Council congratulates Eagle Scout for hard work, approves ARPA-funded recreation scholarship

Eagle Scout Matthew La Pere received multiple awards Monday night for his hard work.

The Mountlake Terrace City Council honored new Eagle Scout Matthew La Pere at its Monday, March 6 business meeting prior to approving multiple city matters.

Mountlake Terrace Parks and Facilities Superintendent Ken Courtmanch introduced La Pere to the council and discussed his Eagle Scout project.

“Since Matthew enjoys disc golf, he was interested in a project that involved the disc golf course at Terrace Creek Park,” Courtmanch said.

According to Courtmanch, La Pere’s vision involved moving a few of the holes to improve the course’s playability and ensure better safety of other park-goers who might get hit with flyaway discs.

La Pere was approved for his project but due to multiple obstacles, it took him over a year and a half to finish. Courtmanch said in addition to poor weather and the physical work of actually moving the holes, the area of La Pere’s project required him to submit a State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA) application. The application identifies and analyzes environmental impacts associated with governmental decisions, such as providing permits for disc golf course modifications.

“Matthew stuck with it and was able to complete his project last October,” Courtmanch said. “He coordinated all the volunteers, received donations for all of the materials and he even completed the first draft of the SEPA application himself.”

In the end, La Pere moved two of the disc golf holes on the course, which better utilized the playing space and made the course more rigorous.

The City of Mountlake Terrace presented La Pere with a certificate of appreciation for his hard work and dedication to making the city a better place. In addition, Sally Buckingham, a local chapter member of the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution, presented La Pere with an American flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 6 to honor his accomplishment of becoming an Eagle Scout. La Pere also received a special congressional award.

In other business, the council heard from Mountlake Terrace Recreation and Parks Director Jeff Betz regarding a two-year recreation scholarship program the council planned to fund with $10,000 of its American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money.

The current scholarship program, the Michelle Ringler Scholarship, is completely donation-based, Betz said, and because of this, funding availability varies by year. Usually, the scholarship fund has anywhere from $1,500-$4,000 in it. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Betz said the funds have been sitting around the lower end of that range.

The scholarship program is also only available to Edmonds School District children and is limited to $50 per student per quarter, an amount which Betz said is almost useless given today’s cost of living.

Because of this restrictive scholarship system, city staff recommended the council approve the new, limited scholarship program.

“I call this limited term because it is funded with ARPA so it would be for two years only,” Betz said.

Since the scholarship will be funded with ARPA dollars, staff also recommended the eligibility pool be limited to Mountlake Terrace residents only. The allotted amount would be $250 per person per calendar year.

Staff also suggested that the council limit the eligible candidates to students under 18 years of age who qualify for free or reduced lunches, adults with documented disabilities and seniors over 60 years of age.

Betz said a web page would be created where individuals could apply for the scholarship online as well as apply in person.

Councilmember Erin Murray explains her intent behind her amendment.

Councilmember Erin Murray asked Betz why the eligible adult population would be limited to only those with disabilities rather than all adults who sit below the poverty line.

“It was something that we weighed, knowing that there’s really limited funds,” he said. “There’s not really as many adult programs that I think would qualify. There could be some like fitness classes or aquatic classes, so it’s possible. If we wanted to go that route, it’s entirely doable.”

Mayor Pro Tem Bryan Wahl moved to approve the scholarship fund, but Councilmember Murray moved to amend it, opting to include all adults below the poverty line as opposed to only those with disabilities.

Both the amendment and the amended motion passed unanimously.

The council also heard from Betz regarding an extension to an interlocal recreational facilities agreement between the city and the Edmonds School District.

The agreement – which was originally made in 1988 – allows the city and school district to share use at city-owned and district-owned facilities. The city consented in 2018 to include three, five-year extensions to the agreement, Betz said, the first of which expires at the end of 2023.

Mountlake Terrace has recently applied for a Youth Athletic Facilities (YAF) grant through the State of Washington’s Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) and is on track to receive it. 

“RCO requires at least 20 years of an agreement to be between the two interlocal agreement entities,” Betz said. “Our agreement doesn’t extend long enough, so we need to get that pushed out further to receive the money.”

The director said in order to be a candidate for the grant, the city and school district must add an extension to their existing agreement before the beginning of summer.

The proposed amendment would add three additional five-year terms, totaling a 25-year agreement between the parties.

“This really just continues this decades-long partnership between the school district and the city,” Betz said. “It guarantees those ongoing recreational facilities for all of our residents.”

Mayor Pro Tem Wahl moved to approve the amendment, which was passed unanimously Monday night.

— By Lauren Reichenbach

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.

By commenting here you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct. Please read our code at the bottom of this page before commenting.