Issaquah Soccer Club donates $100,000 for Central Park turf

July 21, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

Dark, soggy, grass sports fields in the Issaquah Highlands could be replaced with all-weather turf and sports lighting, thanks to city park bond dollars and county and state grants.City Council members were set to consider a finance package to improve a pair of sports fields at Pad 3 in the highlands’ Central Park.

A bill headed to the council July 20 asked officials to accept a $100,000 donation from the Issaquah Soccer Club to build a second lighted, artificial turf field at Central Park Pad 3. A $50,000 King County youth sports grant and a $500,000 state grant were also awarded to the project. Officials must vote to accept the state dollars and then authorize city staffers to spend the money.

The measure before the council also recommended for officials to award the $1.9 million project bid to A1 Landscaping & Construction, of Snohomish.

City Parks & Recreation Director Anne McGill presented the package to the Council Services & Operations Committee July 16. She asked committee members to consider spending about $166,000 of park bond money to cover the remaining total for the second field.

The committee sent the proposal to the full City Council, which was scheduled to vote after The Press’ deadline.

City Council members moved the project ahead in October. With a unanimous vote then, the council agreed 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 sought state grants to pay to overhaul a second Central Park sports field.

City Park Board Chairwoman Julie Hjelm said the Central Park improvements are necessary, and that adult and youth athletic leagues are forced to make do with substandard fields.

“We don’t have the space and we don’t have the ability to play well on the space we do have, due to the fact that so many of our kids and adults are destroying the fields,” she said. “They can’t utilize it at the time they need and they can’t utilize it for the length they need. These two fields will provide our community with a new treasure.”

Issaquah voters overwhelmingly passed a parks bond in November 2006. Of the $6.25 million bond total, about $1.1 million was allocated to improve city sports fields. About $1.8 million of park bond money remains, according to city documents.

Councilman Joshua Schaer, a Services & Operations Committee member, asked whether shifting park bond dollars to the sports fields would hurt other Parks & Recreation Department projects.

“I can assure you that it will not impact any other priorities,” McGill said. “I think that the wisdom of doing this at this time is that when you go to do a project like this, it’s wise to take a half-million dollar grant from the state of Washington when it’s being offered to us at this time.”

McGill said it would also make more sense to consolidate construction efforts. Workers will remove grass, grade and ready the site for the installation of artificial turf. Then, crews will improve drainage at the site, and install artificial turf and sports lights.

“It’s better to make that mess all at once,” she said.

McGill said she hopes crews can break ground at Central Park next week. She said the overhauled fields should be complete by spring 2010.

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