Community center at risk of being shut down

Seattle Parks and Recreation is facing a $2.5 million budget shortfall this year, which means at least one of our neighborhood community centers is at risk of being closed down. According to KING 5 News, either the Ballard Community Center (6020 28th Ave NW) or Loyal Heights Community Center (2101 NW 77th St) face the possibility of closure because of their close proximity.

“Our family has played & volunteered at Loyal Heights Community Center for over 20 years,” My Ballard reader Eli emailed us when he heard the news. “Parks are a large part of what keeps our neighborhood great.”

There are two public meetings scheduled for people to voice their opinion on the possible closure, as well as other cuts that are expected this year. Those cuts, according to KING 5, include closing 24 of 27 wading pools and closing two to three community swimming pools.

“We’re asking neighbors and patrons to attend one of these hearings and to share their positive experiences about the center’s programs,” said Melissa Valenzuela, the Recreation Center Coordinator at the Loyal Heights Community Center in an email to My Ballard. “While we do not know how Loyal Heights Community Center will be impacted, we hope patrons will speak on behalf of all recreation programs and facilities, including nearby Ballard and Bitter Lake Community Centers. We hope patrons will tell our city leaders about what would happen if Seattle Parks no longer offered low-cost fitness programs, no longer offered preschool classes, no longer offered teen programs, or no longer offered activities for patrons over age 55.”

The first hearing is tonight, April 28th at the New Holly Gathering Hall in South Seattle (7054 32nd Ave S). The second meeting, which is closer to Ballard will be held Tuesday, May 4 at North Seattle Community College Cafeteria (9600 College Way North). Sign-in for both meetings starts at 5 p.m. with the public hearing at 5:30 p.m.

Earlier this week, Seattle Parks and Recreation chief Tim Gallagher resigned his post. Parks and Recreation faces cuts of more than $10 million and more than 100 full-time positions in 2011, reports the Seattle Times.

Geeky Swedes

The founders of My Ballard

76 thoughts to “Community center at risk of being shut down”

  1. Good morning, what great news to start off the day…

    I'd suggest that they cut into the city council budget, the staff, etc. to the bone before they cut community centers, pools, parks, etc.

    If anyone sits still for this, they deserve what they get.

  2. where's the money going to come from?

    this city is in pretty bad shape financially.

    should we hold off on hiring more police officers instead?

    sadly I haven't gone into one of these community centers since they made us vote by mail, but I know they provide value.

  3. We've been using the Loyal Heights center workout room 2-3 times a week for over a year now so we would certainly be affected if that center were to close. Another concern is the crime level in that area with another vacant building. It's bad enough already so I shudder to think of what might happen if they take away the funding. What a sad state of affairs.

  4. Cut the council budget in half, diahria boy, don't give them the time to waste on ennacting petty nanny state laws, like outdoor park smoking and spitting bans.

    Cut their staff in half, so they don't waste time outreaching for people to suckle on the barren teets of this city.

    And, quit saying it's parks or cops until the above happens.

  5. I'm sorry. The answer to this problem is painfully simple.

    Raise taxes, raise taxes, raise taxes!

    The state budget has clearly been cut to the bone. There is no more “fat” or “waste” to be trimmed, so lets all stop fantasizing that that's the answer. If there were easy cuts that everyone could agree on they would have been made by now.

    I really don't understand all these people who aren't willing to pay for the services we need and appreciate. To paraphrase Oliver Wendell Holmes “I like paying taxes, with them I buy civilization.” And to be fair, it ought to be an income tax to boot.

    But noooo, raising taxes or implementing an income tax might require those who are well-off in this society to make some sacrifices and pay their fair share. Wahhhh. We can't have that.

  6. Too bad Pro-Parks Levy $$ can't be used to help out here. It makes me want to re-think if I'll ever vote yes on that one again.

  7. Sell one of the properties and use the funds to keep the other operating in addition to slashing city budgets and staff.

    This cr@p is standard liberal scare tactic drivel to get your taxes raised, nothing more.

    What this really means is that their budget will GROW by $10 million LESS than what they WANT, so they are threatening to ax jobs (when does the government ever fire anybody!) and close buildings to get the funds – the folks will be put on paid leave/holiday, and be reimbursed once they get the funds. FORCE them to sell one of the properties!

  8. Why not willingly close one of the two community centers? Better to have one that is overused then 2 that are underused. Possibly by closing one-some portion of the money that supported it could be earmarked for improving-upgrading the remaining community center. Really having two so close together is a bit of a luxury.

  9. Well off? Have you seen the property taxes we pay around here? I'm very middle class and pay through the nose and if you think the income tax won't drop down to us, you're insane.

  10. You are quite free to send the government all of your money.
    Write them a check and pop it in the mail.

    Want to raise taxes? Want an income tax?
    No one is stopping you from paying more taxes!

    Come on, go for it!
    Lead by example!

    Here is the ultimate fair tax: every adult sends in $20,000 per year. No ifs, ands or buts. We all pay the the same amount. Everything else is just hyped up class warfare.

  11. I don't see them as a waste of money. I gladly pay property taxes to make my community all the more liveable, and community centers are a part of that, in my opinion. So, since we have a difference of opinion, what should be done? Should we yell and scream at each other? Call each other stale names? Rely on the “you liberal *(&” or, “you right wing &(*&(” ? Blame the homeless for our problems? Thats easy and tends to be the standard fare on this blog. Finding solutions, thats hard.

  12. The Loyal Heights Community Center is hosting a Car Wash this Saturday, May 1st, to raise money for the Center and programs offered, etc. The car wash will run from 10am – 12 noon at:

    Loyal Heights Community Center
    2101 NW 77th St
    Seattle, WA 98117 US

  13. How about a neighborhood tax levy?
    It shouldn't take anymore than $100 a year per household to cover the expenses. Unless this is one of those things we would rather other people pay for.

  14. “Name” proves that idiots are among us.

    Maybe “Name” needs to turn off Fox “News” and KKKVI radio and spend some time in the real world.

    “…hyped up class warfare” indeed; when the top 1% of the population has over 40% of the wealth, that's class warfare. Taxing those people at a higher rate—which would still leave them multiple millions that they could never spend—is the sensible way to do things.

    But if you're an obtuse, backward type, like this “Name” guy, you have problems with the clear and obvious.

  15. The sheer ignorance of this “Name” guy is amazing. Yet typical for people of his mentality.

    Governments fire and lay off people all of the time. You're either uninformed or willfully ignorant because it fits with your backward ideological beliefs.

    People like you belong in the 19th century; not the 21st. Wake up and smell the coffee.

  16. Yeah, except they are less than 2 miles apart (1.3 according to Google maps). I think people would adjust just fine if one disappeared.

  17. Nope. Seattle city spending actually rose last year, just less than they hoped for, so they call it a cut back.

    That's like when you get a raise of 5%, but hoped for 10%, so can only afford the coupe instead of the 4 door. Then you pretend you're suffering.

  18. I'm tired of levy after levy. How about they use the tax dollars I CURRENTLY pay? Try fixing the budget and cutting out the fat first – then come to me for more money if you really need it.


  20. My guess is that decisions will be made based on usage vs cost to maintain which means that your whining will have little to no effect on any outcome. Public meetings are really just to pacify the masses and are so poorly attended as to be a waste themselves.

  21. Hey Bark are you actually employed? Do you understand how a “private” business operates? Or do you just always pretend? Oh how you must suffer.

    My company, like my competitors and my customers, are not meeting revunue projections. Therefore we in the real world must make real decisions just like the City for not meeting forcasts.

    It is real. It is painful as good people and their families do suffer.

    Maybe someday when you wake from your self-indulgent stupor you'll understand it.

  22. User fees have the moral high ground over a levy. Of course, there might not be enough users who are willing to pay to keep the centers open but I'm okay with that.
    Perhaps we could explore commercial options such as an espresso stand or Saturday flea markets.

  23. Well Bark if the truth does need to be told we do demand of our customers to pay the increases needed for the quality of products and services that we provide them which supports the cost of operating our business.

    And there is absolutely no shame it that.

  24. When the economy is doing so badly and a a result people are out work, community services are critical to the fabric of society. More children need library's, parks and community centers more than ever. If these 'distractions' are taken away crime is guaranteed to rise.

    This is exactly what happened in Britain in the 70's. We do not want to go there.

  25. Hate to drag it into this issue, but the “anti business” attitude that is oh so evident in the bike trail issue hurts places like community centers and other social services. We all know that the economy is not robust at this time, by any means………but knowingly and willingly doing things that erode away at jobs and the city's tax base is foolish, in my humble opinion.

    We all have our personal beliefs and values. Community centers and parks for kids to participate in activities and sport leagues are higher up on mine than a number of smaller dog parks and similar places. We would love a Utopian City where we had everything for everyone, but everything has a price and the dollars are finite.

    Raise taxes? I am not for it at this time, at all. The elected officials need to manage their agencies as us business owners do. It hurts to make tough decisions, and if some community centers must be shut down, then so be it. However, it seems that our officials like to float threats of cutting social services at times instead of cutting some fat in their own agencies. Reduction of the days that these centers are open and the like seem like an alternative to a total shut down.

    With the increase in population density on the Ballard area, I would think community centers would have an even greater demand, but I really don't know that and would not feel right making a strong assertion as to the validity of that.

  26. Britain in the 70s was being ruined by socialists. Maggie, god bless 'er, came along, kicked Arthur Scargill's butt, and the UK had two decades of spectacular growth.

    Even Labour is no longer socialist in the UK now. They know better and learned their lesson after Wilson/Callaghan turned Britain into an IMF basket case with out of control spending.

  27. LHCC is simply a home away from home for my two kids. We know all the staff by name. The preschool program is terrific as is the gymnastics class that my son attends. We would not be able to comfortably afford both kinds of classes elsewhere.

    For those of you who will just shrug this one off and think “they'll deal”—you don't understand. LHCC is a hub of neighborhood activity and congregating. It is where my daughter met her very first best friend, teenagers hang after school, and adults catch up. I know this center has much more history than just the two years my family and I have been going there.

    This (as is Ballard and Bitterlake) is an entity worth fighting for and saving.

    One last thing, Seattle Parks has a program called “Specialized Programs” for youth and adults who are challenged. The existence of such a thing distinguishes Seattle Parks from many other cities. I always rave that when my eldest brother who is mentally challenged visited from Houston a couple of years ago, he attended six activities within the two months he was up here. Unheard of in Houston!

  28. First Bark, I see the difference that you have shifted from your original point on what is a “cut back” and anticpated revenue. You might even now be tracking to your real point that you resent having to pay taxes to live in a free and vibrant society.

    No if the customer has a need then they will pay. They might choose to cut corners and buy a lesser quality and risk their existing sales base. They could choose to go with my competitor for a short term gain or a long term position. Either way they will pay a prevailing market price.

    As for taxes there are numerous ways of lowering the impact (you might have heard of write offs) or qualifying for various credits. Could you name a country that doesn't require some revenue from their citizens? Or a state, county or city?

  29. I agree that the programs offered by all CCs are terrific. However, the city is only threatening to close ONE of the centers – either LY or Ballard. So the area will still have a community center available.

  30. No, it didn't go “Poof!” at all. That money can only be used to create *new* parks. It can't be used at all for maintaining/operating the existing parks. Why? Because that's how the levy was worded on the ballot, and is therefore encoded in law since we approved it that way. If it had been an *operating* levy then, yes, the money could help out in tight economic times like these. However, the Parks Department is in a bind now because if they actually use the levy money as intended, that will only exacerbate the problem of not enough funds to operate/maintain their facilities. It will lead to that crazy, nonsensical cycle of opening new facilities while closing older ones they can no longer afford to operate.

  31. CM–I would tend to agree that the kids would be fine. More so where the parents/guardians are connected with the kids. There will always be kids that slip through the social safety net. There is a short fall and they need to make a difficult decision and closing one facility for some time frame is both fair and prudent.

    Bark, you are yelping again. Didn't Maggie accomplish the GDP growth in part by cutting spending on defense? At the same time didn't she increase spending on health care, social security and employment training at 50% more than what the GDP growth was for her tenure? She did accomplish lowering direct taxes. But didn't she offset that, as well as, increase revenues with massive increases of indirect taxes?

  32. Name calling is all you folks have left?

    That and saying that parks, cops, community centers etc. have to go, because you won't control the rate of growth in government, nor the scope of what you think government should be doing.

    No, not until the rich have suffered enough.

    (lol, like THAT will ever happen)

  33. Hmmm

    I'd like you to name just one position that has been eliminated in the last five years from the County or State payroll, smarty pants.

    Fact of the matter is, you can't, the ONLY sector of our economy that has increased is in state and county jobs.

    They have also received the greatest percentage of wage increases in that same time frame, especially grotesque in the union ranks.

    So, let's talk about ignorance, and why the cops or parks have to now suffer.

  34. Sure these are tough economic times, but closing down a community center is so sad–they're most needed when the economy is doing badly and more people are out of work and can't afford expensive classes. I love the LHCC cheap yoga classes and the toddler playroom for my kid. We have two centers close together, but walking an extra 1.3 miles is a lot. User fees are one solution, but the community centers are great because they're cheap and basically open to everyone. What about increasing use? Or holding more fundraisers? How big is the funding shortfall, and are we talking longterm or temporary? I wonder if we could come up with some alternative to shutting it down. It's our community center, we should be able to do something to save it.

    I'll try to attend the meeting at North Seattle CC.

  35. The handful of yahoo's screaming 'boycott' aside, most of us supporting the trail aren't anti-business. We just don't buy into the contention that the trail as currently proposed will drive out the businesses and erode away at jobs, any more than it's driven out the businesses between Fremont and Fred Meyer. The decimation of Fremont's light industry is a product of Suzie Burke's decision to move her properties in a different direction, not the presence of the B-G trail.

    As to the topic at hand (and this is more of a general response not so much a direct response to bbo who, refreshingly, did offer up concrete ideas for cuts). It's easy to say just “cut the fat” and we'll all be fine, but unless you're going to point out exactly what fat you're proposing get's cut you might as well be asking to shut down all the community centers. After all I'm sure there are people who consider them fat. It's not that I don't think that there's some level of real waste in City Hall it's just that I doubt it's amounts to enough to cover the budgetary shortfall. As such the only real options are to raise taxes and/or cut services, and that some of those services will be regarded as essential by others. I certainly agree that reducing the number of day open and maybe temporarily suspending the smaller park projects for the rest of the year are preferable to closing a center. Increasing user fees across the board should also be on the table. The two centers may only be 1.3 miles apart but with small kids Loyal Heights CC is just barely walkable for us Ballard CC (and we use both) means getting in the car. I suspect this is true for a lot of families.

  36. Hmm so someone making 200K owes 10% of their gross salary in taxes while someone making minimum wage owes 112% of their gross salary (assuming 40 hours/week 52 week/year) in taxes. Sounds real fair to me.

    How about we just scrap the horribly regressive sales and B&O taxes and replace them with a graduated income tax instead.

  37. That’s the lamest thing I’ve heard in a long time. I think that we can’t shut down a community center. I use it often. Can’t we do something to help?

    – signed by a Loyal Heights 7 year old

  38. I have to ask ask as a Welshman from Wales, what the heck has Maggie Thatcher and the Conservative Party got to do with our Ballard Community Center?

  39. Gimme a break First the city increases density for Ballard. Now they plan to cut 1 of 2 CC’s. Obesity is an epidemic. And yeah – I’ll take my kid to 24hr or LA fitness – great pan – they are marketed as such a family oriented clubs (note sarcasm). How ‘bout the city try to cut in another part of the city? To be frank, the south end is off limits (diversity blah blah blah), and NE also (too many powerful people there). Ballardites are for the most part passive and the city knows this and this issue will blow over. Ballard is (and becoming more so every year) diverse – both age race and economically. Unfortunately I say they already made a decision – now the hearings are for us to feel like we matter. Wonder what the Australians do when budgets tight. C’mon Tim Gallagher – what’d you learn down under aside from having some good taxpayer paid for steaks on the barbie and Fosters galore. What a crock! Keep both Ballard and Loyal CC’s open!

  40. Perhaps instead of funding the Compass Center's new building in Ballard, the city could use our money to help keep current buildings (like the Community Centers at issue here) open.

  41. I have no reason to use any the two in question.
    They are less than two miles apart.
    The walk will do you good.
    Close one. Sell it. The revenue will fund the other for quite some time.
    The sold property will be developed and those residing on it will increase the tax base.

    By the way, why do think all these condos have sprung up?
    The city loves to give building permits for them as the tax base density increases.

  42. The number chosen was arbitrary.
    The point still remains that the ultimate fair tax is one where all contribute equally.
    Make it $10,000 per year then.
    If you are making min. wage you are paying no federal income tax anyways and this may act as as an incentive to make more.

    A graduated income tax will have the effect of forcing the high-end earners and business owners, and their jobs and their money, out of the state and that graduation will creep lower and lower. I know that if this state ever puts in an income tax I'll move my company out of state in a heartbeat. I agree about the sales and B&O taxes, they have to go.

  43. Wow, you are really an expert at how to spend other people's hard earned money as well as telling them how much of their own money they can spend! Perhaps we should all make the same, and wear the same clothes, and read the same little red book, except those in charge.

    Mao would be so proud!

    Never used the community centers and I do not plan to.
    You use them, you pay for them.
    It makes no sense for two to be open so close to each other. Sell one.

    No one is stopping you from joining that 1%.
    Do I detect a hint of envoy? Bitterness perhaps?
    Sounds like you are a bit jealous, but that is what class warfare is, stirring up jealousy.

    Tell me now, how is it that taxing me a higher rate than you is going to benefit you? I'll have that much less to invest and I'll recoop my losses by firing a few folks. The rest can pick up the slack; in this economy they'll be thanking me for not laying them off. I'll come out ahead either way as I can always move and really deplete the tax base as well as hike up the local unemployment rate. I'm sure I can find plenty of places to relocate that will give me a great deal on taxes. South Carolina perhaps? Sound familiar?

    Again, no one is stopping you from giving the government more of your money.

  44. Can't we just talk the city council to use the levy dollars to keep the current facilities (centers and pools) opened instead of acquiring new land (30 or 60 millions ?) that the Parks department will not be able to maintain ???
    This does not make any sense !!!!
    I was excited to get a new playground close to my house but now, i would prefer to keep the community centers open since I still have lots of choice of outside playgrounds to go too.

    That levy was poorly written. It is too bad when you think the seattle people were quite generous about it but did not realize the centers will need to be closed.
    Are we going to end-up with tones of green outside spaces/parks, badly maintained and no indoor recreations ?
    Who should we talk to ?

  45. CM, this is only the first closing in 2010. Even if closing 1 out 2 might make economics sense, they might close more next year and more pools until most of the will be gone.
    2010 – 2.5 millions this year = 3 Comunicity centers + 3 pools + wading pool program
    2011 – 10 milions nex year = ????? A community budget is around 400 000 dollars I think.
    2012 – Wait we have no money to maintain with the new outdoor park
    – lets' close more pools and community centers. It never rains here, right.

    And it is not about raising taxes. They already did with the last levy. The city has millions from that levy to create new parks.
    And yes, comunitycenter are really important for the community and families, the teeanegers, the kids, the stay-at-home moms who can pay for the cc toddler room but cannot afford the membership at the zoo or private inside playground.
    But you know what families and people of all social classses uses the facilities because it is OUR facilities.

    Let's talk to the city council and to the mayor.

  46. Unfortunately, they WILL close more next year and it is not a threat.
    It will have a worse impact on the poorer neighbourhood like down South.
    The city is missing 10 millions for the parks for next year = they can't maintain the facilities.
    It is possibe they close Greenlake pool next year. It is on the table!!
    Unless if they use the money from the levy .. and may be they can't.

    It is all UP to McGinn and his priorities and his vision now.

    And they could close the Ballard library too or may be the Greenwood one … (out of parks department scope).
    Anyway, you get the pictures, right.

  47. Name, you're obviously not using centers or pools or basketball fields and don't have kids and you're probably not unemployed or retired either. It's OK. we all have different needs and lifestyle.
    But what the hell are you doing on this blog ? Abusing a 7 year old who enjoys going to a comunity center.
    Please, choose a different place to vant.
    What's happening will affect a lot of us. Can you please respect that?

  48. The all city is affected. They will probaly close Rainier beach too because it is close to Rainier. Ballard will not be worse. We all will. And BTW Gallagher did not supporth the park levy for a reason.

  49. Anyone and everyone on this thread SHOULD ATTEND the budget hearing at NSCC on Tues 5/4! I attended the South Seattle mtg last night and it was enlightening (though grim) to hear the budget projections. The city council members are all there and the mayor too. Get there as early as you can to sign up to have 2 minutes to say your piece.
    These centers matter greatly to MANY in these neighborhoods and they are both VERY well used places so neither is a clear choice for closing. They both operate on reduced hours already (opening later on some days) and closing them completely would be a huge blow.
    PLEASE do whatever you can to help if you care about these closures! Writing letters, making calls, even have your kids write or draw pictures to send! If BCC or LHCC mean something to you I sincerely urge you to act!

Leave a Reply