Meeting Current Needs

SPR’s Strategic Plan lays out priorities and direction for the department over a 13-year period. SPR paused implementation planning when we pivoted to emergency pandemic response in early 2020. Over the past 18 months, Seattle has experienced dramatic change – a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, racial reckoning, economic downturn, and increasing impacts of climate change.

Many of SPR’s core services bring people together to share space and build community. To support the community in response to the crises of 2020 and help shape our short-term budget priorities and operations, we are seeking to engage with communities we serve about how their needs have shifted since the pandemic. We need to better understand how community needs and priorities have changed, particularly for those disproportionately impacted by these crises.

Watch the video below to hear more from Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesús Aguirre about our Strategic Plan implementation effort and why we are checking back in with communities we serve.

Recovery Priorities

Here are some of the ways SPR sees a role for our services and programs in responding to these crises, and examples of recent project, programs, and activities that support this response. We are seeking feedback from you to help inform how we deliver services to meet community needs.

A Black Lives Matter sign painted on a building at Cal Anderson Park

Racial Reckoning

We need to challenge and change institutional barriers that perpetuate harm, including those that our own institution has participated in, to center equity in our decision making and service delivery.

In the Community

SPR uses tools like the City of Seattle’s Race and Social Equity Index to help identify priority locations for outdoor programs like Rec’N The Streets and to deliver equitable park maintenance service.

On Our Team

In 2021, all SPR staff are participating in a comprehensive curriculum about anti-racism, including regular small group discussions across job classification and function.

A Families cooling off at the Northacres Spray Park.

Climate Change

We must do our part to address the global environmental crisis by reducing our carbon footprint and helping the most vulnerable communities we serve adapt to more extreme conditions.

In the Community

SPR has opened our community centers with air conditioning as cooling centers for residents in extreme heat events. For example, during the record-setting heat wave in late June 2021, SPR opened the International District/Chinatown, Rainier Beach, and Northgate community centers to help residents stay cool.

On Our Team

Our maintenance staff have recently shifted to using battery-powered leaf-blowers in our downtown parks, and we continue to explore opportunities to electrify our fleet and equipment.

Staff and a resident participating in a food pickup program.

Public health and well-being

We can protect staff and communities facing public health crises by addressing physical and emotional isolation, as well as limited access to recreational activities, which disproportionately threaten the health of people in marginalized communities.

In the Community

SPR responded to social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic by shifting our annual Big Day of Play event to a fully virtual platform in 2020 and a hybrid virtual/in-person model in 2021.

On Our Team

SPR facility maintenance and recreation staff have rearranged schedules, developed safety plans, and identified new training protocols to prepare SPR spaces for emergency services like shelter operations, childcare, and vaccination sites.

A member of Seattle Parks and Recreation's maintenance team washing a picnic area.

Economic recovery

We can responsibly steward limited public resources and invest in economic opportunity for communities we serve.

In the Community

Recognizing the financial strain the pandemic posed on tenant organizations renting space in our facilities, SPR provided significant rent relief to tenants offering services to the public. This included almost $1.8 million of rent relief to 79 tenant organizations across our system.

On Our Team

Our 2020 and 2021 budget proposals and revisions employed a staff-centered approach to enable us to prepare to ramp public services back up quickly, while providing employment stability for regular Seattle Parks and Recreation staff. These decisions required a reevaluation of our capital budget with reductions made utilizing equity analysis tools to minimize impacts to projects in historically underserved communities.