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Seattle Community Centers Are Counting Heads

Meghan Walker

Seattle community centers this week started counting the number of people coming through their doors. The city is in a tight budget crunch. Depending on what the Parks Department finds, some centers might close. Or, some programs may be discontinued. KUOW's Meghan Walker has the story.


At the Ballard Community Center, just inside the front door, a big white board reads, "Please sign in, we count on you." The 'we' is the Seattle Parks Department. Visitors are asked to sign in on a clipboard with their age and initials.

It's 11:00 a.m., and the center has been open just over an hour. Already, 36 people have signed in.

Mark Braden is here with his daughter. They've just left the tot room, and they're looking for her shoes. I asked him what he likes most at the Ballard center.

Braden: "Keep the gym open, definitely, definitely the gym she likes that a lot, and she likes it in here too, but I like her in the gym because she burns off a lot of energy running around in there."

The city's community centers have taken a $2 million cut this year. Since the beginning of January, hours have been shortened and staff has been cut back. The Parks Department says the centers aren't bringing in enough money to cover their costs. The City Council wanted to know more about how the community centers are operated.

Dewey Potter is with the Parks Department.

Potter: "One of the things they believed that we needed to do in order to have good data was to count people. We're asking people to sign in, just to indicate their age group and how often they come to the facility."

After two weeks, the department will decide whether to extend the sign–in program. The department will then issue a report to the City Council this summer.

For KUOW News, I'm Meghan Walker.

© Copyright 2011, KUOW

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