Council kicks in city money to upgrade sports fields

July 21, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 6:05 p.m. July 21, 2009

Since Issaquah Youth Lacrosse was founded in early 2004, teams have played on fields in Bellevue and Sammamish — but not in the organization’s namesake city.

By next spring, however, founders Matthew Balkman and Scott Wiley could be scheduling games on new all-weather, lighted fields in the Issaquah Highlands.

City Council members approved a finance package to improve a pair of sports fields at Pad 3 in the highlands’ Central Park last night.

Balkman and Wiley asked council members to vote for the measure.

“We are part of the fastest-growing youth sport in America, and Issaquah has become a dominant force in that,” Balkman said. “We need fields.”

Lighted, all-weather fields for lacrosse and soccer leagues could materialize by spring 2010. Crews will replace soggy, grass fields with artificial turf and install sports lighting.

City Council members accepted a $100,000 donation from the Issaquah Soccer Club and a $500,000 state grant to help pay for the $1.9 million project. In addition, the project received a $50,000 King County youth sports grant. The council also agreed to kick in about $166,000 of city money to improve the field.

Officials awarded a construction contract to A1 Landscaping & Construction, of Snohomish, to complete the field improvements. City Parks & Recreation Director Anne McGill said work could begin as early as next week.

After the measure passed with a 7-0 vote, applause erupted in the meeting chamber packed with youth sports organizers, parents and city parks officials.

Ahead of the vote, Issaquah Soccer Club Vice President Ed Evans encouraged the council to kick in city dollars to pick up the amount not covered by the soccer club donation and grants.

“We know that there is a shortfall, but we don’t think it’s too much of a shortfall,” he said. “We deeply, deeply want you to move forward with the second turf field on Pad 3 in Central Park.”

After the meeting, Evans presented Mayor Ava Frisinger with a $100,000 check. Balkman told council members that Issaquah Youth Lacrosse would donate and maintain lacrosse goals and nets for the overhauled Central Park fields.

Talus resident Danielle Githens, a mother of two young boys, said she looks forward to the arrival of new sports fields.

“Our community has been talking about building turf fields for so long now,” she said. “We’re so close when you look at the dollars, the fact that construction costs have actually gone down recently, the grants that have come in, the pledge from the soccer community. We’re just so close and it would really be a shame to walk away.”

City Council members voted in October to spend about $1.6 million of park bond money to design and develop a single lighted, all-weather playing field at the highlands park. City staffers then successfully sought state grants to pay to overhaul a second Central Park sports field.

City dollars for the fields come from a parks bond overwhelmingly passed by Issaquah voters in November 2006.

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2 Responses to “Council kicks in city money to upgrade sports fields”

  1. Matthew Balkman on July 22nd, 2009 12:52 pm

    Cheers to the City Council and Parks Department!!! Thank You!!!

    Squeaky wheels get the grease. Thank you to the community that has “squeaked” to make this happen and have supported this long overdue need for our city. These will be Issaquah’s first artificial turf fields; we are way behind our neighboring cities in the development of fields. Although we have many many families with active kids in our community, that is not who is vocal to the City Council and others on issues.

    MY PLEA – Parents and others that care about athletics; while you are busy driving your kids to and fro, please pay attention and engage in opportunities to build athletic facilities and active parks. We are blessed with a plethora of passive parks and open space in our area and need to keep squeaking to keep all focused on building additional athletic infrastructure for our growing youth population.

  2. Joe Forde on July 22nd, 2009 9:07 pm

    Many wonderful people pitched in and contriubted to the debate over building new sports fields for Issaquah. Dedicated parks supporters on the Council such as Fred Butler and Eileen Barber helped steer the debate on cost and location so that the final decision was a good one.

    The need for good all-weather sports fields began back in 1999 but only gained attention in 2005 when public hearings on the Issaquah Park bond put the need for sports fields in focus. Despite a heated debate over items to be included in the Park Bond, it passed with the support of both the Issaquah Soccer Club and LaCrosse Club.

    We must also credit Issaquah Parks & Rec for coming up with a good design and bringing in the bids at an affordable price for the new fields. Parks & Rec’s has a talented and dedicated staff that worked behind the scenes to obtain grants and evaluate every aspect of the project to come up with a winning solution.

    The new all-weather turf fileds at Central Park in the Highlands will arguably be the most beautiful soccer fields in America due to the stunning mountain vista and surrounding forrest. Many Soccer Moms will also appreciate having safe fields close to home that make for a better community feeling.

    On behalf of the Issaquah Soccer Club and the thousands of kids that donated a portion of their registration fee each year to make this project a reality, we sincerely thank the Issaquah City Council for responding to the need for new fields. We are forever grateful.

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