Welcome Friends and Supporters of Athletic Fields
Friends of Athletic Fields (FAF) as a non-profit, volunteer organization is busy keeping up with the many activities and meetings associated with active recreational facilities around the Puget Sound region and state-wide. Here are some of the issues that have been our recent focus:
Seattle Citizens Vote YES for Prop 1 = Seattle Park District & extra funding for parks!
Thank you Seattleites for approving the new Seattle Park District (53% to 47%). Field users stepped up big time and were an important factor in getting the measure passed - and Mayor Murray made a point of recognizing our efforts at the election night gathering - thanks for your support.
The Seattle Park District will provide a stable, long-term funding source for the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR). Next year will be a transition year with limited improvements planned until the park district tax can start being collected in 2016 (as per the regulation) and DPR can plan for the extra funding and address the requirements associated with the new ordinance. In the interim we should be paying attention to the planned audit of operations that DPR has committed to for 2015 and the performance measurement activities that are currently in the review process with the Parks Board. Government bodies always have room for improved efficiency and delivery of services do they not - let's help Seattle Parks be successful.
As per the proposed/approved Seattle Park District funding plan, athletic field upgrades and many other projects and programs are planned (see Seattle Parks for All) including these projects most important to us:
Go to Current Issues to learn more about what the park district entails and for more details on the ballot measure.
Seattle Dept of Parks & Recreation Performance Measurement Plan
DPR staff have been working on a performance measurement plan with presentations to the Parks Board over the past few months. This is good to see given the call during the park district campaign for more accountability and wise spending by DPR - and everyone can agree that government can always be more efficient. There is also talk of an audit to be conducted of current DPR operations, management, etc.. DPR will continue its work improving the plan and working towards full public involvement in the process in the future. This issue is worth paying attention to for assurance that we all have a say in expectations for DPR's mission and work - stay tuned and/or keep an eye on the Parks Board webpage for further developments.
Seattle Budget Process heats up in September
On September 22 the Mayor will present his proposed budget and then City Council will start it's deliberation process with a final budget agreed upon in November. Community meetings are scheduled for October 7th and 23rd. CM Licata is the budget committee chair this year. Always worth paying attention to this so we don't get surprised by new field fees or other changes. More information here: http://www.seattle.gov/council/budget/
Seattle Public Schools Sportsfield Projects
Wilson Pacific: long story... As part of BEX4 (2013), SPS plans to co-locate a middle school and an elementary school at this north Seattle site that has led to a fair amount of controversy with the neighborhood. Proposals eliminate the existing fields with construction of the new elementary school building on that portion of the site and include one smaller field to be shared by both schools. On June 26th, the Wilson Pacific Development Standards Departure (Citizen) Advisory Committee voted to approve proposed departures, or zoning/code variances, which preserved the largest shared field space by allowing taller buildings, less parking and smaller street bus loading areas than zoning/design criteria. Having a sportsfield shared between two schools was bad enough; the even smaller field spaces proposed would have been more disastrous. Then there is the issue of a new Lincoln High School getting preferred use of this new field space.
The latest reported development is that the existing school has been granted conditional historical landmark status. That could throw a wrench into any development plans but it is to be seen exactly what the conditions are. We are aware that there are treasure murals at the old Indian Heritage School but we understood that SPS had already agreed to preserve those as part of the new development. Stay tuned.
Thornton Creek ES: Similar to Wilson Pacific, SPS plans to build a new school on the existing playfield at Decatur (Thornton Creek) Elementary School in northeast Seattle while preserving the old school building and sharing a smaller playfield between the two facilities. In July, the Thornton Creek Departures Advisory Committee voted to approve the proposed departures allowing taller buildings, less parking and smaller street bus loading areas that otherwise would have encroached on the field space and resulted in even greater negative impact on active recreation and open space at this site. All we can say is, it could have been worse.
Cleveland HS: SPS included funding in BEX-IV for improvements at Cleveland Playfield that is adjacent to the existing high school in southeast Seattle. No definitive plans have come out of the SPS yet but we're trying to track it - stay tuned.
Other SPS athletic field projects included in BEX IV: Eckstein Middle School (synthetic turf replacement), Ballard High School (track only), Cleveland High School (undefined), View Ridge Elementary (field only), Thornton Creek Elementary@Decatur (new school to be built and the athletic field reconfigured).
BTA III (2010): Van Asselt ES (closed but used by Cleveland HS; synthetic turf replacement in 2017), Denny MS/Sealth HS (synthetic turf replacement in 2013), Franklin HS (synthetic turf replacement in 2015/16), Ingraham HS (synthetic turf replacement in 2012/13), Memorial Stadium (synthetic turf replacement in 2016), Rainier Beach HS (synthetic turf replacement in 2011), Roosevelt HS (synthetic turf replacement in 2016), Salmon Bay K-8 (synthetic turf replacement in 2015), and Whitman MS (synthetic turf replacement in 2015/17).
Magnuson Park - Future Fields
With passage of the Seattle Park District, there will be potential funding through various partnership programs to pursue more of the athletic fields previously approved by City Council in 2004. FAF and field user groups plan to be engaged with the Magnuson Park Advisory Committee (MPAC) to promote new projects with support from all user groups. Let us know if you're willing to help promote more sportsfields at Magnuson.
The Final Magnuson Strategic Development Plan document was posted on the Warren G. Magnuson Park webpage in 2012 (despite what it might say about second draft status). Field users can take comfort that "building more athletic fields" is one of the top priorities for the "Land" category. The next challenge is to get funding for these fields that were approved in the 2004 Magnuson Master Plan. FAF has taken every opportunity to promote the need to build these approved fields with DPR, the Mayor, and City Council. Our focus is to NOT build the parking lot on top of the Sand Point grass fields (as shown on the Master Plan) and to build multi-use fields that can be used by multiple sports throughout the year.
Background: Several sports leagues and FAF attended the kickoff workshop and several public meetings on the SDP in 2012. Field users really stepped up by submitting 70% of the email comments, which showed tremendous public support for building more of the athletic fields. See the Magnuson SDP and other info here: http://www.seattle.gov/parks/Magnuson/.
Seattle Parks & Rec Field (Schedule) Viewer
One item that has been promoted with DPR is the ability of field users to be able to view online what fields are already scheduled and availability. DPR has developed a Field Viewer online interface that provides just that. You can only see availability in this version and cannot reserve fields (yet) but it shows good promise and progress. Most if not all athletic fields in the inventory can now be viewed. Take a test drive and let us know what you think. [https://class.seattle.gov/parks/Facilities/FacilitiesSearchWizard.asp]
Field Construction Project Updates:
We are active in many community and municipal organizations including Seattle Parks' Sportsfield Review Committee (SRC), Seattle Sports Advisory Council (SSAC), and the Parks Levy Oversight Committee. We do all this while endeavoring to keep up with our own sports activities both as players and coaches. Please take whatever time you can to join us in helping the active recreation community improve the quality and quantity of the athletic fields available to both youth and adults. Feel free to contact us via email if you have any questions or want to become more involved.
Check out the Current Issues page for the latest news.
(last updated September 13, 2014)