Friday, October 15, 2010

Letter from Long-time Laurelhurst Family To City Council To Save Laurelhurst Community Center

A reader forwarded us a letter sent in to City Council giving input on saving the Community Center slated to close the first week of January due to dramatic budget cuts for 2011.

Everyone is encouraged to submit comments here and they will automatically go to all City Council Members.

Here is the letter from a family in Laurelhurst:

Dear Seattle City council,

I read with interest the proposal to virtually eliminate community services and options at the Laurelhurst Community Center starting in 2011. I understand there is a budget crisis and we all must make sacrifices. However, I believe this proposal needs to be reconsidered. The idea of closing the community center as we know it seems ill-advised and even uninformed.

My family has lived in Laurelhurst for 80 years. My father first moved here in 1930 at the age of 2. One of my earliest childhood memories is tumbling class at the community center. The Laurelhurst community center and playfield are community assets that helped form my decision to live here as an adult and raise my family here. My kids take cooking, art/crafts, and music classes at the community center. We have used the community center to celebrate marriages and say good bye to friends and neighbors.

The community center serves as a hub for very popular annual community events such as Easter egg hunts, salmon bakes, summer concerts, soccer sign-ups, and community meetings. I even grew up voting at the community center and would take my daughter to vote with me still if we hadn’t been forced to vote by mail. Clearly my interest in this matter is self-serving, but also based on a very long and rich history with the community center.

I do not mean point out the obvious to you, but remember that the city has voted at least twice in the past 10 years, last in 2008, to tax ourselves to keep our parks opened and maintained. An article in the Seattle PI just today pointed out that the city’s general fund revenue increased 67% in the same time period. Surely the money voters approved for parks, $146 million from 2009 to 2014, can spare some money to keep services available at Laurelhurst Community Center? I know that many of the classes and athletic activities my kids participate in are typically full. I suspect revenue from these classes must go a long way to offset the costs of operating this and other community centers.

If my "A History of Laurelhurst" book is correct, did you know that the playfield and community center were actually purchased and developed by the community, not originally by the city? No argument the city has maintained and updated the site in my lifetime, but the incredible value of the land and facilities should not be discounted.

Effectively closing the community center to the Laurelhurst community almost seems like a plea from the city to the Laurelhurst community to take the park and fieldhouse back. I do not think that is what you want. Laurelhurst park is a jewel of the Seattle Parks, even a historic landmark. Please do the right thing and keep Laurelhurst Community Center open and useful to the community in which it resides.

Thank you,
Laurelhurst family

No comments: