The proposal focuses on essential maintenance while taking important steps to improve safety, fight climate change, support youth and promote justice
The plan would rebuild the Park Ranger program, plant and tend thousands of trees, keep public restrooms working, and open new and improved parks and community centers
Seattle – Mayor Bruce Harrell today announced his proposed budget for the Seattle Park District, which reflects his deep commitment to a world-class park system based on equity, access and safe spaces for all Seattle residents. After months of community and stakeholder engagement, this plan will invest approximately $115 million per year to ensure Seattle’s nearly 500 parks, playgrounds and community centers remain welcoming spaces for recreation, learning and healthy communities. Mayor Harrell’s budget prioritizes key maintenance needs while making important investments in safety, climate protection, youth opportunity and equity.
“As the pandemic shattered lives, jobs and relationships, for so many of us parks became places to escape, recharge and enjoy one another’s company, reminding us why these special places are important for healthy communities and… strong neighborhoods are essential.” said Mayor Harrell. “We were also reminded that without proper care and attention, our parks can deteriorate. This proposed Parks District budget focuses on the restoration, renovation and maintenance of our parks and community centers—and the significant investments required to ensure these public spaces remain an exceptional reflection of our city now and for years to come.”
The budget is based on input from park stakeholders, employees, the Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners, and community members. If approved by the Seattle City Council, whose members serve as the Park District Board of Directors, the proposal would continue $58 million in necessary services currently funded by Park District Cycle 1 and make additional investments to support the current one to meet needs and drive bold action on key priorities. Highlights include:
- Opening of 12 new parks with a total area of more than 10 hectares.
- Major renovations to community centers in Lake City, Green Lake/Evans Pool and Loyal Heights.
- Provision of all 129 public toilets for year-round use by the end of 2028.
- Reintroduced a robust park ranger program by adding 26 park rangers (28 total) to improve safety and encourage voluntary compliance with park rules.
- Addition of a new staff team of 5 to quickly respond to graffiti and vandalism.
- Planted and established an additional 600 trees to increase city canopy and mitigate heat islands, and restore funds to the Green Seattle Partnership.
- Decarbonizing an additional 6 community centers and other SPR facilities contributing to this A Seattle Resilience Hub strategy to combat the growing impacts of climate change.
- Doubling Community Engagement Ambassador hours from 3,000 to 6,000 hours in up to 15 languages.
- Doubled the size of the new Equity Grant Fund to support community-driven park improvement projects in underserved neighborhoods.
- Funding 20,000 hours of youth employment opportunities per year for 80 youth.
READ: Data Sheet: Park District Budget Proposal from Mayor Harrell
“We recognize that the impact of parks on our communities and our lives goes far beyond sports fields and playgrounds – they are justice drivers and safe havens, outdoor study halls and strongholds in the fight against climate change,” said Mayor Harrell. “Throughout my life, whether as a student, coach or father, Seattle’s parks have been essential to foster growth and community. Access to parks, open spaces, community centers and recreational opportunities is critical to healthy, thriving communities – this budget reflects our commitment to protecting and enhancing these spaces.”
Seattle voters approved the creation of the Park District in August 2014. The first six-year funding cycle ran from 2015 to 2020, and planning for Cycle 2 was delayed in 2020 due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the city council, as the Park District Board, passed the annual budgets for 2021 and 2022.
The current proposal for Cycle 2 extends from 2023 to 2028 and represents 34% of SPR’s total budget. To fund these services and improvements, the mid-value Seattle homeowner would pay $331 annually, allowing SPR to provide high-quality services to each resident provide facilities, parks and programs and complete work that has been stalled by the pandemic.
“This proposal will bring us back to basics to fund the essential projects that ensure our parks and community centers are well maintained, safe and clean for use by all residents.” said Mayor Harrell. “It also allows us to embrace ours A Seattle Vision, forward-thinking advances, and building a more sustainable, equitable future by investing in climate resilience and services in neighborhoods that have historically been underfunded.”
WHAT PEOPLE SAY
Christopher Williams, Acting Superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation
“We are truly grateful to the Seattle taxpayers for their continued support of our valuable park system and beloved recreational facilities. The park district has allowed us to make maintenance and community access a priority. As we move into our second cycle, our goal is to continue to expand access to communities in need, reliably maintain parks and facilities, and improve the resilience of our buildings and natural spaces.”
Marlon Herrera, CEO of Seattle Parks and Recreation
“As our parks and recreational uses increase during the pandemic, we owe it to our neighbors to meet their needs and expectations through the voter-approved Park District. I look forward to working with the Superintendent, Mayor and City Council to implement the next round of investments. I am confident that to this day the dedicated officers at Seattle Parks and Recreation will stand up.”