Closure of Carkeek Park’s Environmental Learning Center

Dear Neighbors & Park Users

 We felt it important that you know of the impending changes in our neighborhood.
The Mayor is proposing serious budget cuts which, if passed, will have an especially adverse affect on our community. Most significantly, his proposed 2011 budget recommends over $10 million in cuts to Seattle Parks & Recreation, including the loss of approximately 100 full time staff.

We, the the Carkeek Park Advisory Council, are writing to specifically to inform you that the Mayor proposes the closure of Carkeek Park’s Environmental Learning Center and canceling all the public programs housed there.   

 The proposed change for Carkeek Park is that it will lose all of its day staff, which means both of the park’s buildings – including the Environmental Learning Center (ELC) building – will be closed for the foreseeable future.  The ELC building is a certified green structure and is an essential hub of environmental education and community throughout Seattle.  It is outfitted with rain catchment and solar panel systems and was awarded a LEED Gold Award in 2003 by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. 

 Under the Mayor’s current proposal, all public programming run through the ELC building will cease.  Salmon Stewardship, Master Foresters, Beach Docents, Tot Treks/Tyke Hikes, environmental classes, and the like will shut down.  (The ELC would remain open for private rentals, however.)  

WHAT CAN YOU DO?
The Carkeek Park Advisory Council (CPAC) is a volunteer group that meets monthly to coordinate various school and summer educational programs and support the volunteer working groups that help maintain the trails and historic Piper’s Orchard.  This is achieved through the activities of both volunteers and Parks staff.  CPAC is working with Seattle Parks to find ways to maintain all of these programs in the absence of the local Parks staff. Seattle’s two other ELCs, Discovery Park and Camp Long, will also lose their public programs although they are impacted to a lesser degree as they will remain open during the day, albeit with fewer staff. The three Park Advisory Councils have recently met to discuss ways to share their reduced resources to help deliver efficient school educational programs and summer camps. Many more discussions will be needed over the coming months as the Parks Department works out how it will manage Seattle’s parks, community centers (see below) and the ELCs.

CPAC has expressed much concern over the closure of the Carkeek Park buildings, not least because of the use by neighbors of all ages for information and educational purposes. Seattle Parks have assured us that some grounds maintenance staff will still remain at Carkeek and will have a presence each day. Other options are also being considered but nothing is likely to be decided until the budget has been approved at the end of the year.

VOICE YOUR CONCERN:
If you are concerned about these changes to your beloved parks and neighborhood, please express your concern or provide constructive suggestions to the City through the links at:

http://www.seattle.gov/council/budget/  (see the options under the “Feedback” section on the left side of the page)

A more complete report on the budgetary impact for Seattle Parks can be found here:

http://www.seattle.gov/parks/publications/parks_proposed_budget_2011.pdf

You may also keep up to date with developments on Carkeek Park through a new blog that a concerned neighbor has started:

http://savecarkeekpark.blogspot.com/

WANT TO HELP OR KEEP INFORMED?
As a general call, for those of you who would like to keep abreast of issues that affect the Carkeek Park and its neighborhood or to contribute in either a small or large way to keep Carkeek Park a wonderful place for everyone, please feel free to attend the Carkeek Park Advisory Council meeting(s). These meetings are held on the fourth Monday of every month and are open to the public. As a casual attendee, there is no commitment for prolonged involvement. You can simply come and listen and comment. But if you do have a strong desire and interest in giving back to your community and wish to become an official member of CPAC, then we would be delighted to have you join! Everyone’s opinions and views are welcome and appreciated.

Our next CPAC meeting is on Monday October 25th at 7pm in the ELC building.

I hope you will support our parks!

 Timothy Cox, Carkeek Park Advisory Council Treasurer   tccox@uw.edu

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