Community Members Concerned About Privatizing the Green Lake Community Center
After Seattle Parks and Recreation announced plans to start looking into privatizing the Green Lake Community Center and Evans Pool, community members have expressed serious concerns about the park’s future.
“I’ve been involved with Green Lake, walking around it, kayaking on it, swimming at the swimming pool for the last 37 years,” said neighbor Susan Helf. “We feel it is absolutely inappropriate to transfer management of a publicly owned building to a private entity.”
For years, the popular Green Lake Community Center and Evans Pool have been in extreme disrepair, with a leaky roof that has caused the floor to buckle, outdated boilers and ventilation systems, and no basic improvements to meet the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Parks officials are responding to the long-needed repairs by suggesting that privatizing the facility and partnering with a nonprofit to pay for and manage a new pool and rec center may be the way to go.
Helf and others acted immediately when they learned about the plans, with a Facebook group and community awareness efforts. “We oppose privatization for many reasons,” said Helf. “There would be a lack of accountability and transparency. There would be higher fees, there would be union busting. And there would be a great change in mission and focus,” she told Komo News. Community members are also very concerned that this may be a test case for what could happen to other community centers around the city.
Although the Parks Department declined to comment to news organizations about the proposal, a public bulletin noted that the $25 million cost to replace the Green Lake Community Center and Evans Pool is not affordable.
But that answer doesn’t make sense to tax-paying community members. “Providing community centers, pools, libraries, fire, police those are core missions of the city, and to say that we don’t have the money for this is just outrageous,” Helf said. “I mean what else does the city do but provide those amenities?”
The Parks Department is open to community members’ concerns, and officials have said that this is still in the planning phase and there will be plenty of opportunity for public input.
Featured photo source: Greg Gilbert/The Seattle Times
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