b centers on the chopping block. These sites might be run by other partnering organizations, or kept closed.

Option 4: Changing nothing

Called the “nuclear option” by Parks staff themselves, Option 4 would keep all operations at community centers exactly the same as they are today…with the exception of the 7-10 centers that would be closed outright.

With 25 community centers in the Parks system each costing approximately $400,000 a year to run, shutting down a bunch of them would instantly save the city millions of dollars. Closed centers would still be available for rentals or partnerships with outside groups. But the cost to local neighborhoods (and possibly to the Parks Department, the City Council, and the Mayor’s office) would be tremendous.

Both Parks staff at the meeting (and our own local community center coordinators at Ravenna-Eckstein CC and Meadowbrook CC; both present at last night’s meeting and with whom I spoke) agreed that either Option 1, 2 or 3 will be chosen: Community Centers in the future will be managed by geographic areas, not on a site-by-site basis. (How this will affect individual centers’ Advisory Councils will remain to be seen.)

Adjusting Fees

Option 5: Increase PAR Fee

Participation Fees (PAR fees) are monies that are retained from Associated Recreation Council (ARC) classes, sports fees, and childcare services by the City. Under Option 5, these fees would increase to 4% or 5% from their current level of 3.25%. Unfortunately, this would only bring in another $47,000-$126,000 a year.

Option 6: Resident Discount

With Option 6, Seattle residents would be offered about a 10% discount on community center programs and services, while fees would be raised for other users. This option would be piloted at the Amy Yee Tennis Center or at all swimming pools first, before extending into remaining facilities. Similarly to Option 5, Option 6 would bring in only an extra $126,000 per year.

Partnership Options

Option 7: Volunteers

Seattle Parks and Recreation already makes use of a good number of volunteers in its community centers, but Option 7 would have the amount increase. These volunteers would augment current staffing, freeing “professional staff for duties requiring their expertise.” But training new volunteers takes time, and the option is considered “[u]nlikely to be [a] major source of budget savings.”

Option 8: Reprogramming of Underused Spaces

Option 8 would take community center “dark hours” (when the center is not open or is underused) and “recruit outside organizations (partners) to provide programs or services” at those times. Utilization of centers would be increased through Joint Use Agreements with these outside organizations, but, yet again, Parks believes that this option is “[u]nlikely to be a major source of additional revenue.”

Option 9: Long-Term Lease of Entire Community Center

Another option that would close the budget gap quickly but has the potential to create public ill-will is Option 9: Allowing an outside organization to assume total responsibility for operating a community center that would otherwise be closed.

Current examples of long-term partnerships of this type include Green Lake’s Bathhouse Theater, the Pratt Fine Arts Center, the Mountaineers Club, the Seattle Aquarium and Arena Sports (Building 27 in Magnuson Park).

Each community center that is closed automatically saves $400,000, and rent payments by lessees would added to that savings as well. But there would be lag time between center closures and reopenings by lessees. Maintenance costs of these facilities would still fall to Parks, and reopening as a community center in the future would be difficult.

Meadowbrook Pool CLOSED for emergency repairs (Update: Open Friday morning)

UPDATE (Thursday, 4:47PM): Just received an email from Dewey Potter saying:

The repairs are complete on Meadowbrook Pool, 10515 35th Ave. NE, and it will reopen at 5:45 a.m. Friday, May 20 for Early Lap Swim. Regular programming will follow. For more information about the pool’s programs and schedule, please go to http://www.seattle.gov/parks/Aquatics/meadowbrookpool.htm.

Set your alarms, and don’t forget your towels.


Seattle Parks and Recreation Communications Manager, Dewey Potter, sent out the following via email on Wednesday afternoon:

Meadowbrook Pool, 10515 35th Ave. NE, is closed for emergency repairs of the pool wiring and circulation pump. Parks and Recreation expects the repair work to be finished by the end of the day Thursday, May 19 or sometime Friday, May 20.

I’ll update this post when I hear word that the pool has reopened.

Egg-citing morning at the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center

The Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center’s (6535 Ravenna Ave NE) annual egg hunt was held this morning. With the FANTASTIC weather predicted (and the 2011 Green Lake Spring Egg Hunt canceled due to budget cuts), very high turnout was expected.

Different age groups clustered up before the event, and then proceeded to line the track around the athletic field.

Then, at 10 AM SHARP, a whistle blew. And they were OFF!


I talked after the hunt with Terry Burns, coordinator at the Meadowbrook Community Center. She estimated that about 500 children and adults had attended the event.

Containers labeled like this one were ready after the hunt to receive unloaded plastic eggs and be reused for next year’s event.

I’d say that the field and the playground were picked clean in under two minutes, easy. Way to go, youngin’s!

A ‘State of the RECC’ from Coordinator Trevor Gregg

UPDATE (3:29pm): My Green Lake has some additional information about a few of the classes that will be either shifting from Green Lake Community Center to the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center or will be canceled altogether (from Seattle Parks and Recreation’s Acting Superintendent Christopher Williams):

  • Creative Dance at Green Lake will MOVE to Ravenna-Eckstein
  • Private music lessons and Hula at Green Lake will be CANCELED


So far *knocks on wood*, the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center (6535 Ravenna Avenue NE) has fared much better in the city’s budget than its two community center neighbors in Green Lake and Laurelhurst: No cuts seem to be in the works for our neighborhood’s facility. In fact, things just might be getting a LOT busier.

Trevor Gregg, Coordinator of the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center

I talked to Ravenna-Eckstein’s Coordinator, Trevor Gregg, on Friday about the budget and what changes may be coming to his center:

The final budget will be announced on November 22.  I know folks in the community are very anxious to know the final budget’s impacts, as are we.

In the meantime, Ravenna staff are making every attempt to help our neighboring community centers during this tough budget year: We are working Laurelhurst and Green Lake staff to find a home at Ravenna for those programs that may be displaced.

Classes from nearby community centers that Trevor says Ravenna-Eckstein could potentially absorb include:

  • From Green Lake Community Center: Qigong, Piano Lessons, Hawaiian Hula Dance and Tai Chi
  • From Laurelhurst Community Center: Body Conditioning, Saxophone Instruction, and Flute and Recorder Lessons

Keep your browser tuned to the Ravenna Blog for updates as more information about the final 2010 city budget becomes available.

Trevor and Larry thank you for your time

Your Busy Weekend for August 28-29

You could clean your garage this weekend, like you’ve been meaning to do for MONTHS. But here are some other options for your weekend that you might enjoy a little more than that:


  • Make an oven powered by the sun.
    • Solar Cooker class, University Heights Center, 5031 University Way NE; 10am-2pm; $10, register by calling 527-4278
  • Go to a winery open house in Roosevelt.
    • Eight Bells Winery open house, 6213B Roosevelt Way NE; 11am-5pm; please RVSP to rsvp [at] 8bellswindery.com
  • And/Or stay in Ravenna and taste wine.
  • Go play, eat, run, dance, paddle, bounce and more, all at the same place.


  • Go to story time, no matter how old you are.
    • Adult Storytime, Ravenna Third Place Books, 6504 20th Ave. NE; bring a short work from your favorite author or poet to read aloud


Anything else to add? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll edit the post!

Wacky Western Wednesday TOMORROW at the RECC

Fantastic (and Cheap) Family Fun at the Ravenna-Eckstein Community Center (6535 Ravenna Ave NE) continues with Wacky Western Wednesday!

From the Summer 2010 Seattle Parks and Recreation catalog (pdf):

Wacky Western Wednesday
Ages: 12 & under
Attention cowboys and cowgirls! Throw on your best western attire and cowboy duds and head on over to the community center! Eat some good ol’ fashioned cowboy chow, and come ready to party like cowboy, minus the campfire! Special guests include a mobile petting zoo (complete with a pot belly pig, goat, donkey, chicken, and bunnies) and pony rides on miniature and regular horses!
8/11 Wed Noon–2 p.m.
Activity Fee: $3

Did you see that?! Pot belly pig! Bunnies! And horses! And CHOW…all for three bucks.

We say: YEE HAW.