Residents of South Park, a Seattle neighborhood, are one step closer to having a new community recreation area. The Seattle Parks Foundation recently received a $250,000 grant from the Washington State Office of Conservation and Recreation, which will translate into final construction documents for a community-led project.
The project is the renovation of the Puma Playground at Concord Elementary for use by both students in the school and the public when school is not in operation.
The park at Concord Elementary has little greenery, is inaccessible to many in the community, and has drainage problems that make it unusable for most of the year.
However, the grant will transform the field into one that allows children access to recreational opportunities, provides outdoor space for families in the area, and provides schools with more opportunities for outdoor activities.
Rebecca Bear, CEO and President of the Seattle Parks Foundation, said: “We signed up for the community and luckily we won.” Robin Schwartz, a PTA member of Concord Elementary School, said: “Having a sad, brown, muddy field with a few sad little trees around, I think our children deserve more.”
The Seattle Parks Foundation says South Park has 40 square feet of green space per resident, compared with an average of 387 square feet across Seattle. Community members say this is down to fairness and opportunity, something South Park doesn’t always see.
Schwartz says public green space is especially important in a community like South Park, where many people live in multi-family homes.
Carmen Martinez, with Duwamish Valley Youth Core, says many of the children she works with have advocated for this change and now they will see how their efforts will improve the community for years to come. The renovated school park will become a community recreation area, open to everyone.
The Seattle Parks Foundation says it expects to begin construction in the summer of 2024. Seeing this come to fruition will be really huge for the community, said Bear. Community advocacy in South Park has led to new funding for a park renovation project, showing that when a community comes together, funding can be achieved and change can be created.
Washington State Office of Conservation and Recreation grants $250,000 for Puma Playground transformation