Does the Aurora-Licton Springs neighborhood need a community center?
That’s one question underlying a survey that Seattle Parks and Recreation is conducting this month.
The online survey is part of a $150,000 feasibility study that City Council President Debora Juarez initially requested for 2020. Juarez represents District 5, which includes most of Aurora-Licton Springs.
Juarez and her colleagues asked for the study “to assess the recreation and community gathering and meeting space needs” of the neighborhood centered on Aurora Avenue North between North 85th Street and North 110th Street. The study is also supposed to “examine the type of facility that would best serve the neighborhood’s needs, and the cost of securing such a facility.”
Aurora-Licton Springs is one of Seattle’s more than two dozen “urban villages” — areas designated by the city for stores and apartment buildings. Many urban villages currently have Parks and Recreation community centers that host sports, classes, camps and other activities and services.
“Most either have community centers or libraries,” resident David Osaki said. “That’s not something that exists within our urban village.”
Osaki volunteers with the Aurora-Licton Springs Urban Village neighborhood group, which lobbied Juarez for the study happening now.
There are 26 community centers spread across the city, including a few somewhat near Aurora-Licton Springs, like Green Lake and Northgate. They don’t get a lot of attention in election debates but, Osaki said, “can be the heart and soul” of a neighborhood. Investments in the centers can be a barometer for political sway and for the equity — or inequity — of city spending.
Parks and Recreation is currently working to open a new community center in South Lake Union, planning to replace Lake City’s community center with a better version (as part of a housing project) and considering a $100 million replacement of Green Lake’s community center.
Anyone can take the Aurora-Licton Springs survey, but the questions are aimed primarily at people who live, work or spend time in the neighborhood.
The survey tries to gauge the relative popularity of various activities before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, like jogging, recreational classes, indoor sports and outdoor sports.
The survey also asks what Aurora-Licton Springs needs most, among options like teen programs, senior programs and gym space. And it asks about barriers to accessing community centers in other neighborhoods.
Osaki wonders whether the city might be able to repurpose an existing building or site to provide some programs and help bring people in Aurora-Licton Springs together, he said.