Seattle Parks and Recreation and Seattle Department of Neighborhoods highlight new investments in South Park neighborhood

image of South Park Community Center signAt a roundtable with community leaders, Mayor Jenny A. Durkan highlighted several new investments in South Park. The investments include expanded youth programming, extensive facility renovations, as well as physical and safety improvements. More than $3.2 million will be spent for projects that have already started and will continue over the next two years.

“I have heard the concerns of the South Park community, particularly around public safety and economic opportunities for young people in the community, and I have immediately begun to take action on these issues,” said Mayor Durkan. “I am back in South Park today to highlight our investments so far and to hear more from community leaders on ways to further improve our engagement and impact, for a more vibrant, inclusive, and safe South Park.”

“I thank Mayor Durkan for her responsiveness to the South Park community,” said Councilmember Lisa Herbold (District 1, West Seattle & South Park). “Extending Late Night programming at the South Park Community Center to Saturday nights during this summer is a high priority for the South Park community, and a high priority for me.”

An outline of new and ongoing projects in the South Park neighborhood are as follows:

Extending Late Night Programming at South Park Community Center: Late Night programming for youth aims to provide at-risk young people a safe place, a healthy meal, and the opportunity to develop life skills. To expand access and increase opportunities for youth in diverse neighborhoods, Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR) will extend Late Night at South Park Community Center to include Saturday nights, on a pilot basis. The pilot has a budget of $21,800 and will run for 17 weeks from June 2 through September 29. South Park Community Center currently offers Friday Late Night programming for youth, and the program’s attendance has more than doubled in recent years – from serving an average of 28 youth each week in 2014 to an average of 63 in 2017. Late Night hours will be 7 p.m. to midnight on both nights. This project is a recommendation of the South Park Public Safety Task Force.

South Park Community Center Facility Renovation: Community centers are the backbone of the SPR system. In addition to enabling health, recreation and fitness, they serve as anchors for many of our neighborhoods and support a healthy environment and strong communities. As part of SPR’s 2016 Community Center Strategic Plan, eight community centers were identified as in need of major maintenance work, including South Park Community Center. SPR will be investing $1,445,000 from the Seattle Park District for a major maintenance project at South Park Community Center focused on extending the life of the facility and increasing programming potential. The final scope of the project is expected to be refined throughout the design process based on more information about costs and needs. Internal improvements could include ventilation upgrades, lobby space remodel, kitchen improvements, ADA Accessibility improvements, restroom remodel, flooring replacement in multi-purpose room, and curtain installation in gym. Exterior improvements could include exterior repair and painting, roof repair, exterior lighting improvements, and building security improvements. Planning for this project took place during Spring to Winter 2017; design phase is scheduled for Winter 2017 to Spring 2019, and construction is estimated to take place between Summer 2019 and Spring 2020. For more information, visit: https://www.seattle.gov/parks/about-us/current-projects/community-center-stabilization-overview/south-park-community-center-stabilization

Community Selected Investments: The South Park Public Safety Task Force secured $500,000 in funds for street and sidewalk improvements such as new pedestrian lights, trail lights, stairway lighting, and sidewalk widening. To engage the community in prioritizing these projects, the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods (DON) created an online survey in Spanish, Vietnamese, and English, attended 22 community events and meetings, and connected with more than 800 community members. Of the nearly 300 votes from community members, the clear winner is to provide lighting along the 8th Avenue Trail. This project will tie in with the Pavement to Parks project and other investments to activate the pathway across Hwy. 99 and connect the east side of South Park to the west side. Other projects will be announced soon.

Street and Sidewalk Improvements: In 2017, the South Park Safety Task Force released a list of recommendations that included ways to make the neighborhood safer for pedestrians. Based on their suggestions, the City of Seattle has committed to $420,600 in funding for several projects in 2018, including new alley lighting, crosswalk and signal improvements, a new radar speed signal, LED lighting upgrades, street curb improvements, and upgrades to the 8th Avenue Trail.

South Park Play Area Renovation: Based on extensive community outreach and guided by the South Park Community Center Site Wide Plan, SPR will be investing $800,000 in funding from the Seattle Park District to renovate South Park Community Center’s play area. This project will include the relocation of the play area and will incorporate elements and access for children of all ages and abilities. Planning is scheduled to resume on this project in Fall 2018. For more information, please visit https://www.seattle.gov/parks/about-us/current-projects/south-park-community-center-play-area-renovation

Youth Internships at South Park Community Center: SPR offers a wide range of youth internships at South Park Community Center to provide youth with personal growth opportunities, increase their involvement with the community, teach basic employment skills, and more. SPR will invest $17,000 in youth stipends to support approximately 28 youth internship opportunities at South Park Community Center, including opportunities with South Park Community Center’s Garden Squad, Late Night Chefs program, Summer of Safety program, and a Futsal program. In collaboration with the Seattle Human Services Department’s Seattle Youth Employment Program, 10 South Park youth will earn up to $22,500 in wages as part of the Community Center’s Farm Squad.

Summer of Service (SOS) Employment Training Program: SOS is an employment training program for middle school youth. Participants involved in this intensive summer program will learn about issues affecting their communities and then design their own project to take action. Previous projects have included waste reduction and composting, organizing and implementing community events, and habitat and trail restoration. Upon completing SOS, participants receive a $150 stipend. In 2018, SPR’s SOS program expects to serve 40 youth, 20 of whom will work in collaboration with the Southwest Teen Life Center, Camp Long, and an external partner at New Holly.

Pavement to Parks: DON and Seattle Department of Transportation are creating a new community-driven public space at 8th and Cloverdale using $70,000 in funding for temporary and adaptable treatments to reallocate underused street space for pedestrian-oriented uses.