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No new community center or pool at Green Lake

New Green Lake complex design released in 2020 will not come to fruition.

No new community center or pool at Green Lake

Parks department scraps $100 million-plus complex rebuild in hopes of a lesser-cost renovation.

When the news rains in Green Lake Park these days, it pours. 

After ruffling Green Lake user feathers by shutting the lake’s Inner Loop Path to bike and other recreational wheels, the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department put one of the city’s most popular recreational areas back in the news recently. This time it announced the department will not replace the 95-year-old Green Lake Community Center or the 67-year-old Evans Pool.  That despite a 2016 report that deemed the facilities past their useful life.

2020 design won’t come to fruition

And despite the parks departments releasing with big fanfare a conceptual design of the 90,000-square-foot replacement project which  incorporated two pools, a new gym, play rooms, an outdoor lounge space and more. The parks department spend $1 million on the design and related surveys.

But with project estimates running as high as $120 million, parks officials now say that a brand new complex is just too expensive. 

Instead of replacing the buildings, Seattle Parks and Recreation Policy Director Michele Finnegan told the Seattle Board of Parks in May that the new plan is to give the site a “fresh feel” by renovating the current center and rethinking the pool structure. With a much lower price tag, renovation would bring Green Lake facilities spending more in line with other community center upgrades. The renewal of Rainier Beach Community Center and Pool, for example, cost $25 million.

A staff good at Macgyvering

At the parks board meeting, Finnegan lauded parks employees for their valiant efforts to keep old buildings running.

The current Green Lake recreational complex is “a really impressive facility for how hard our teams work to keep buildings and sites operational,” Finnegan told board members. “They Macgyver this facility and this pool especially on a regular basis.” Even with its outdated amenities, more than 250,000 people — including many kids and full families — use Green Lake Community each year. That number was lower during pandemic lockdown. The center’s gym, indoor toddler play space, swimming lessons, art and recreation classes and drop-in programs for teens and others pull in kids and parents from across the city.

Finnegan also pointed out that her department has recently learned that Evans Pool’s poured cement roof may be eligible for protected landmark status. That designation that would make it difficult to replace.  

Up for a fight

Still, Seattle City Councilmember Dan Strauss told the Seattle Times this week that renovation alone won’t cut it. He vowed to keep pushing for new Green Lake recreational buildings at Metropolitan Parks Board, which makes final decisions on parks projects and funding.

“I am going to fight to ensure the promises made to the Green Lake neighborhood about the future of the Green Lake Community Center are kept,” Strauss said. “The Parks Department has already completed renovations to this building and the need for additional community space and seismic renovations cannot wait until the next funding cycle. The Parks Department cannot unilaterally scrap this project and as a member of the Metropolitan Parks Board I will be working with my colleagues to gather support for my number one priority, which is renewing and expanding the Green Lake Community Center.

Strauss’ District 6 includes the Green Lake neighborhood. 

Have an opinion on the change? Contact Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation at (206) 684-4075 or email PKS_Info@seattle.gov.

About the Author

Cheryl Murfin

Cheryl Murfin is a certified doula, lactation educator and postpartum doula. She’s the owner of Nesting Instincts Perinatal Services in Seattle.