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September 8, 1997

Local News

At-risk teens clean Tracy Owen Park

  by Andrew Walgamott
   Two county agencies and more than a dozen at-risk youths have teamed up to clear brushy, overgrown shoreline at Tracy Owen Station Park. Given shovels, picks, clippers and rakes, troubled kids referred from the King County Department of Youth Services to county Parks and Recreation began clearing blackberries and noxious weeds to improve waterfront access to the north shore of Lake Washington at the park.
   Work began Aug. 28.
   When the teenagers finish work at Tracy Owen by the end of the year, the project will open up 100 yards of shoreline. The park borders the Burke-Gilman trail near the Lake Washington Grill and Tap House. "It'll make a big difference at this park. Now, you can't get to the water. When it's done, you will," Al Dams, King County Parks and Recreation spokesman said.
   Some kids participating in the partnership are paying off their debt to society for various offenses they've committed while others are being paid to work during the summer for the county.
   Linda Kalena, parks youth program coordinator, said the Parks and DYS effort provide a supervised setting for kids to perform community service and also receive on-the-job training. She said more than 160 kids have worked 4,000 hours this summer picking up litter, maintaining buildings, lining ballfields and removing graffiti at parks throughout the county. The partnership has grown since its inception in June of 1996. "It's an excellent program. That's why it's expanding," Kalena said.
   Terry Brady, who supervises the youths, said the kids did work that might not be done regularly. "It's a good use of a captive audience, if you will," Brady said. He added that the work gave the teens a chance to do something constructive, and said the program was cost effective and benefited the public. Brady said he had a good crew. "As a whole, they're really good workers. But they're doing the nasty stuff, too," he said.
   At the clean-up kick-off, King County Executive Ron Sims and Councilmember Maggi Fimia offered advice and thanks to the kids.
   "On behalf of the folks living around the park, we thank you," Fimia told the youths.
   Sims told them determination took him from scrubbing toilets to the county executive's post.