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FYI Guy

Seattle Times news librarian Gene Balk crunches the numbers

October 3, 2012 at 9:00 PM

Great city parks don’t come cheap

Ready for its close-up: the renewed Denny Park (photo by Gene Balk/The Seattle Times)

In The Seattle Times, Lynda Mapes reports on the transformation of once-seedy Denny Park into a clean and welcoming green space in the city’s urban core.  Just a few years ago, Seattle’s oldest park was the kind of place you’d go out of your way to avoid. Not anymore. Denny Park has been granted a new lease on life, buoyed by its location in the heart of the burgeoning South Lake Union neighborhood.

An urban park, after all, is nothing without lots of people nearby to make use of it, and for many years the area around Denny Park was an overlooked part of town.  But the recent growth there has been dramatic.  The number of people living within a 1,500-foot radius of the park has more than doubled since 2000 to about 3,500, according to demographics data provider AGS. And with the arrival of Amazon’s headquarters, biotech firms, and other employers, the daytime population now stands at more than 9,000 in that same radius of Denny Park.

 

More than 9,000 people work in a 1,500-ft. radius of Denny Park (Image: AGS)

As this historic park is restored to its former glory, it is worth noting that while great urban parks aren’t cheap, Seattleites are willing to pony up.  Among the nation’s 100 largest cities, Seattle ranks third in per capita park spending, according to a 2011 report from the National Trust for Public Land.  Here are the top five cities:

RANK

CITY

TOTAL PARK SPENDING (FY 2009)

SPENDING PER
RESIDENT

1

Washington, D.C.

$224,591,976

$375

2

San Francisco

$228,285,744

$280

3

Seattle

$167,541,163

$272

4

Las Vegas

$146,061,811

$257

5

Henderson, Nev.

$55,508,345

$216

 Source: The Trust for Public Land

And when it comes to staffing our parks system, Seattle tops the list. With 16.6 park employees per 10,000 residents, Seattle is No. 1.   Again, the top five:

RANK

CITY

# REGULAR
EMPLOYEES (FY 2010)

EMPLOYEES PER
RESIDENT

1

Seattle

1,021

16.6

2

Virginia Beach, Va.

671

15.5

3

Oakland, Cali.

608

14.9

4

Irvine, Cali.

305

14.5

5

St. Petersburg, Fla.

350

14.3

Source: The Trust for Public Land

What do you think, Seattleites?   Did you know we were among the biggest spenders on parks in the nation?  Do you think we’re getting our money’s worth?   Feel free to sound off in the comments.

 

Comments | More in Demographics, Public Records | Topics: Parks, Seattle, South Lake Union

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