Monday, November 1, 2021

Amendment Submitted To City Council To Keep Community Center Open By Councilmember Pedersen

City Councilmember (District 4) Alex Pedersen contacted the Laurelhurst Blog following the  Laurelhurst Blog post last week about the potential that the Laurelhurst Community Center could close permanently and no longer offer community services.

The Laurelhurst Community Club learned that "buried in the 2022 Mayor's budget is the closure of one of the City's 26 community centers. Ours." as they wrote in a recent newsletter.

The LCC newsletter also included this information:
In the budget, Parks and Recreation unilaterally changed the center's purpose from a facility that serves the community to that of a "premium rental facility” to generate revenue in support of pop-up activities around the City. This is a complete shut down of community programming at the center.

The process of the proposed closure was not transparent. There was no outreach from Parks and Recreation to LCC or to its Laurelhurst Advisory Committee, no public meetings, no disclosure to our District 4 City Councilmember. It is just buried on page 103 in the City's Budget book.

All City community centers should remain public facilities, not exclusive private rentals for the Department of Parks and Recreation. Closing ANY of the City's community centers to convert them to exclusive private rental facilities sets the wrong precedent that Parks and Recreation can make unilateral decisions about the use and future of the City's public facilities. Closing a center in the community it was established to serve is not just.

Surrounding neighbors donated the original land and community center building to the City by in 1927 as a "recreational" facility for the entire public. For 94 consecutive years, Parks and Recreation has operated center programming.

The next closest center, Magnuson Park Community Center, is completely closed for renovation through early fall of 2022. This exacerbates the elimination of the Laurelhurst Community Center. The complete lack of programming along this Northeast sector of the City for a year is poor planning. If anything, budgets should be increased at nearby centers to provide more needed classes and programming.

 Councilmember Pedersen told the Laurelhurst Blog:
Hi, Laurelhurst Blog,

Thanks for alerting neighbors about Mayor Durkan’s unfortunate decision to try to close the Laurelhurst Community Center! 
I wanted to make sure you saw the amendment I introduced and pitched at our Council’s Budget Committee meeting this week in hopes of restoring the funds to keep the center open. 
It might be helpful to ask readers to ask Councilmembers to support my amendment specifically. Also, they can reach all 9 Councilmembers using the following email address: Here is the Mayor's email address: .

The amendment states:

This Council Budget Amendment would add $190,000 GF ongoing to Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) to sustain the current use of the Laurelhurst Community Center. 
The 2022 Proposed Budget ends this facility’s use by the public and its programming and regular staffing by SPR employees and converts it instead to availability for rental. 
The Laurelhurst Community Center is connected by a bridge to the adjacent elementary school, where 45 percent of students are Black, indigenous, or people of color (BIPOC) and 31 percent of students’ families are low income. These demographics are consistent with those of typical users of the community center.

Neighbors were sent this information when sending in comments:

Dear community member, 
Thank you for writing about changes for Laurelhurst Community Center in the proposed budget for 2022. We appreciate what an asset Laurelhurst Community Center has long been for the Laurelhurst neighborhood, with its programs for seniors, youth, and others, and with its signature events like the Salmon Bake. 
For 2022, we made the difficult decision to transition Laurelhurst from a full-service community center to a rental and event space. Some of its historic programming will take place at nearby centers, but it will no longer function as a Seattle Parks and Recreation community center. 
We do anticipate programs and events continuing to be offered at Laurelhurst through the outside organizations that rent the facility. We made this decision in order to prioritize our limited resources toward the goal of EQUITABLE SERVICE DELIVER. 
The funds that had paid for recreation staffing at Laurelhurst are proposed to create a pilot program that provides free, pop-up recreation programming in streets, parking lots, and parks in low-income neighborhoods as an ongoing Seattle Parks and Recreation program.   
Here is more information about the City Council budget process currently considering this change, including information on how to participate in the upcoming public hearings on November 10 and November 18.
Laurie Dunlap Superintendent’s Office, Seattle Parks and Recreation

For more information go here. 

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