Monday, October 11, 2010

Neighbor's Interesting and Thoughtful Comments on Imminent Closure To City Council

Below is a letter Tracey, with the Save the Laurelhurst Community Center group, sent to the City Council.

It is interesting to note that the Laurelhurst Community Center was actually a gift from the Laurelhurst neighborhood to the City (now valued at $29+ million) intended specifically for the benefit of the neighborhood to be in walking distance for families and serve as a hub for building community with the variety of classes, events and programs.

Neighbors can quickly and easily submit comments here which will go to all City Council Members.

Here is Tracey's letter:
Dear Council Members,

I respectfully request you restore the 2011 funding for the Laurelhurst Community Center (LCC).

Laurelhurst is a place for families and LCC is our hub, the place we come together to connect with our neighbors to learn and to celebrate. Numbers for LCC programs are impressive. Hundreds participate in the annual egg hunt, salmon bake and other special events. Hundreds more participate in indoor and outdoor classes and sports leagues.

I question the recommendation to focus LCC solely on programs for seniors. According to the most recent US Census data there were more than twice as many residents in the 98105 zip code in the age group of 0-19 years than residents age 55+. With capacity issues continuing at NE Seattle schools and Children’s Hospital residing and growing in our neighborhood, it would be hard to argue that Laurelhurst is not a place for children or that the needs of seniors take priority.

Let me be clear, we love our neighborhood seniors. On my block we have several “adopted” sets of grandparents for my young children. Even as Laurelhurst residents, LCC would not be a convenient place them to get to a program. Few would be able to walk to LCC. If they were to take the bus, it would be easier for them to get to Magnuson or Northgate than LCC. So why make LCC a place to be exclusively utilized by seniors? Why not pilot the senior program at Magnuson which has the space, is conveniently located on the bus line, and has plenty of parking?

I would like to understand the specific criteria used in determining which community centers should be cut and if consideration was given for the revenues those centers generate. LCC contributes to the parks opportunity fund which assists other community centers that are struggling financially. With only five community centers (Laurelhurst, Alki, Ballard, Queen Anne and Greenlake) at risk of closure there is a strong perception that these neighborhoods can “afford” to lose their centers. Is this a move towards a privatization model for community centers – at least in the communities that are perceived to be able to “afford” it?

Given that LCC was a gift, a gift now valued at $29+ million, from the neighborhood to the city, intended for the benefit of the entire community, it would truly be a crime to take LCC away from families, especially when it is actively utilized by so many. The Parks and Recreation Department community center guidelines state that it is desirable for a community center to be located within one mile of every Seattle household and it is acceptable that a community center be located within a mile and a half. Both Ravenna-Eckstein and Magnuson are outside of those parameters.

Several of my friends with young children have recently left the area citing problems with overcrowded schools, too much traffic, and other developments they consider to be “family unfriendly.” If the city delivers another blow to families by closing LCC we are destined to lose more families to the suburbs. The expression “it takes a village” is more than cliché. It is essential that we continue to have programs to bring the community together for the sake of all members regardless of age, from children to seniors.

Please restore the 2011 funding for the Laurelhurst Community Center (LCC).

Tracey S
Laurelhurst resident and mom

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