News

Playground in the works for city's Boise Creek Park

County grant is turning city's hope into reality

By Brenda Sexton

The Courier-Herald

With a recent grant from King County and matching funding from the city of Enumclaw, Boise Creek Park will soon have more to offer than baseball fields.

According to Enumclaw Parks and Recreation Director John Keates, a playground at the popular city six-plex has been on the city and park board's books for some time. Without cash, however, plans were stagnant.

"We were just looking for a funding source," Keates said. "So many people and families go there. Being adjacent to the picnic area will be a nice addition, too."

In December, King County awarded $829,094 in Youth Sports Facility Grants to organizations throughout the county that promote youth sports, including school districts, suburban cities and community groups. The grants, as large as $50,000, will be used to build new or renovate ball fields, playgrounds, a climbing wall, a rowing facility, a running track, tennis courts, ball courts, mountain biking track and a skateboard park.

Enumclaw, which applied for the grant with Enumclaw Youth and Family Services, received $25,000. Keates said the city council included a matching $25,000 in this year's budget.

Keates said the money will buy a modern play structure for the Rotary picnic area. The concept, he said, is still unknown but will include, like most city parks, a border with fall-zone material and a walkway from the parking area that is handicap accessible.

This is not the first time Enumclaw has received money from YSFG. A similar grant partially funded the recent addition at the city's skateboard park.

"These activities are vitally important to keeping kids off the streets, building self esteem, teaching teamwork and promoting good health," King County Executive Ron Sims said in a press release announcing the grants. "By leveraging these grant funds that come from car rentals in King County, with additional funds this year from the sale of surplus property, we are able to continue improving recreation opportunities for our kids. By partnering with these worthy organizations we are able to do more than any of us could do alone."

Administered by the King County Department of Natural Resources and Parks, the Youth Sports Facility Grant (YSFG) program is funded and sustained through a quarter of 1 percent tax on car rentals. Organizations receiving funds must agree to match the grant money.

While revenues have traditionally come solely from car rental taxes, King County this year approved the sale of one of its last remaining parcels on the former Kingdome site, with proceeds of roughly $400,000 going to support a YSFG endowment. The county is also looking to sell another building west of Qwest Field in 2005, with proceeds also going to the YSFG fund.

More than $7 million in grants have been awarded since the program's 1993 inception, resulting in nearly 200 new or renovated youth sports facilities.

Keates anticipates the playground to be completed this spring or early summer.

Brenda Sexton can be reached at bsexton@courierherald.com.

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