Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to grab a copy of the Tukwila Parks and Rec Program guide, find the map and listing of parks, hop into your car and visit each location. Sorry, this column will not self destruct in five seconds.
We have 29 parks, trails and playfields, including a couple of cooperative efforts with other communities. Many are what I think of as respite stops. Little spots here and there where one can get away for a break from routine. About 10 parks have substantial amenities. These often require reservations so check the reservations column.
Neighborhood parks are especially important. They are intended to be located within a quarter mile of each neighborhood. Thorndyke and north Cascade View are lacking in this respect. At the moment, there are no prospects for these neighborhoods. There are multiple challenges. The layout of our city limits and barriers like freeways and roads complicate the issue. Sometimes there is literally no property available for park development.
Many wonder about the parking situation at Fort Dent Park given the private partnership with Starfire Sports. Parking is free for residents, with verification of residency (driver’s license). This not the case for Seattle Sounder events. Everyone pays.
The benefits of parks and recreation programs are obvious but let’s consider a few points. Parks help make communities safe and desirable. A recent review of crime statistics in Tukwila revealed that assault and property crimes have a greater incidence in neighborhoods without parks. Not surprisingly, data shows that property values are improved in neighborhoods with parks. This improves the property tax base, strengthens the local economy and attracts new businesses. These are cascading or multiplier economic benefits. We protect our environment and preserve wildlife habitat. We connect our children to nature and introduce them to conservation practices. We provide an outdoor play environment and improve the physical and mental health of all residents, young and old. Finally, parks and recreation programs support social equity in that they are intended to serve the entire community, rich and poor, on a free or affordable basis. What’s not to like?
According to the National Park and Recreation Association (NPRA.ORG), park systems should provide 34 acres of park land per 1,000 residents. As of 2008, Tukwila had 15 acres per 1,000 residents. The Parks, Recreation & Open Space (PROS) Plan is being updated soon and will reflect our long-term needs, desires and plans for parks and recreational programs. What we actually do with the plan will depend on the financial resources Tukwila residents make available. Meanwhile, we can maintain and enjoy the facilities that we have.