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Kirkland News Room

City Council to Decide Summer Parks Operations and Programming to Slow COVID-19 Spread and Meet Human Service Needs at May 19 Meeting

Media Contact:
Kellie Stickney
Communications Program Manager
(425) 979-6562


The City Council held an emergency executive session last night to discuss new information from the City Attorney and the Parks Director regarding liability issues around summer use of Kirkland’s athletic fields by youth sports.  In light of this new information, the City Manager will be presenting an amendment to Section 10 of Resolution R-5424 which provides direction on summer athletic field use.  The amendment incorporates feedback from Councilmembers to the City Manager over the past week.  The amendment would fund regular maintenance of athletic fields throughout the summer, and would allow the City to rent and schedule fields for youth sports organizations following the Governor’s approval of Phase 3 of his “Safe Start” re-opening plan.  Funding would come from the park levy or other revenue sources that cannot otherwise be used for human services or business support.  The amendment would also require that any organization that rents fields must implement safety plans that comply with social distancing and health directives of the State of Washington and Public Health: Seattle and King County.  In addition, the amendment would require any organization that rents fields to provide insurance and indemnify the City for liability associated with the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.  Finally , the amendment would require the Parks Department to reserve time on all fields for unstructured free play so that all members of the community may use the fields.  The City Manager will be recommending that the Council approve the amendment.

KIRKLAND, Wash. – During their May 19 meeting the City Council will vote on a resolution implementing strategies for reopening parks facilities and summer programming that respond to community concerns, human service needs, and public health and safety requirements to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

Following Governor Jay Inslee’s May 1 announcement of his four-phased “Safe Start” reopening Washington plan, the City Council held two emergency meetings on Friday, May 8 and Tuesday, May 12 to evaluate how the Parks and Community Services Department could best serve the needs of the community during summer time while also helping slow the spread of COVID-19. During the meetings the Council evaluated potential summer programs, facility and field rentals and events against guiding criteria, including: protecting community and employee health and safety; community needs during the pandemic; new financial challenges faced by the City from the pandemic; staff capacity to support programs and services; and creating certainty for families, organizations and vendors to plan.

The Council and City Manager developed preliminary recommendations for reopening restrooms and sports courts and offering new virtual programming. In response to community concerns, the recommendations include reallocating recreation staff to support social distancing throughout the summer at crowded waterfront parks. The recommendations also make City facilities and recreation staff available to support food and sheltering programs for low income families and people experiencing homelessness. Finally, the recommendations include restricting summer programming, facility, and field use to slow the spread of the virus and save money by avoiding hiring summer staff. These summer operation recommendations are set forth in proposed Resolution 5424 that will be voted on at the May 19 Council meeting. The Council is seeking public feedback on the preliminary recommendations and the resolution.

Supporting Community Needs

As part of the proposal City recreation staff and Green Kirkland Partnership staff will be reallocated to serve as parks ambassadors and to support ongoing or emerging parks monitoring and human service needs during all “Safe Start” phases this summer. Parks and Community Services staff may offer virtual programming free of charge during the summer, including online instructional programs, art and science events, and virtual community-building social, cultural and athletic events.

“Safe Start” Phase 1

Parks, trails, beachfront parks, dog parks, docks and piers, Marina Park moorage, boat launches, the Marina Park restroom and the cemetery are currently open. These decisions comply with Phase 1 of the Governor’s “Safe Start” reopening plan. All open parks and facilities will remain open throughout the summer consistent with Phase 1 guidelines.

“Safe Start” Phase 2

When Phase 2 of the Governor’s “Safe Start” reopening plan is authorized, Parks & Community Services will reopen all public park restrooms, picnic shelters, tennis and pickleball courts and may allow park vendors to operate in City parks.

“Safe Start” Phase 3

When Phase 3 of the Governor’s “Safe Start” reopening plan is authorized, Parks and Community Services will reopen all park playgrounds, park pavilions, sports courts for basketball and volleyball, and allow informal use of athletic fields. Staff may also offer “Pop-up” programming in the parks.

Summer Facility Closures and Program Cancellations Through September 1, 2020

• The Peter Kirk Pool shall be closed for the summer season.
• The Peter Kirk Community Center and the North Kirkland Community Center shall be closed for public use through September 1, 2020 except to provide selected senior services and support for human service needs.
• All public, private and non-profit special events that use City facilities and infrastructure are cancelled through September 1, 2020. Special events may be rescheduled after September 1 if authorized by the Governor’s “Safe Start” reopening plan.
• Green Kirkland Partnership restoration events are suspended until September 1, 2020.
• All current parks recreational programming is cancelled through September 1, 2020 to allow City recreation staff to prepare for COVID-19 modified programming after September 1.
• Formal athletic field scheduling and rentals by organized sports leagues and programs are suspended through September 1, 2020.

The agenda for the May 19 meeting will be available on the City website prior to the meeting. The meeting can be viewed in real time via the live stream on the City website, and is televised on Comcast Cable Channel 21 and Frontier Cable Channel 31.

As always, the Kirkland City Council welcomes public involvement at its meetings and would like to encourage community members to take advantage of its available options for remote participation. Public comment can be provided in advance by email to Public comment can also be provided by leaving a voicemail at (425) 587-3090.

Comments received by 3 p.m. on either the voice or email accounts will be played or read into the record during items from the audience, subject to the Council protocol of a limit of three speakers on each side of a particular issue, for a maximum of three minutes each. Comments received on these accounts after 3 p.m. on the day of the Council meeting will be provided to the Council the following day for their consideration, and copies placed in the meeting packet file.

Council will accept live spoken commentary under 'Items from the Audience' at the May 19 regular meeting via a Zoom computer or telephone connection. Comments will be subject to the Council protocols mentioned above and may be superseded by prior commentary received via the published voice and email links. Please call 425-587-3190 and leave a message before 5 p.m. on the day of the Council meeting with any questions, and the City Clerk's Office staff will return your call.