Lake Wilderness Park in Maple Valley needs renovations, relies on state funding
By TJ MARTINELL
Covington Reporter Reporter
May 19, 2011 · Updated 12:52 PM
The master plan to renovate and expand the Lake Wilderness Park hangs on the final verdict of the state legislature’s budget, which may or may not allocate enough funds to continue forward.
“It’s all about funding,” said Greg Brown, Maple Valley Parks and Recreation director.
In the meantime, issues with the existing park are being felt by those who use Patrick’s Field, which is currently flooded due to the heavy rainfall.
Built in 2001, the city acquired the park in 2003, but has been having problems with it due to Jenkin’s Creek, which runs directly next to it. The field and creek are at the same level, which causes the excess water to drain into the field.
At the moment, there are puddles of water in the infield, while the outfield is peppered with mud.
According to Brown, the field is unusable approximately six to seven months out of the year because of the lack of drainage.
“Every year it just depends on how much rainfall we get, as well as the snowfall,” he said.
He added that the record level of precipitation hasn’t helped.
This has been especially difficult for the Maple Valley co-ed softball league. Patrick’s Field is the only baseball field in the corporate limits of the city, so they are forced to go to other cities to have their games or practices.
Mark Ratcliffe, recreation manager for Maple Valley, says that unless the weather improves, the season will be delayed and possibly postponed.
“It’s always an issue during the spring,” he said. “Ever since we started the league in 2004. But this is probably one of the worsts years we’ve had.”
Ratcliffe stated that he has already looked into using fields in King County parks, the Tahoma School District, and Ravensdale, but all of them have been completely booked, and Lake Francis Park suffers from the same flooding as Patrick’s Field.
At the recent Pitch n’ Run event held at Patrick’s Field, the kids were unable to use the infield entirely and had to play in the outfield.
Raticliffe stated that people are even beginning to use other parts of the park to play softball.
Generally, the 15-team softball league likes to begin practicing in March or April. If they are unable to use it they have to drive into Covington or other cities to practice.
The teams are scheduled to play on it through August, but the uncertainty of the weather makes it impossible to tell whether or not that will actually be the case.
Raticliffe explained that the league might be forced to start in September, but without any lights it would add more problems for the adults, who play at night.
As part of the master-plan, the field would be filled with dirt to raise the elevation. The predicament, however, comes from the infrastructure on the field. The backstop, the concrete, the bleachers and even the irrigation system in the outfield would have to be pulled out and completely rebuilt, a process that is both costly and beyond what the city can afford to at this time.
“You’re going to have to wipe and everything and start over,” Brown said. “We can’t do a really lot about (the flooding) unless we raise it, and its an expensive scenario.”
The master plan is estimated to cost $20 million.
Brown warned, however, that the estimate is based on figures several years old. Depending on the economic situation, those costs could go up or down, though typically the costs go up.
“If the economy rebounds...if it (the phase) happens in 2025, who knows what the costs will be?” he asked.Contact Covington Reporter Reporter TJ Martinell at email@example.com or 425-432-1209 ext. 5052.