Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Update on Status of Community Center Closure From Latest City Council Budget Meeting

A neighbor sent us an update from last Thursday’s City Council Budget Committee, reporting back that some progress was made about restoring funding for community centers—but not Laurelhurst. Council staff recommended restoring some hours to Greenlake, Queen Anne and Ballard—from 15 to 30, but not for Laurelhurst or Alki. The City Council seemed to be on board with this recommendation.

We are told that one of the reasons that hours were not restored to Laurelhurst was because of what they consider low drop-in hours. The problem is that the Parks Department and individual community centers don’t really have a standard way of keeping track of hours. For example, when a mom and baby bringing a toddler to tot play, at Laurelhurst, the mom and baby are not counted as drop-ins. Similarly, when there are gaps in group activity at the gym, those kids and grown-ups are not counted.

Before making drastic cuts to any community center, good data is necessary. And they don’t have good data.

One of the other issues is converting the Laurelhurst Community Center to office space. Because the staff briefing paper (known as the “green sheet”) did not address this issue, Councilmember Tom Rasmussen brought this up at the meeting. He is very opposed to this type of move.

Under the Mayor’s proposed budget, the second floor of the Greenlake Center and the lower activities room at Laurelhurst could be converted to office space. It has even been suggested that the fireside room be converted to office space.

Councilmember Rasmussen needs to build support with other councilmembers on this issue. Councilmembers O’Brien, Licata, Burgess and Godden seem to be on board. Councilmember Conlin wants a proposal that would be budget neutral (if office space is provided elsewhere), but council staff did not think that would be possible.

The neighbor said that when you contact councilmembers, please urge them not to convert our center to office space. And there are many other good reasons to restore the funding cuts to the Laurelhurst Community Center.

Final decisions about the 2011 City Budget are now in the hands of City Council until November 22nd when the budget will be adopted.

Until then emails and phone calls to councilmembers are still urgently needed and can still make a difference for Laurelhurst Community Center.

The November 4th Budget Meeting can be viewed here, courtesy of the Seattle Channel. The discussion on Community Centers starts at about 84 minutes in to the meeting.


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