Ground broken on Covington Community Park site
By KRIS HILL
Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor
June 28, 2012 · Updated 9:23 AM
City officials marked a significant moment in history Tuesday by breaking ground on Covington Community Park.
Earlier in June the city hired Maple Valley-based contractor Goodfellow Brothers to build the first phase of the project, according to Covington Parks and Recreation Director Scott Thomas.
“Shortly it’s going to be in the hands of the construction contractor, then it will be in the hands of our maintenance staff,” Thomas said. “It’s really been 10 years in the works. That’s not a long time for a project, that’s not unusual, but that speaks to the dedication and tenacity of the city council to continue making it a priority for a long period of time and stay focused long enough to make it actually happen.”
Work will begin soon on a full size grass soccer field, parking and a mile of trail system, some of which will be paved while the rest will be gravel and all will be ADA accessible. Goodfellow Brothers should be done no later than the middle of October, Thomas said.
Covington Community Park is located at 180th Avenue Southeast and Southeast 240th Street.
The site is about 30 acres and is a collection of four parcels purchased by the city in 2003 and then brought into King County’s urban growth boundary in 2004. It was annexed into the city in 2008.
Construction will have a $1.6 million price tag while the total project cost comes in at $2.26 million.
“With a great amount of work and good luck,” Thomas said, the funding came together.
Money for the project came from a number of sources, he added.
Covington’s utility tax, which the City Council increased shortly before Thomas began working for the city in mid-2008, helped.
“We were able to set a side a big chunk of that for construction for several years,” Thomas said. “It also comes from another utility tax increase in November and that tax increase was specifically dedicated to Covington Community Park so forevermore there will be money to maintain the park.”
Thomas said the representatives from the 47th Legislative District also played a significant role in acquiring $700,000 for the project and hanging onto it through several legislative sessions in the midst of a recession.
That money came in 2008 and was the seed money, Thomas said, “The driving force which allowed this project to get off the ground.”
According to information provided by State Sen. Joe Fain’s staff, a $500,000 construction grant for the new park came from the state’s 2011 capital budget as part of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation program’s funding package for creating and preserving local and state parks.
Covington is within the 47th which Fain, who is a Republican, represents.
“This park will not only add high quality recreational facilities, giving residents of all ages a great place to enjoy the outdoors, but will also serve as an important foundation for community events and gatherings,” Fain said in a statement. “Getting this project to the construction phase has been a long process, but it clearly demonstrates the resolve and dedication of the Covington City Council, Mayor (Margaret) Harto, and the City of Covington Parks and Recreation Department, who saw this through by investing the time and resources necessary to make it a reality.”
In addition, the city received $155,000 from the King County Parks levy, along with $75,000 in a King County Youth Sports Facility Grant.
Kent Youth Soccer, after the field is complete and ready to play on next spring, will provide goals for it which saves the city about $12,000.
“That contribution was also really helpful when we were competing for grants, to have that partnership with the youth soccer organization,” Thomas said. “I’ve been doing this park development work for 12 or so years now, that’s doing really well in terms of grants, you normally wouldn’t count on having that much outside funding.
That demonstrates how high of a need there is out here that that many people are willing to contribute to the project. And it demonstrates that the community beyond our borders is willing to make a significant investment.”
As the dirt settles on the groundbreaking, Thomas said, and thoughts move toward a ribbon cutting for the trail system in the fall along with opening the soccer field next year he is pondering the next big thing for parks and recreation in the city.
“That’s the question I’m asking, what do I work on next because quite literally since the day I started this has been the focus of what I’ve been doing,” he said. “I’m asking other people, I would love to hear from the public, from the community, what is important to them. There’s plenty to choose from, for sure, we have a small staff and very limited funds … it would be hard to take on anything right now. We would have to be thoughtful about what we would choose then we would have to find the funding to pursue that choice.”
Contact Covington Reporter Assisitant Editor Kris Hill at firstname.lastname@example.org or (425) 432-1209, ext. 5054.