Big changes are coming to Ballinger Park and Evergreen Playfield, if the city is successful in obtaining grant money for proposed projects, the Mountlake Terrace City Council learned during its Thursday night, April 12 work/study session.
The city has already received a $500,000 state Recreation Conservation Office grant for Ballinger Park, which was converted to a passive park after the nine-hole golf course closed in 2012. Since the park’s Master Plan approved by the city council in September 2015 is a long-term project, improvements will be phased as funding is obtained.
The purpose of the April 12 council presentation by the city’s Recreation and Parks staff was twofold: to update the council on pending park projects funded by the $500,000 state Aquatic Land Enhancement Account (ALEA) grant awarded in 2016, and to request council approval for 2018 state grant applications to help fund both a Ballinger Park playground facility and a new turf field and other amenities at Evergreen Playfield #1.
City Recreation and Parks Director Jeff Betz explained that the 2016 grant money is being used to upgrade the boat launch and boat dock to a floating structure, remove the remaining tire “rip rap” wall, install plantings along the lake shoreline to assist with erosion, improve the fishing pier, replace existing restrooms with ones that are Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant and have outdoor showers and build an asphalt trail from the lake’s north end to the boat launch.
The fishing pier location is still under discussion, Betz said. “We’ve been working pretty closely with (the state Department of) Fish and Wildlife, the fish biologist, and he’s going to come out and so some work early this summer, when we can get the actual lily pad growth, so we can actually see what makes sense for the fishing pier,” Betz explained. “We want fisherman to like this fishing pier. We don’t want it to be in 10 feet of water and nobody to ever catch anything.”
Following Betz’s presentation on the use of 2016 grant money, the council heard from Ken Courtmanch, Parks and Property Management Superintendent, on what projects could be funded using the 2018 grant money the city plans to apply for.
The city is seeking a $250,000 grant from the state’s Land Water Conservation Fund and $250,000 from the Hazel Miller Foundation to purchase a new play structure at Ballinger Park. The city only has one play structure west of Interstate 5, located near the Ballinger Park playfield, and that is scheduled to be removed as part of the Hall Creek habitat enhancement and restoration project.
New play equipment at Lake Ballinger is “essential” to serve residents west of I-5 and also to create “a regional asset along the I-5 corridor,” Courtmanch said.
Plans call for locating the equipment will be located on the east side of Ballinger Park, north of the boat launch, between the Lakeview Drive trail and the lake. “The goal is to create an inclusive play structure that would be the most ADA-accessible piece in Mountlake Terrace, and would include a stable, soft surface, transfer platforms, bridges, access ramps and educational elements that would appeal to all ages,” he said.
Of the $500,000 being requested for the playground equipment, about half of it would be used for an engineered, stable, soft surface pad, Courtmanch explained. “We want it to be ADA accessible and in that area, wood chips or sand just would not work well,” he said. The other half would pay for the play structure itself.
The city had play equipment vendors visit the site so they could develop conceptual renderings of possible structures. The concepts shown to the council were only to demonstrate what could be acquired for the funding amount, Courtmanch explained. A decision on actual play equipment will be made as part of a community involvement process — including a survey of local children — after funding is received.
The city is also working with Congressman Rick Larsen’s office, as well as the Army Corps of Engineers and Lake Ballinger/McAleer Creek Watershed Forum, to fund water quality and quantity improvements at Lake Ballinger, park staff noted.
The grant proposal for Evergreen Playfield #1, which is the dirt field at north end originally developed in 1956, was explained by City Recreation Supervisor Kevin Witte. Bookings at the playfield have decreased significantly in the past decade as all-weather turf fields have grown in popularity, Witte said.
A turf surface would accommodate many sports including youth baseball and softball, plus soccer, flag football, rugby, lacrosse, field hockey and ultimate Frisbee, he said. The only turf surface currently available in Mountlake Terrace is at the high school, and “time on that field is near impossible to get,” Witte added.
The Evergreen Playfield upgrade would cost an estimated $1.5 million and would include $750,000 in grant funding from the state Recreation and Conservation Office, $250,000 in contributions from local users (this includes the Edmonds School District and local youth sports organizations), a $225,000 US Soccer Foundation grant and $175,000 in park impact fees collected in the city.
The proposal also includes replacing 12 wood-pole lights with four LED lights that would illuminate the entire field, with no light spillage into nearby neighborhoods, Betz added.
Councilmember Kyoko Matsumoto Wright asked what type of turf is planned for the field, and the response was artificial turf with a tire crumb rubber infill. “Are we going to get a lot of protesters?” Wright asked, alluding to recent controversies in the cities of Edmonds and Lynnwood when the Edmonds School District included artificial turf for playfield projects.
Betz responded that studies conducted so far have shown “there wasn’t a lot of health risk that happens from crumb rubber.” A major study is being conducted in the State of California, with results expected in June, he said. “When we do go out for bids, we have the option there of a different kind of surface, whether that’s some kind of organic infill material, but there is a cost associated with that,” Betz said. “We’ve been quoted anywhere from $100,000 to $200,000 to $300,000 extra for that material.”
Replied Wright: “I really want to see this happen. But I also don’t want to see the community go after us. it’s always a fine balancing act. I’m going to support it, but I’m just holding my breath.”
Betz and Witte noted that the Evergreen Playfields project so far has received almost two dozen letters of support from the community.
The council is scheduled to adopt resolutions authorizing the grant applications during its Monday, April 16 business meeting. The deadline for state grant applications is May 1, and the city is accepting letters of support for the projects between now and that time to be included in the grant applications. Staff will make technical presentations in Olympia at the end of May, followed by final presentations in August. The list of projects receiving grant awards will be announced Sept. 1. Even if the city receives project grant awards, those projects must be approved by the state Legislature in 2019. The grants would actually be awarded in June 2019.
The council also heard the following reports April 12 that will be on the agenda for approval during its April 16 business meeting:
– A proposal to issue bonds slightly earlier than planned for the new Civic Center campus project, with the goal of saving money on interest. The move is being considered because it’s predicted that interest rates could rise during the coming months.
-A supplemental agreement with contractor KPG for the Main Street design contract. The contract amount, for $29,977.57, will be reimbursed by Sound Transit. It covers design costs for Main Street project elements requested by Sound Transit associated with frontage improvements for a temporary parking lot at 59th Place West, which are part of the light rail project.
-A staff recommendation to renew the city’s lease with the Mountlake Terrace Seniors Group for the Mickey Corso Community Clubhouse at Ballinger Park. Senior Center Executive Director Marlene Maier April 12 reported on her efforts to make the senior center more visible in the community, and to expand its offerings, which now include clogging and crafts classes, a book club, yoga and tai chi. The local South Korean women’s association group will be using the center twice a month for meetings and a fly flshing group formerly located in Edmonds is also moving to the center, she said.
The senior center is also working to upgrade its facilities, she said, and has received a grant to install laminate flooring and also plans to purchase new furniture.
The lease renewal set for Monday’s council agenda is at the same terms as the former five-year lease — a charge of $1,500 a month. The senior center can also get rent credit for capital improvements it makes to the facility. The city retains the right to use the clubhouse’s Lakeview Room for public meetings, open houses, special events or classes at no cost.
Two other items of note on the April 16 agenda: a records management report and a 2018 state legislative update.
Monday night’s meeting will be in interim Mountlake Terrace City Hall, 6100 219th St. S.W., 2nd floor. You can see the complete agenda here.
— By Teresa Wippel