Mayor Harrell Unveils Park District Budget Proposal to Keep Parks Clean, Open, and Accessible to All

Proposal focuses on essential maintenance while also taking important steps to improve safety, combat climate change, support youth, and advance equity

Plan would reestablish Park Ranger program, plant and maintain thousands of trees, keep public restrooms operational, and open new and improved parks and community centers

Seattle – Reflecting his deep commitment to a world class park system rooted in equity, access, and safe spaces for all Seattle residents, Mayor Bruce Harrell today announced his Seattle Park District budget proposal. Following months of community and stakeholder engagement, this plan will invest approximately $115 million per year toward ensuring Seattle’s nearly 500 parks, playfields, and community centers remain welcoming areas for recreation, learning, and healthy communities. Mayor Harrell’s budget prioritizes core maintenance needs while making critical investments toward safety, climate action, youth opportunities, and equity.

“When the pandemic uprooted lives, jobs, and relationships, parks became an outlet for so many of us to escape, recreate, and enjoy each other’s company, reminding us why these special places are integral for healthy communities and strong neighborhoods,” said Mayor Harrell. “We’ve also been reminded that without proper care and attention, our parks can fall into disrepair. This Parks District budget proposal is focused on restoring, renovating, and maintaining our parks and community centers – making the significant investments needed to ensure these public spaces remain exceptional reflections of our city, now and for years to come.”

The budget is informed by input from parks stakeholders, staff, the Board of Parks and Recreation Commissioners, and community members. If approved by the Seattle City Council, whose members serve as the Park District’s Governing Board, the proposal would continue $58 million in necessary services currently funded by the Parks District Cycle 1 and make additional investments to meet current needs and advance bold action on key priorities. Highlights include:

  • Opening 12 new park sites totaling more than 10 acres.
  • Making major community center renovations at Lake City, Green Lake/Evans Pool and Loyal Heights.
  • Making all 129 public restrooms available for year-round use by the end of 2028.
  • Reestablishing a robust Park Ranger program, adding 26 Park Rangers (for a total of 28) to enhance safety and promote voluntary compliance of park rules.
  • Adding a new staff team of 5 employees to respond quickly to graffiti and vandalism.
  • Planting and establishing an additional 600 trees to increase urban tree canopy and mitigate heat islands and restoring funds to the Green Seattle Partnership.
  • Decarbonizing an additional 6 community centers and other SPR facilities, contributing to the One Seattle “resilience hub” strategy to combat growing impacts of climate change.
  • Doubling Community Engagement Ambassador hours from 3,000 to 6,000 hours in up to 15 languages.
  • Doubling size of the new Equity Grant Fund to support community-driven park improvement projects in under-resourced neighborhoods.
  • Funding 20,000 hours of youth employment opportunities per year serving 80 youth.

READ: Fact Sheet: Mayor Harrell’s Park District Budget Proposal

“We recognize that the influence parks have on our communities and lives extends far beyond sports fields and playgrounds – they are equity drivers and safe havens, outdoor study halls and strongholds in the fight against climate change,” said Mayor Harrell. “Throughout my own life, whether as a student athlete, coach, or father, Seattle’s parks have been imperative in fostering growth and fostering community. Access to parks, open space, community centers, and recreation opportunities are vital to healthy, thriving communities – this budget reflects our commitment to protecting and enhancing these spaces.”

Seattle voters approved the creation of the Park District in August 2014. The first six-year cycle of funding spanned from 2015-2020 and planning for Cycle 2 was delayed in 2020 due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, the City Council, acting as the Park District Board, passed annual budgets in 2021 and 2022.

The current proposal for Cycle 2 will span from 2023-2028 and represents 34% of SPR’s total budget. To fund these services and improvements, the median value homeowner in Seattle would pay $331 annually, allowing SPR to serve every resident with high-quality facilities, parks, and programs and complete work that was stalled by the pandemic.

“This proposal will bring us back to basics to fund the essential projects that ensure our parks and community centers are well-maintained, safe, and clean for all residents to use,” said Mayor Harrell. “It also allows us to embrace our One Seattle vision, advancing forward-thinking progress and building for a more sustainable, equitable future through investments in climate resilience and services in neighborhoods that have been historically under resourced.”

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Christopher Williams, acting Superintendent of Seattle Parks and Recreation

“We are truly grateful to the taxpayers of Seattle for their continued support of our precious park system and beloved recreation facilities. The park district has enabled us to make maintenance and community access a priority. As we look toward our second cycle, our goal is to further expand access to communities in need, provide reliable maintenance of parks and facilities and improve the resiliency of our buildings and natural spaces.”

Marlon Herrera, Board of Seattle Parks and Recreation Chair

“With our parks and recreation use swelling throughout the pandemic, we owe it to our neighbors to meet their needs and expectations through the voter-approved Park District. I am excited to work with the Superintendent, the Mayor, and the City Council to implement the next round of investments.  I am confident that the dedicated public servants at Seattle Parks and Recreation will rise to the moment.”