Thursday, April 26, 2007

Crosscut on Daylighting Seattle's Parks Department

In search of a new Seattle parks superintendent, City Hall is promising transparency and openness

By Paul Andrews

Shaping, opening up, and daylighting foliage are specialties of Seattle Parks and Recreation, especially this time of year. The department seems less welcoming of the same approach applied to decision-making.

Plenty of landscape awaits work this season, including finding a new superintendent, replacing three Board of Park Commissioners members, and figuring out what to do when the Pro Parks Levy expires next year. All the while trying to accommodate increasingly insistent neighborhood and parks advocates who feel burned by controversies involving Magnuson, Woodland, Gas Works, Loyal Heights, Occidental, and other parks.

It all spells big culture change for a traditionally benign agency used to operating away from the public eye. But with the City Council strengthening oversight of the superintendent (through last November's city charter amendment) and deciding to appoint three commissioners, change seems inevitable.

So far, the reconfigurations are proving a bit rocky.
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