Op-Ed: Response to Pam Cross's Op-Ed of 6/5/19

Friday, June 7, 2019

By Ginger Hayra Gunn

I think it would be fabulous if we could have a state of the art Community Aquatics Center (CAC) and a complete Senior Center with a commercial kitchen.

I do however, agree with Pam Cross's op-ed (posted 6/5/2019) about other needs.

I appreciate her review of Shoreline Parks' conditions and related political process. These excerpts from her summary are most significant for me:
  • According to the PROS [Parks, Recreation and Open Space] Plan, Essential Park Amenities include children’s playgrounds, picnic areas, trails, and open grass areas for active and passive uses. And natural areas should be generally accessible to all residents. The City does not meet its level of service (LOS) target for providing these amenities within a 15-minute walk to all Shoreline residents.
  • Shoreline has 23 parks, but they are not all treated equitably. 
I think of how much Shoreview Park has to offer, as ideal (other than the Invasive plants along its edges): playground equipment, sports fields, a dog park, real restrooms, ample paved parking, forest, and even tennis courts.

In looking at Zillow's "Recently Sold" homes, in what appears to me to be a 15 minute walk to this park, I see 17 properties with an average sales price of $992,000. I am guessing that most of the families in these homes have cars and could afford to join a club for use of a pool and tennis courts, or could enroll in ice skating, dance classes, martial arts classes, etc.

Because of this, I suspect that Shoreview's amenities... if replicated in less wealthy Shoreline neighborhoods, would be likely to have more positive impact on proximal residents, than they do for the "walkable neighbors" of Shoreview Park.

I don't feel that each park needs to have all the LOS listed amenities (or tennis courts and parking lots), but there needs to be enough to make a walkable park magnetic for its neighbors.

Fee-for-service recreation tends to be less affordable for residents in low income areas, so this is where our parks amenities are most important.

Let's give our financially-challenged residents better proximal options, to support them in getting away from the TV and its common accompaniments... like eating chips, consuming high calorie beverages, and developing Diabetes.

One equity adjustment (if we are going to stick with the projected CAC funding priority) would be to create easy, free, and frequent shuttles across the city and provide free pool passes to families that qualify (or nearly qualify) for the National School Lunch Program.

This, however does not replace the benefit that an appealing, walkable, casual meeting place provides, toward building community and an interest in being active.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I do appreciate our City Servants for the vast amount of work they do and the wealth of goodwill and expertise involved. I particularly commend them for moving toward better public transportation AND acquiring more parks acreage, as it has become available.

As Mark Twain put it, "Buy land, they're not making it anymore."


Anonymous,  June 7, 2019 at 12:43 PM  

Thank you for your thoughful analysis regarding how the parks with the most amentities often being located in the wealthiest neighborhoods. It seems to be a self- fulling loop were the homes acquire value from the parks and the parks near them are given greater import based on wealthy homeowers' ability to demand more than others. It's an interesting cosideration. The survey done by the city did not reveal any information as to which neighborhoods reported preference for the CAC, the parks, or both. I have to wonder what that information would reveal.

I did notice the difference between the CAC and the Parks was a narrow 69% and 68% respectfully, with a 3.6% margin of error. Applying this error factor indicates the reverse results are possible. They could actually be 65% CAC and 72% Parks giving the parks a signifcant edge over the CAC. There is no such thing as an unmanipulated statisic. Note the results are stated in whole percents, yet the margin of error is provided with a decimal. So is the 1% printed in the material .6% that has been rounded up or 1.4% rounded down? The difference is so small it seems important to ask.

We need both. However, I would prefer the School District to build their own competitive pool. It would provide a second pool with priority for the swim teams; provide more access for public use of the CAC pool, lower the cost of CAC; and keep the public pool open instead of closing it down to public swimming during competitions.

As a slow swimmer, I am intimidated by the competative swimmers who churn the water so much it has driven away from using the pool because I always get swamped by the waves they create even beyond the lanes dividers. Additionally, the swim teams often take most or all of the pool during ideal afternoon hours that could therwise be available for others.

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