The Parks District (Prop 1 on the Seattle August 5 primary ballot) creates a permanent funding mechanism for maintaining and improving parks, something we have made very clear we want as a city. With more funding, parks can do all kinds of great stuff, like keeping community centers open for full hours and in good repair, maintaining the park grounds better and expanding programs. But the need that catches this blog’s eye most is the chance to improve access to all park neighbors, regardless of age and ability.
Many Seattle parks are wonderful, safe and comfortable spaces one you get to them, but they are bounded by busy streets with few comfortable or safe crossings. If a child grows up near a park but cannot get to it due to a lack of safe crossings or routes, that is a huge shame and a waste of park resources. Every home near a park should have safe and comfortable walking and biking routes so kids and adults with mobility issues can enjoy and feel invited to be part of these vital public spaces.
Today, the Parks Department does not have the means to do much parks access work. They pretty much spend their funds on the areas inside park boundaries, but the Parks District measure is a chance to change that. If it passes, the district will have the means to collaborate with SDOT on improving access to — and sometimes within — parks for people walking and biking.