SEQUIM — The city is seeking two grants to help pay for installation of new playing courts and improve its ballfields.
The City Council gave the go-ahead in a 6-0 vote with Councilman John Miller absent Monday night to partially fund new tennis courts at $60,000 in Carrie Blake Park and make improvements in Dr. James Standard Park for Sequim Little League at $20,000.
They approved a resolution to designate the funds from the 2017 budget to meet the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office’s May 2 grant deadline.
Joe Irvin, assistant to the city manager/parks manager, said city staff intends to combine proposed projects in Carrie Blake Park at a cost upward of between $770,000 and $800,000 to construct pickleball courts at about $215,000, tennis courts at about $270,000, a new southern road access to the park for about $260,000 and move the playground equipment for $25,000.
By doing this, the city can cover the projects with a 50 percent matching grant.
Between city contributions, pledges from clubs and pending grants, the city has $251,000 of the $400,000 needed.
Pickleball and tennis enthusiasts and city officials plan to seek the remaining $149,000 funding from private sources, Irvin said.
“The more funding you can show that’s solidified, the better off you’re going to do,” said City Manager Charlie Bush.
Irvin said the region’s grants coordinator told him a few months ago that “it’s attractive if we can pull together more users in this manner.”
City staff intends to work similarly with Sequim Little League to improve the Dr. James Standard Park by combining $20,000 from the city with $5,000 from the Little League to seek a matching $25,000 grant.
Volunteers with the Little League helped create a list of needed projects for the city such as adding perimeter fencing and flood lighting, repairing field fencing, bleacher replacement and creating a docent site.
Lighting is proposed to minimize crime, Irvin said. No lighting is proposed for nighttime play at either park.
Dr. James Standard Park is outside of the city limits. The property was donated by Maurice and Frances Sherk in 1975.
If the city isn’t awarded the grants, Irvin said, the projects remain ongoing. City staff and interested parties will continue to seek funding and he’ll propose designated funding rollover to 2017.
Some of the projects have smaller gaps to being fully funded, Irvin said, but certain aspects need to be constructed first, such as a portion of the proposed road that extends from Blake Avenue to Rhodefer Road with a roundabout in the middle that leads to the new tennis courts and Guy Cole Mini-Convention Center.
This road proposal stems from the Carrie Blake Park Master Plan that advises city staff close the current entrance and shift traffic to the new route between the Sequim Skate Park and Trinity United Methodist Church.
Irvin also advised the City Council that once Keeler Park is paid off at the end of the year, funds from the park impact fee’s end balance could go to tennis court construction.
Currently, Sequim High School hosts the town’s only public tennis courts with five.
Pickleball players use the Sequim Community School courts and the Sequim unit of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula.
The city’s 2016 capital parks projects budget is significantly larger than in the past. No money was budgeted in 2012; $79,562 was budgeted in 2014 and $226,000 is set aside this year.
Despite supporting the motion, City Councilman Ted Miller said he was skeptical of providing funding without more Clallam County support.
He has previously said the city’s park users predominately come from outside city limits.
________Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.