What You Need To Know About Last Week’s Green Lake Community Center and Evans Pool Meeting
Have you heard about the potential changes to the Green Lake Community Center and Evans Pool? (Boy have we written a lot about it!)
If this is your first time hearing about it, here’s the short story: the Community Center is the oldest in the Seattle Parks Department and the Department says it needs to be totally re-done. They say the price tag is $25 million. The Parks Department is proposing to tear down both the pool and the Center and go into a public/private partnership to help pay for it and the ongoing operations of the building. Neighbors and residents are asking why – specifically why was this not included in the Parks District, which was a voter approved measure that raised taxes to pay for the parks. A few million dollars were set aside by the Parks District for renovations to the aging structures, but it is unclear where that money is now going.
So, back to the latest about the future of the Community Center and Evans Pool…
A new group called Save Evans Pool and Green Lake Community Center invited the Superintendent of Parks, Jesus Aguirre, to speak to the community as part of the Green Lake Community Council meeting last week. The meeting, which normally attracts about 10 residents had nearly 100. This was the first formal meeting with Aguirre and considered the first public comment period with more anticipated in the future.
Here’s the four things I learned from the meeting:
The public/private partnership is not a sure thing.
The price tag of the estimated $25 million to create a new Green Lake Community Center and Evans Pool are outside of the Parks Department’s budget. The public/private partnership was one proposal to help with that shortfall. During the meeting Aguirre said the money could come from fundraising or bonds as well.
And more public comment and research is needed in order to move forward with any direction.
During the meeting Aguirre mentioned that Seattle Parks is involved in multiple public/private partnerships, such as:
- Woodland Park Zoo
- Seattle Aquarium
- Tennis Center at Sand Point
- Pratt Fine Arts
- Rainier Beach Urban Farm and Wetlands
- Arena Sports
- Center for Wooden Boats
- Seward Park Audubon Center
- Green Lake Pitch and Putt
- Spectrum Dance Theater
Documentation to prove that Green Lake Community Center needs to be torn down has people confused/angry.
Many residents, the local group Save Evans Pool and Green Lake Community Center and the Green Lake Advisory Council have asked the Parks District for the engineering documentation that says that both facilities are “at the end of their useful life.” While the Parks Department has provided a draft report from 2015, little to no documentation from a engineering firm has been presented to the public. The Parks Department claims they do not have a final version of that report.
The Green Lake Advisory Council has asked that a new study be made to determine the real costs of a new Green Lake Community Center and Evans Pool.
A new swimming pool and Community center is going to take a long, long time to build.
During the meeting Aguirre mentioned that even if the Parks Department had the funds to build this right now it would take 3 years to build.
What happened to the money that was set aside from the Parks District originally allocated for Green Lake?
Several renovations that were supposed to be funded, including the boilers for the pool and a leaky roof over the gym have remained unfunded. When asked at the meeting Aguirre couldn’t provide an answer for this but said a plan needed to be made.
Residents at the meeting were visibly frustrated that the pool has had to close several times already this year and buckets clutter the floors of the gym on rainy days.
So what is the next step for the community to get involved?
According to Rachel Schulkin, Parks and Recreation Communications Manager:
“Community involvement regarding a department-wide planning process will begin later this year. The programmatic assessment will look at the needs city-wide in all areas of parks and recreation. The programmatic assessment will lead to a facilities plan. We are collecting contact information from all who have expressed interest in Green Lake CC and Evans Pool and will let them know when we initiate public outreach for the programmatic plan. There is nothing specific to the Green Lake facilities underway now, nor will there be for the remainder of 2017.”
There are several groups that are actively involved in finding the answers to these questions. Here’s a few ways to get involved:
This issue is just starting, so make sure your voice is heard!