Thursday, November 18, 2010

Sad News...Drastic Cuts to Carkeek Park & Its Public Programs

The Seattle City Council took its final votes on the 2011-2012 budget last Friday. 

Unfortunately, as per a recent email from a Councilmember's Aide,
the Council DID NOT alter the Mayor’s proposal for 
Carkeek's Environmental Learning Center (ELC) and its public programs.  

Carkeek Environmental Learning Center WILL BE CLOSED to the public - 
and its public programs will NO LONGER CONTINUE - 

Official announcement of these closures will be made Monday, November 22nd. 

Sadly, Here's what Seattle residents will loose because of this ill-guided decision:

·                    Carkeek Park and Llandover Wood trail maintenance & development
·                     Piper’s Creek Orchard care
·                     Carkeek Park Beach Docent Program
·                     Master Foresters Program
·                     Salmon Stewards Program
·                     Demonstration gardens
·                     Preschool environmental education programs (Tot Treks/Tyke Hikes)
·                     Senior environmental education programs 
·                     An outstanding staff Naturalist

And to make matters worse, in a surprise decision from the City Council,
The Carkeek ELC will be open for rentals ONLY. 
School day programs will NO LONGER CONTINUE at Carkeek Park.
School programs will continue ONLY at Discovery Park and Camp Long

The Parks Department states that it is reaching out to partners in the community that will hopefully be able to use the ELC for educational programming.  If you’d like to get more updates on this, please stay in touch with Councilmember Sally Bagshaw’s office, as she Chair’s the Council’s Parks Committee.

Contact information for Councilmember Sally Bagshaw is below:

Sally Bagshaw
Sally Bagshaw
Position: 4
In office since: 2010
Current term: 2010-2013
 Parks & Seattle Center; and Alaskan Way Viaduct & Seawall Replacement Project
Phone: (206) 684-8801
Staff: Kathy Nyland and Philip Roewe

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Save Carkeek Park's "Nature Play" Program for Preschoolers!

There is, in our local Piper's Creek watershed, nestled between 
ferns and conifers and among Nature's critters, 
a Special Place for you and your child to explore and learn....

Carkeek Park's "Nature Play" (a.k.a "Tot Treks" or "Tyke Hikes") are engaging, outdoor adventures for preschoolers ages 2 to 5.  They are a wonderful mix of creative play and environmental education that forms a respect for Nature for a lifetime.  

Carkeek's "Tot Treks" run every Thursday morning from 10:00-11:15.  They are led by trained Naturalists who capture the interests of  children and adults alike.  So far this season we've learned about animal habitats, spiders, soil and plants, fall colors, salmon and much more.  

Recent Tot Trekkers helped restore parts of Carkeek Park by planting native species such as Low Oregon Grape and Western Hemlock.

The program has drawn hundreds of preschoolers in recent years and is a source of income for Seattle Parks and Recreation.


This email came from a concerned mom regarding the proposed budget cuts to Carkeek Park's environmental education programs for preschoolers.  It was sent to the Seattle City Council and is posted here as well:

Dear Seattle City Council Members, 

I learned last week that Carkeek Park Environmental Learning Center will be closing its doors come January as a result of the Mayor's proposed budget for 2011.  I want to express my profound sadness and disappointment over this public service cut.

I am the mother of two young boys aged 3.5 and 1.5. We attend the Carkeek Park preschool program "Nature Play" weekly.  They love it!  They love the teachers, Stephanie and Brian.  They love running through the meadow.  They love hugging the trees.  They love learning about the salmon.  They love planting new Western Hemlocks in the tot garden.

How can we expect the next generation to care for the our home, planet earth, without having this kind of interaction with our outdoor world and nature?  I am of the opinion that this type of education and public service is priceless and what sets our community apart from others.  My husband is a student at UW and we don't have the money to send our little ones off to an expensive, indoor preschool.  

Personally, I think this incredible outdoor preschool experience is so much healthier for their little brains and bodies anyway.

I know I do not stand alone on this issue.  I would stand up with the other mothers that feel the same way and together we say:

 "The future of our earth is in the hands of our children!  
We need these programs and education to 
instill our youth with a respect for Mother Earth. 

Do not underestimate this simple, public service. 
Please reconsider cutting environmental education for the young!"

- Sara Egbert

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Carkeek's Master Forester Program, by Lex Voorhoeve

On November 6th, 2010, thirty volunteers worked at the South entrance of Carkeek Park, fighting invasive, non-native blackberries and replacing them with new native plants.  Such an event would be impossible were it not for the experience of five lead graduates from the Carkeek Park Master Foresters classes.  (There would have been seven leads but two were directing another work party.) 

Three of such Master Forester classes were offered, in 2005, 2007 and 2009.  Each class stretched out over eleven Saturdays between June and February, so that all seasons were covered. Each class lasted from 8.30 - 12.00, with about 40% of the time indoors and 60% of the time out in the field - a real "hands on" curriculum.  

In addition, students were assigned a project area, for which they had to make an assessment: What vegetation is there, what native plants are there, what invasive plants are there?  What needs to be done with the vegetation? Is planting needed?  How many of which species need to be ordered?  All in all a rather involved project. 

Unique to these classes was that they often attract new people, without much volunteer experience.  And many, as said in the beginning, become leaders of work parties, sometimes for special days like today (November 6, 2010) or during the regular monthly STARS work parties. (STARS is an acronym for "Streams, Trails, and Restoration Stewards.")

And some start new activities, like the two Master Foresters that initiated a Golden Gardens volunteer group. Continuation of these once-every-two-years classes is vital for keeping volunteer input in Carkeek Park - and elsewhere - alive.

Decision Time Is Near....

Soon Mayor McGinn and the Seattle City Council will make their decision regarding the proposed closure to Carkeek Park's Environmental Learning Center, as well as the proposed elimination of the staff and public programs housed there.  

A final decision date of November 22nd, 2010 mentioned at the budget hearing meeting at City Hall back on October 26th.

We ask supporters of Carkeek Park, the ELC and its public programs to voice your concern over the proposed closures.

Below is the contact information for Mayor McGinn's office and Seattle City Council Members.  Emails, letters, phone calls -  let your voice be heard and help keep Carkeek Park's ELC and its programming open to the public.

Click here to contact Seattle's Mayor, Mike McGinn.

Click here to contact the Seattle City Council.  (Council Member information and contacts are also listed below.)

Note that Councilmember Sally Bagshaw chairs the committee overseeing Parks.  
Contacting Ms. Bagshaw directly can help 
make a positive change in the Mayor's proposed budget.

You may also contact Seattle Councilmembers by mail at:
Seattle City Council
P.O. Box 34025
Seattle, WA 98124-4025

Richard Conlin
Richard Conlin, Council President
Position: 2
In office since: 1998
Current term: 2010-2013
Chair: Regional Development & Sustainability; and SR 520
Phone: (206) 684-8805
Staff: Elaine KoPhyllis Shulman and Sara Nelson
Sally Bagshaw
Sally Bagshaw
Position: 4
In office since: 2010
Current term: 2010-2013
 Parks & Seattle Center; and Alaskan Way Viaduct & Seawall Replacement Project
Phone: (206) 684-8801
Staff: Kathy Nyland and Philip Roewe
Tim Burgess
Tim Burgess
Position: 7
In office since: 2008
Current term: 2008-2011
Chair: Public Safety & Education
Phone: (206) 684-8806
Staff: Betsy GraefNate Van Duzer and Rebekah PapĂ©
Sally Clark
Sally J. Clark
Position: 9
In office since: 2006
Current term: 2008-2011
Chair: Built Environment; and Alaskan Way Viaduct & Seawall Replacement Project
Phone: (206) 684-8802
Staff: LaTonya BrownDavid Yeaworth and Dan Nolte
Jean Godden
Jean Godden
Position: 1
In office since: 2004
Current term: 2008-2011
Chair: Finance & Budget; and Budget
Phone: (206) 684-8807
Staff: Tom Van BronkhorstMonica Ghosh and Dawn Wagner Todd
Bruce Harrell
Bruce A. Harrell
Position: 3
In office since: 2008
Current term: 2008-2011
Chair: Energy, Technology & Civil Rights
Phone: (206) 684-8804
Staff: Vinh TangJennifer L. Samuels and Michael Jerrett
Nick Licata
Nick Licata
Position: 6
In office since: 1998
Current term: 2010-2013
Chair: Housing, Human Services, Health, & Culture
Phone: (206) 684-8803
Staff: Newell AldrichLisa Herbold and Frank Video
Mike O'Brien
Mike O'Brien
Position: 8
In office since: 2010
Current term: 2010-2013
Chair: Seattle Public Utilities & Neighborhoods
Phone: (206) 684-8800
Staff: Esther HandySierra Hansen and Sahar Fathi
Tom Rasmussen
Tom Rasmussen
Position: 5
In office since: 2004
Current term: 2008-2011
Chair: Transportation; and Alaskan Way Viaduct & Seawall Replacement Project
Phone: (206) 684-8808
Staff: Brian Hawksford and Maia Harris

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Saving Carkeek Park’s Environmental Learning Center Doesn’t Have To Cost Anything At All!!

The Mayor’s proposed 2011 budget calls for closing Carkeek Park ELC and eliminating all of its public programming.  In addition, it calls for the elimination of most of its staff. 

The budget funds a very small staff at the two remaining ELCs, Discovery Park and Camp Long.  Surprisingly, the remaining staff of fewer than 6 full-time equivalents (FTEs) includes 2 program supervisor positions, while eliminating 2 naturalist positions.

We are not asking the City for any more money to keep 
Carkeek's ELC and its program open!!

Nancy Malmgren proposes eliminating 1 of the program supervisor positions, while retaining the naturalist position at Carkeek Park. The salary savings of approximately $17,000+ would help offset any additional operating costs involved keeping Carkeek Park's ELC open.

If you’re in favor of this approach, please contact the Parks Division Director – Robb CourtneySeattle City Council members - especially Sally Bagshaw - and/or Mayor  Mike McGinn, (206) 784-4000.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Salmon Returning to Carkeek Park

Many visitors to Carkeek Park during the past few days spotted salmon returning to their home spanning waters in Piper's Creek.  

An upwards of 15 chum salmon were counted in the wetlands area of Carkeek Park, which is located  at the west end of the park, south of the train overpass. 

However, as of yesterday (10/27/10), the salmon count was down to 5.  It seems that the recent man-laid large woody debris is blocking the current salmon run.

Large woody debris (sometimes abbreviated LWD) refers to the fallen trees, logs and stumps, root wads, and piles of branches along the edges of streams, rivers, lakes and other bodies of water.  Their intended function is to help stabilize shorelines and provide vital habitat for salmon and other creatures.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thanks, Carkeek Park Volunteers!

Many thanks to a group of Carkeek Park Volunteers who presented our collective concerns about the proposed cuts to the Seattle City Council at yesterday's budget hearing at Seattle City Hall.  Nancy Malmgren, Carey Chaplin, Joan Ritzenthaler, Bill Hagen and Julie Fisco - thank you for being our voice!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

A Petition to Save Carkeek Park to Seattle City Council Members & Mayor Mike McGinn

Dear Readers of this blog, 

Below is a petition prepared by Nancy Malmgren proposing changes to the current budget cuts to Carkeek Park facilities and its public programing as suggested by the Mayor's office.

Nancy asked this petition be posted on this blog and encourages people to weigh in - be it in favor of or in opposition to - her suggested changes.

If Readers wish to join Nancy (and me) in this petition, please do so by adding a comment to this posting.

To Seattle City Council Members and Mayor Mike McGinn:

We, the undersigned, Friends and Neighbors of Carkeek Park, are protesting the planned closure of the Carkeek Park Environmental Learning Center and proposed termination of public programming effective January 2011. 

We feel that Seattle Parks Administrators, Christopher Williams, Acting Superintendent of Parks, and Rob Courtney, Parks Director, can adjust the proposed budget which, as proposed, funds Environmental Learning Centers (ELC) at Camp Long and Discovery Park only, by eliminating two of the three education program supervisors currently assigned to those ELCs.  Those responsibilities could then be used to fund a full-time naturalist at Carkeek Park who would support the current programs and continue the many volunteer activities that help maintain the park and its ecology (see bullet list below).  These programs and volunteer activities keep our citizens informed and involved to better our environment - and they help keep Carkeek a safe place for all park users.

The proposed cuts to Carkeek Park will eliminate the current support staff - a .5 public education program supervisor and 1.0 naturalist - leaving the two buildings at Carkeek Park unoccupied (except for private rentals) and terminating all public and volunteer programs currently offered at Carkeek's ELC.  These programs include but are not limited to:

  • Trail maintenance and development
  • Piper’s Creek orchard care
  • Beach Docent Program
  • Master Foresters Program
  • Salmon Stewards Program
  • Demonstration gardens
  • Preschool environmental environmental education programs
  • Senior environmental education programs

Staff cuts are also proposed to both Camp Long and Discovery Park, but are not as sever as the cuts proposed for Carkeek Park (see below).  In addition, both Camp Long and Discovery Park would continue to employ day staff (a .5 public education program supervisor and a .5 naturalist for Camp Long; two public education program supervisors at .8 and  1.0 employment and a .75 naturalist at Discovery Park).  Buildings at Camp Long and Discovery Park will remain open.

We ask the City Council and Mayor to retain Carkeek's current Naturalist at full-time (1.0 FTE) to continue providing quality direct support programs to the public.  The Naturalist has worked at Carkeek Park for 12 years and has established and maintained many of the successful environmental programs currently operating there.  He has also trained hundreds of volunteers - whose hours total nearly 4500 for the year 2009 alone.  (Estimated volunteer hours at Carkeek for 2010 to date are 4500 plus.).  We propose that Carkeek's Naturalist continue the existing programs in partnership with a .5 time “Restore Our Waters” employee who is currently funded by Seattle Public Utilities. 

We do not want the facilities at Carkeek Park closed.  We, as a Community, have seen Viewlands Elementary School closed and severely vandalized.  Now it is being repaired and preparing for the school to be reopened in Fall 2011.

Please change staffing for the Seattle’s Environmental Learning Centers to retain our full time Naturalist for Carkeek Park.   It is common sense, in such harsh economic times, to reduce extraneous and expensive management and retain quality, less expensive direct service workers such as Carkeek's current Naturalist.

Petition prepared by Nancy Malmgren
October 23, 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

Nancy Malmgren at Holman Rd. QFC Saturday, October 23rd from 11AM to 2PM

Learn more about the proposed cuts to Carkeek Park and its public programs from
 Nancy Malmgren
Director of the Carkeek Watershed Community Action Project 
and long-time supporter of Carkeek Park 

Saturday, October 23rd
 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM
 QFC on Holman Road 
9801 Holman Rd NW Seattle, WA 98117
(206) 783-8888

Nancy will be on hand to answer questions about the proposed budget cuts to Carkeek Park and its public programs.  She'll provide information and contacts for those wanting to voice their concern.

For more about Nancy see:

 Lisa Stiffler's article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer

April 25, 2000

From The Carkeek Park Advisory Council

Dear Neighbors & Park Users,

We felt it important that you know of the impending changes in our neighborhood.

The Mayor is proposing serious budget cuts which, if passed, will have an especially adverse affect on our community. Most significantly, his proposed 2011 budget recommends over $10 million in cuts to Seattle Parks & Recreation, including the loss of approximately 100 full time staff.

We, the the Carkeek Park Advisory Council, are writing to specifically to inform you that the Mayor proposes the closure of Carkeek Park's Environmental Learning Center and canceling all the public programs housed there.   

The proposed change for Carkeek Park is that it will lose all of its day staff, which means both of the park's buildings - including the Environmental Learning Center (ELC) building - will be closed for the foreseeable future.  The ELC building is a certified green structure and is an essential hub of environmental education and community throughout Seattle.  It is outfitted with rain catchment and solar panel systems and was awarded a LEED Gold Award in 2003 by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design

Under the Mayor's current proposal, all public programming run through the ELC building will cease.  Salmon Stewardship, Master Foresters, Beach Docents, Tot Treks/Tyke Hikes, environmental classes, and the like will shut down.  (The ELC would remain open for private rentals, however.)  

The Carkeek Park Advisory Council (CPAC) is a volunteer group that meets monthly to coordinate various school and summer educational programs and support the volunteer working groups that help maintain the trails and historic Piper's Orchard.  This is achieved through the activities of both volunteers and Parks staff.  CPAC is working with Seattle Parks to find ways to maintain all of these programs in the absence of the local Parks staff. Seattle's two other ELCs, Discovery Park and Camp Long, will also lose their public programs although they are impacted to a lesser degree as they will remain open during the day, albeit with fewer staff. The three Park Advisory Councils have recently met to discuss ways to share their reduced resources to help deliver efficient school educational programs and summer camps. Many more discussions will be needed over the coming months as the Parks Department works out how it will manage Seattle's parks, community centers (see below) and the ELCs.

CPAC has expressed much concern over the closure of the Carkeek Park buildings, not least because of the use by neighbors of all ages for information and educational purposes. Seattle Parks have assured us that some grounds maintenance staff will still remain at Carkeek and will have a presence each day. Other options are also being considered but nothing is likely to be decided until the budget has been approved at the end of the year.

If you are concerned about these changes to your beloved parks and neighborhood, please express your concern or provide constructive suggestions to the City through the links at:  (see the options under the "Feedback" section on the left side of the page)

A more complete report on the budgetary impact for Seattle Parks can be found here:

You may also keep up to date with developments on Carkeek Park through a new blog that a concerned neighbor has started:

On a related issue, a number of Community Centers will also be impacted by the Parks budget cuts. Parks have been working hard and come up with a great proposal to re-organize the activities/management of its 25 or so Community Centers. In short, although a number of Community Centers, particularly those in north Seattle, are affected, thankfully no Community Center will be closing is doors. However, both Ballard and Greenlake Community Centers will be moving to a 'limited use' model. Loyal Heights Community Center will take over management of the remaining activities to be held at the Ballard Community Center, while Seattle Parks will be moving much of their administrative activities to Greenlake from South Lake Union (as a Museum is scheduled to move in to their current location).

Many frequent readers of the My Green Lake forum/blog may well be aware of the proposed Greenlake Community Center change. If not, more information on the Greenlake changes can be found at:

As a general call, for those of you who would like to keep abreast of issues that affect the Carkeek Park and its neighborhood or to contribute in either a small or large way to keep Carkeek Park a wonderful place for everyone, please feel free to attend the Carkeek Park Advisory Council meeting(s). These meetings are held on the fourth Monday of every month and are open to the public. As a casual attendee, there is no commitment for prolonged involvement. You can simply come and listen and comment. But if you do have a strong desire and interest in giving back to your community and wish to become an official member of CPAC, then we would be delighted to have you join! Everyone's opinions and views are welcome and appreciated.

Our next CPAC meeting is on Monday October 25th at 7pm in the ELC building.

I hope you will support our parks!

Timothy Cox
CPAC Treasurer

Monday, October 18, 2010

Voice Your Concern At Upcoming Seattle City Council Meetings

Broadview Community Council Meeting

Social time 6:00 – 6:30 PM, program starts at 6:30 PM.

Join Seattle City Council Member Jean Godden other members of our community and voice your concern about the major issues - including the proposed closure of Carkeek Park Environmental Learning Center  and its public programs.   

Jean will be joining us as we meet and greet from 6:00 - 6:30 PM. Bring your neighbors and join us for this important meeting!

Seattle City Council Meeting

Sign-in is at 5:00 PM and the public hearings begin at 5:30 PM.  
Free, accessible parking is available in the South and General Parking Lots.  

Join Seattle City Council members and other Seattle citizens to voice concerns on the major issues  - including the proposed closure of Carkeek Park Environmental Learning Center  and its public programs.