Four Seattle Parks and Recreation community centers won’t have their hours slashed this fall, after all, due to a change in plans by Mayor Jenny Durkan’s administration.
The Ballard, Loyal Heights, Queen Anne and Magnolia centers were set to lose 7 to 14.5 hours per week. Queen Anne and Magnolia were no longer going to be open on Saturdays, and all four centers were set to close earlier on weekday nights.
The reductions at the popular Northwest Seattle centers were planned based on lost nonprofit funding, according to Parks. But after hearing from community members concerned about the impending changes, Durkan and Parks have decided to maintain the hours using taxpayer dollars, they said in a news release.
“We have a responsibility to listen,” the mayor said. “The city needed to step up.”
The Association Recreation Council (ARC), a nonprofit that partners with Parks to manage programs, has provided some funding for community centers since the recession, when Seattle made budget cuts. Since 2017, ARC has been paying for building monitors at the Ballard, Loyal Heights, Queen Anne and Magnolia centers, at a cost of more than $150,000 per year, allowing the centers to stay open longer for drop-in activities such as pickup basketball, Parks spokeswoman Rachel Schulkin said.
When ARC recently decided to end that arrangement, Parks planned to let the extra hours lapse, Schulkin said. But public objections apparently changed the calculus.
Seattle’s economy has boomed since the recession and voters in 2014 approved a park district that raises additional property taxes annually. The district’s budget this year is $12.17 million, with $2.42 million allocated to community-center operations.
To cover the lost ARC funding at the four centers, the city will use “2018 park district underspend” — money left over from last year, Schulkin said. None will lose weekly hours, though Magnolia will have some Friday hours moved to Saturday, she said.