Seattle Parks & Rec is beginning a new study this Spring 2023 for siting new dog offleash areas (OLAs) throughout Seattle parks. Park District funding is currently available for creating two new OLAs with a possible third in the mix. SPR developed the People, Dogs, and Parks Strategic Plan in 2017 that spelled out goals and criteria for future expansions of the system. Dog owners like to use the quote that there are more dogs (and cats) in Seattle than children for justifying expanding the OLAs. While there is definitely a need and benefit to creating more offleash areas, it should not come at the expense of precious playfield space, whether formal or informal. Sandel Park in Greenwood comes to mind right off (full list below). This is a small, generally unscheduled playfield space where my children played tee ball and little punk soccer when they were younger. I’ve also seen adult volleyball using this entire space during the summer for Architects/Engineers Volleyball League play. I’m sure there are countless other play activities conducted at this fairly rare playfield for this northern end of Seattle. We should not be taking these kinds of spaces away from youth and adults where we can engage in some fun and healthy, physical activity. Field users should pay attention to this OLA endeavor and be ready to provide feedback when SPR solicits public comments.
The Buildings, Technology, and Academics/Athletics Capital Levy (BTA V) is up for renewal this year to support Seattle Public Schools, which still does not receive enough funding from the WA State Legislature to fulfill its multiple missions. Seattle voters should have their ballots now that need to be turned in by 8pm on February 8, 2022.
The BTA V Levy (Proposition 2) renewal maintains the investment in capital projects for school facilities and technology so every SPS student has access to a safe, welcoming learning environment.
Proposition 1 is the Educational Programs & Operations Levy that continues critical funding to help educate all of our students and bridge the gap between the funding the district receives from the state and what is needed to fully support students.
More info here: https://www.seattleschools.org/about/levy/2022-capital-levy/
Specific to playfields, BTA V includes the following projects in this funding package:
|SPS Facility||Project Type/Description|
|Maple ES||New grass playfield, asphalt exercise path, amphitheater, and learning garden|
|Ballard HS||Apply acrylic coating on tennis courts|
|Denny/Sealth HS||Replace existing synthetic turf carpet at upper softball field and existing field lighting|
|Ingraham HS||Replace existing synthetic turf carpets at the auxiliary field & stadium, tennis court paving, seating & fencing|
|Lincoln HS||Develop new athletic field with synthetic turf & track (site TBD; separate acqusition funding)|
|Memorial Stadium||Replace existing synthetic turf carpet|
|Miller, Hiawatha & Jefferson Playfields||Cost share for replacement of synthetic turf carpets at Miller, Hiawatha & Jefferson Playfields (significant school use facilities)|
|Rainier Beach HS||Replace existing synthetic turf carpet & bleachers, track re-surfacing, relocate and conversion of practice field to synthetic turf & new field lighting, and conversion of baseball & softball outfields to synthetic turf; upgrade existing field lighting to LED|
|West Seattle HS||Install new batting cage at Hiawatha Playfield|
|Bleachers||Replace and repair existing gym bleachers|
|Athletic equipment||Replace athletic equipment; gym room dividers|
The November General Election resulted in several new decision makers in Seattle government, both in the Mayor’s office and with City Council. Congratulation to:
Mayor Bruce Harrell – We look forward to working with you on improving our public spaces especially playfields while taking care of the needs of those with life challenges. We heard your support for parks and recreation loud and clear during the campaign.
Councilmember Sara Nelson (District 9 – City-wide) – Welcome back to City Hall CM Nelson. FAF is a firm believer that every Seattle citizen should have equal access to decent active recreation facilities preferably near their neighborhood. You have pledged to look out for the entire city.
City Council President Debora Juarez – Thank you CM Juarez for your many years chairing the Pubic Assets and Native Communities Committee. We welcome your leadership as President of City Council.
Seattle City Council has adjusted its committees and memberships with parks and playfields now being overseen in the new Public Assets & Homelessness Committee chaired by CM Andrew Lewis (District 7). Members include: Vice Chair Teresa Mosqueda (Citywide District 8), Lisa Herbold (District 1), Tammy Morales (District 2), and Debora Juarez (District 5). FAF looks forward to hopefully meeting all of you soon to discuss active recreation’s needs throughout Seattle.
Mayoral Candidate Bruce Harrell’s statement showing strong support for playfields:
Seattle’s parks and playfields shaped my life. Mentored and inspired by my coaches and teammates playing little league baseball, I went on to play football at Garfield and later at the UW. As a parent, mentor, and coach myself, I’ve spent countless hours at our city’s sports fields. I truly understand the importance of our city providing more athletic fields to support our children and adults.
When elected, you can count on me to closely examine how we plan for more fields, improve and better maintain the fields we have now, and ensure that we efficiently schedule our fields so that they can serve the needs of all the people who enjoy active recreation in our city. I’ll bring strong relationships to improve coordination with the Seattle School District under the Joint Use Agreement, so more athletic fields are able to be used by more field users across our city.
Central to my plans to rethink and increase parks district funding are investments in neighborhoods traditionally underserved– by parks and open space, and opportunities for active recreation. We must improve and expand options for healthy outdoor activity for a growing city.
Seattle residents of all ages, regardless of zip code or economic status, deserve neighborhood sports fields that are safe, able to be used year round, and lighted where appropriate. Active recreation is good for our physical and mental health– and can inspire young people to achieve their dreams. As Mayor, you can count on me to ensure the Parks Department and my administration make active recreation and widespread access to athletic fields a top priority.
We know that homelessness is a very complicated issue that has divided Seattle citizens with many longing to see compassionate solutions implemented and less advantaged peoples’ lives improved. Unfortunately, it is apparent that our government has made little or very limited progress in solving the homelessness issue over the past 6 years of the “emergency”. When it comes to playfields, we simply want to have safe access to the places that are designed, constructed, and maintained for where youth and adults can engage in active recreation. Active recreation is a vital need for many Seattle citizens and is essential to a vibrant city like Seattle, especially as it strives to live up to its world class aspirations. We don’t want to have to be concerned with exposure to hypodermic needles, human waste, and other encampment trash. We don’t want our kids, coaches, or us to be at risk of dangerous confrontations with individuals in a drug- or alcohol-induced delirium or people having mental health problems. We do want our government to tackle the many problems head on; provide better mental health and addiction services; provide more affordable housing. But we want safe places to play and have fun; engage in positive, healthy activities; learn teamwork; and make friends. Only certain candidates are prioritizing that in their platforms.
This is an important election year for Seattle with competitive races for Mayor and the two city-side City Council seats. We all know the extreme challenges we’ve had for the past almost two years with the Covid pandemic lumped on top of major homelessness, racial equity, and policing issues. When it comes to public spaces, we’ve seen homeless encampments take over many parks, green spaces, and playfields with little or no recourse from the City. The candidates offer stark differences when it comes to restoring safe public access to our public spaces. Candidates Bruce Harrell (Mayor), Sara Nelson (Council District 9), and Kenneth Wilson (Council District 8) have all stated that if elected they will immediately work to return public spaces, such as playfields and neighborhood parks, to public use and their intended purposes. Candidates Lorena Gonzalez (Mayor), Nikkita Oliver (Council District 9), and Teresa Mosqueda (Council District 8) have all stated that their priorities will focus on providing for the homeless that have taken over many of our public spaces and that Seattle citizens will have to sacrifice full public access until the homeless are adequately housed. If you’re voting for playfields, the choices are obvious.
Check campaign websites for more info:
Interested in the candidates views? So are we. More to follow…