Does the Aurora-Licton Springs neighborhood need a community center? Seattle seeks comments

Does the Aurora-Licton Springs neighborhood need a community center?

That’s a question underpinning an investigation Seattle Parks and Recreation is conducting this month.

The online survey is part of a $150,000 feasibility study that City Council President Debora Juarez originally requested for 2020. Juarez represents District 5, which includes most of Aurora-Licton Springs.

Juarez and his colleagues commissioned the study “to assess the recreational and community gathering and meeting space needs” of the neighborhood centered on Aurora Avenue North between North 85th Street and North 110th Street. The study is also supposed to “examine the type of facility that would best meet the needs of the neighborhood and the cost of securing such a facility”.

Aurora-Licton Springs is one of Seattle’s more than two dozen “urban villages” — city-designated areas for shops and apartment buildings. Many urban villages currently have parks and recreation Community centers which host sports, lessons, camps and other activities and services.

“Most have community centers or libraries,” said resident David Osaki. “It’s not something that exists in our urban village.”

Osaki volunteers with the Aurora-Licton Springs Urban Village neighborhood group, which lobbied Juarez to get the study done now.

There are 26 community centers spread throughout the city, including a few a bit closer to Aurora-Licton Springs, such as Green Lake and Northgate. They don’t get much attention in election debates but, Osaki said, “can be the heart and soul” of a neighborhood. Investments in centers can be a barometer of political influence and the fairness – or inequity – of city spending.

Parks and Recreation is currently working on opening a new community center in South Lake Unionplanning to replace the Lake City Community Center with a better version (as part of a housing project) and considering a $100 million replacement of the Green Lake Community Center.

Anyone can answer the Aurora-Licton Springs survey, but the questions are primarily for people who live, work or spend time in the neighborhood.

The survey attempts to gauge the relative popularity of various activities before and during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as jogging, recreational classes, indoor sports, and outdoor sports.

The survey also asks what Aurora-Licton Springs needs most, among options such as teen programs, senior programs, and gym space. And he asks about barriers to accessing community centers in other neighborhoods.

Osaki wonders if the city might be able to repurpose an existing building or site to provide programs and help bring Aurora-Licton Springs residents together, he said.

This coverage is partially underwritten by Microsoft Philanthropies. The Seattle Times maintains editorial control over this and all of its coverage.

Jill E. Washington