UPDATE (7-12-11): The letter from the Parks Department’s Acting Superintendent, Christopher Williams, can be downloaded here (PDF, 5KB).
On May 9th, the Wedgwood Parks Committee submitted an application for a Neighborhood Matching Fund (NMF) Small & Simple grant to develop a design for Wedgwood’s soon-to-be new park at the Morningside Substation Site. Having discussed the project with the Parks Department and Department of Neighborhoods, we knew that the “Wedgwood Deserves A Park (Design Phase)” project was a long shot due to Parks Department budget constraints. Nevertheless, we thought moving forward with the application was a responsible process for the community that has been so supportive of the project from the start.
Unfortunately, today the Parks Committee found out today that it was not awarded the NMF Small & Simple grant in a letter from the Parks Department’s Acting Superintendent, Christopher Williams. According to Mr. Williams, due to the City’s current budget situation the Parks Department needs to “focus our available resources on taking care of existing parks and controlling our operating costs for both park maintenance and recreation programs.” Mr. Williams went on to say that “it is a good time to acquire new neighborhood park sites where they are needed and green space where it is available…It’s smart to buy available parcels now, when we have the (levy approved) funding, to ‘land bank’ them for the present time, and develop them sometime in the future, when economic condition improve in Seattle and to the extent that we have the financial capacity to maintain new parks.”
One issue very important to the Parks Committee throughout this process is what will happen to CC & Company when the Morningside Substation changes ownership between Seattle City Light and the Seattle Parks Department, especially if a design and funds are not available to develop the site. The Parks Committee made it clear in a letter to the Parks Department that should funding not be available for park design and development, that it was important to the Wedgwood Community Council that CC & Company be allowed to remain on site so that the community was not left without either a new park or a strong local business. To this point, Mr. Williams had the following encouraging statement. “We will manage the ‘land banked’ sites on a case by case basis, working with the affected communities. Where the sites include viable businesses it is our hope that these can continue in place.”
While today’s letter delays the design and likely the development of the Morningside Substation for a new Wedgwood park, the acquisition process continues to move forward despite delays of its own. We will provide an update on that process in the coming weeks.