Laurelhurst Community Club
Serving 2800 Households in Seattle’s Laurelhurst Neighborhood

May 22, 2001

Pro Parks Levy Oversight Committee
100 Dexter Avenue North
Seattle, Washington 98109

RE: Opportunity Fund Draft Criteria

Dear Parks Oversight Committee:

The Laurelhurst Community Club Board of Trustees has reviewed the draft recommendations for the 2001 Opportunity Fund Criteria. We do not believe that the draft criteria are consistent with the Parks and Open Space measure passed by the voters in November 2000 or Council Ordinance 120024. We also have concerns about criteria that effectively exclude certain community groups from applying to the Opportunity Fund. We offer the following comments.

High Priority: The measure passed by the voters and the Council ordinance states that high priority for acquisition and development projects is to be given to underserved areas as defined in the 2000 Parks Comp Plan. In your draft recommendations, you do not indicate that this is the highest criterion. The ordinance references the 2000 Parks Comp Plan as the basis for this determination. You also reference the Open Space Gap Analysis. The latter reference should be deleted because it is not consistent with what the voters passed and the Council approved. You also list two additional threshold criteria that appear to have equal weight with what voters and the City Council indicate should be more important. This should be changed to reflect the will of the voters and the Council ordinance.

Second Priority: The next priority as stated in the ProParks measure and the Council ordinance is for acquisition and development projects for areas experiencing population growth, particularly those in urban center and urban village locations and those in Neighborhood Revitalization Strategy Areas. Your second threshold criteria states that the project must be in or serve an urban village or a Neighborhood Revitalization Area. This is inconsistent with the measure passed by voters and the Council ordinance. There may be areas experiencing population growth that are not in urban centers or Revitalization Areas. Groups from these areas should be allowed to submit an application to the Opportunity Fund.

Funded or Partially-Funded ProParks Projects: Your third threshold criteria precludes consideration of an Opportunity Fund application for projects already funded or included in the Pro Parks Levy. Neither the voters nor the City Council measure include this prohibition. Some neighborhoods received only partial funding for their projects with the expectation that they could apply to the Opportunity Fund for additional dollars to complete the project. As long as there is a demonstrated need in terms of satisfying the priority that the project is in an underserved area, community groups should be allowed to apply for additional funds through the Opportunity Fund, regardless of whether they have already received partial funding.

Maximum Award: You recommend that the maximum project award for acquisition projects cannot exceed $1M and for development projects $500,000. We believe these figures are arbitrary. The overriding consideration should be whether the project is located in an underserved area. We also do not believe it is equitable to reserve $4M for acquisition projects and only $1M for development projects. This, too, is arbitrary and inconsistent with the measure passed by voters and the Council.

Equity Considerations: Your draft recommendations indicate that of the $5M of the Opportunity Fund allocated in the first cycle, $3M would be reserved for acquisition projects in three Urban Center areas (University District, Denny Triangle and Pioneer Square/International District). While we recognize the needs are great in these areas, we believe it is unfair to target three areas to receive a majority of the funding. This kind of targeting is unfair to the thousands of citizens who participated in development of neighborhood planning in other areas and the 40% of Seattle's population who do not live in areas covered by a neighborhood plan. The targeting is also inconsistent with what the voters passed and the Council approved.

Retain Grassroots Involvement: Your draft criteria state that the Parks Department will work with the three urban center areas targeted to receive funds to plan and select optimal sites for acquisition. The Parks Department is certainly a good resource for community groups. We believe, however, that the Opportunity Fund process should be grassroots in nature with project ideas coming directly from community groups, rather than being dictated by the Parks Department.

We hope you will consider the concerns of the Laurelhurst Community Club in developing criteria for the Opportunity Fund that is fair, addresses geographical equity and is consistent with the will of the voters and the Council ordinance.

Sincerely,

Jeannie Hale, President
Laurelhurst Community Club
3425 West Laurelhurst Drive NE
Seattle, Washington 98105
525-5135/ FAX 525-9631
jeannieh@serv.net

cc: City Councilmembers


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