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First phase of Covington Community Park to be done by spring

A project which has been more than a decade in the making will bring the city’s first soccer field to residents in the springtime in Covington.

Work on the first phase of Covington Community Park is nearing completion. Beyond the soccer field is a trail system and eventually, as additional phases are built, the park will have so much more, according to Parks and Recreation Director Scott Thomas.

“I’m working on getting phase two funding,” Thomas said. “The first phase met an important need. The population has grown by 40 percent, but no new soccer fields. That was a pressing need.”

Phase one is critical because it will fill a need that has been one of the highest priorities for residents according to research the city has done in preparing its Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces (PROS) Plan.

“Most of the need here is for little kids,” Thomas said. “So, most of the time (the field) will be broken down into mini fields or micro fields. We can play any level of soccer here, so, it is very versatile.”

Eventually when the money is secured to build the second phase -- and Thomas said that will be no easy task given that the city has poured as much as it can afford into this first phase -- it will have a community event stage which is another major priority residents identified.

“We need a community event space where we can hold free, family events,” 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. It is a short walk from Tahoma High School.

Construction has a $1.6 million price tag while the total project cost comes in at $2.26 million.

Funding came from a variety of sources including grants as well as city dollars, with the City Council approving an increase to the utility tax earlier in the year to ensure funding to cover the costs of maintenance.

“The council really did have to make some hard decisions to get this started,” Thomas said.

It has been an interesting site to work on. The soccer field takes up half of what was formerly a pasture. On the perimeter where some of the trail system exists are wetlands and an intermittent stream.

“This is a hydrologically dynamic site,” Thomas said. “We knew that when we first started, but, now we really know much water flows through this site.”

After a significant fall storm in mid-October, for example, a tertiary retention pond park designers thought would likely get very little use is full to the point of overflowing just south of the soccer field which runs north-south off 240th.

“Dealing with the water has been one of the biggest unanticipated challenges of this site,” Thomas said.

While the soccer field on the site meets one important recreation demand, upgrading the existing trail there while building new trails which connect to the old ones should meet another priority.

“The PROS Plan survey says one of the most popular priorities is walking or jogging,” Thomas said. “We’ve heard the community and we’re trying to respond to those highest priorities.”

Considerable thought has been put into the trail design at Covington Community Park. Designers and contractors have worked to preserve as many of the big trees on the property as possible. The trails have been built so they are ADA accessible with gentle, curving slopes so those with walkers or in wheelchairs can safely enjoy them. Thomas noted the trails were also designed with extensive sightlines and awareness of escape routes for greater safety.

One piece of the new trail system was built along a Bonneville Power Administration power line easement on the southeast portion of the property. It will eventually connect up with another trail that is, at least temporarily, known as the Jenkins Prairie Trail, which will connect up with other trails in the region which could take people from Lake Wilderness through Covington down to Lake Meridian.

That portion of the trail is paved and is capable of handling BPA’s heaviest work trucks, Thomas noted.

Other portions of the trail on the site will have interpretive signs. School field trips or small groups could make use of that feature of the trail, Thomas said.

The trail system is nearly done, Thomas said, likely in the next month or so. He expects the city will host a grand opening sometime next spring or summer with a ribbon cutting and possibly a soccer jamboree.

By then, the grass field, which was planted in early October, will have spent the entire winter growing and developing its root system. Thomas said he could have not asked for better weather for a new soccer field.

Overall, this first phase exists thanks to the groundwork done by his predecessor, Dave Erickson, the efforts of many city staff members, the City Council, representatives from the 47th Legislative District and the input of residents as well as the hours he’s put in, Thomas said.

“I’m really happy with the way the design turned out,” Thomas said. “It’s going to be a really beautiful place.”

 

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