Seattle Parks Face $250 Million Maintenance Backlog

Nov 7, 2013

Ross Reynolds investigates how the city's approximate $250 million repair and upgrade backlog looks like on the ground at Seattle's most popular park — Green Lake in North Seattle.

When Reynolds asked Green Lake's patrons about their impressions of the area, the reply was that they thought the park was in good shape. But when he went on a tour of the park with acting superintendent of  Parks and Recreation Christopher Williams, and parks officials Michael Shiosaki, Dan Johnson and Cathleen Conner, he got an entirely different picture.

Violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act are everywhere at the Green Lake Community Center. You can't get to the lobby from the gym without going outside. Windows in the gym are cracked and discolored. The furnace is nearly a century old.

But perhaps the most flagrant (and fragrant) problem at Green Lake is a sewage pump station. When it fails, which it did three times last year, it dumps raw sewage into the crew boat storage area.

Despite the problems Shiosaki and Johnson said Seattle is better off than many cities that have less, resources. The solution there is just to close parks.

But Seattle residents have been generous. In November 2000, Seattle voters approved a $198.2 million levy lid lift for Parks and Recreation. In November 2008, Seattle voters approved a $146 million levy lid lift.

Seattle residents may be asked to dig deep again. The Seattle Parks Legacy Plan Citizens Advisory Committee is looking to put together an initiative for parks funding on the ballot, perhaps as early as 2014.