Seattle Parks and Recreation to further delay Park District planning in light of ongoing COVID-19 crisis response
The delay will allow for additional community awareness and an understanding of the changing needs of the community due to the pandemic and recovery efforts
In March 2020, Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) decided to delay the Park District planning process for at least a year. Given the continuing uncertainty associated with the trajectory of the pandemic and the associated economic impacts, SPR has determined that another one-year delay is required. SPR also seeks to better understand the changing needs of the community with a view to recovery.
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, SPR operations quickly shifted to focus on providing essential services, including community showers, daycares for those furthest from educational justice, improved cleaning of facilities and restrooms, an emphasis on keeping parks open while supporting public health and safety, free meal programs and virtual programs for the most isolated. A delay in initiating a long-term planning effort will support this continued focus on essential emergency services.
This shift in service delivery, along with new public health restrictions on the size of gatherings, halted the planning process and community outreach efforts that SPR launched in early 2020 for the next six-year cycle of the Seattle Park District, originally scheduled for 2021-2026. As these conditions still hold true today, SPR must further delay a large-scale community planning effort toward new park district priorities.
âThe Seattle Park District Board of Directors has taken the prudent step of meeting the unprecedented demands of 2020 by creating a transition year in our strategic planning. The provision of emergency services in response to the pandemic – both health and economic impacts – must continue to be the top priority for Seattle Parks and Recreation. Long-term planning is vital, but cannot be done effectively until we have more certainty about our health, safety and economic prospects and can integrate the valuable contribution of the public. – Councilor Debora Juarez, President of the Public Goods and Indigenous Communities Committee
âSeattle Parks and Recreation continues to provide vital and life-saving services to the community as part of our pandemic response and recovery, including providing free meal programs, child care and childcare services. hygiene. The suspension of Park District planning efforts will allow us to continue to focus on these essential services, in addition to prioritizing short-term actions, including broadening outreach to better understand our role in supporting the efforts of the Park District. equitable city-wide recovery, with a focus on serving BIPOC communities and others most affected by the health crisis. “- JesÃºs Aguirre, SPR Superintendent
In line with the department’s approach to the Park District 2021 budget, SPR plans to develop an annual budget for funding the Seattle Park District in 2022, alongside the city’s biennial budget process. SPR plans to present a resolution permitting this delay at the park district board meeting on June 21, 2021.
In the meantime, SPR plans to review its 2020-2032 strategic plan to identify short-term actions SPR can take to support the pandemic and economic recovery and deepen our commitment to equitable service delivery. This will involve carrying out additional targeted awareness-raising actions, particularly in the communities that have been most affected by the health emergency. This short-term action plan will likely inform the department’s future funding needs and prioritize actions that serve BIPOC communities and alleviate historical injustices. Planning for a six-year 2023-2028 cycle is expected to begin in early 2022.
As we move forward, SPR will provide additional information on next steps. Please visit https://www.seattle.gov/seattle-park-district/park-district-planning to stay up to date.