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Ravensdale Park plans move forward

Building a park is no easy task, but the Ravensdale Park Foundation members are making steady progress through creative funding as well as partnerships with King County Parks and community groups.

It began in 2008 when representatives from various organizations such as Maple Valley Youth Soccer and Rock Creek Sports began discussing what they could do to bring more fields to the greater Maple Valley area. Since then, according to the foundation’s website, www.ravensdalepark.org, representatives from other parts of the community such as Maple Valley’s youth football and lacrosse organizations, baseball, fastpitch, as well as King County Parks have met regularly to develop a plan for what will happen at Ravensdale Park.

The plan is to upgrade existing facilities next to the Gracie Hansen Community Center, which is about two miles east of Four Corners.

Planning has begun for the second phase of the fields, to install two new multipurpose fields, which will be a major project that is expected to cost between $5 million and $6 million, according information provided by Rob Nist, who is a member of the foundation’s board representing Rock Creek Sports.

Nist prepared a report on the progress of the project which he provided via email to the Reporter. In the report, Nist wrote that years ago it became clear there was not “a suitable baseball or soccer field operated by either King County or the city of Maple Valley.”

“With over 3,500 kids in our community youth sports programs equally divided between the county and city residents, we recognize that this park alone will only meet a small amount of the overall needs,” the report stated. “With this in mind we have made every effort to accommodate some of every groups’ needs through multipurpose designs. In an effort to have a balanced park, we also set aside 30 percent of the park for open space and passive outdoor activities.”

It took more than a year of meetings to develop and adopt a master plan for Ravensdale Park in large part because it was designed with everyone in the community in mind. Due to the amount of money needed to build all the elements included in the park’s master plan, it will be developed in phases over several years, according to Nist’s report.

RPF members are now looking at funding options for the second phase of the ball fields. Additionally, the foundation is looking at options for the first phase of the recreation area — a grassy area in the center of the park where all of the recreation programs for younger children take place. This area needs improved safety and an upgrade to the quality of the grass.

Joan Burlingame, who helped found Friends of Rock Creek, serves as an advisor to the foundation’s board. She helped raise funds to buy the 10 acres for the community meadow portion of the park in 2004.

“The community said they wanted to have more areas for families and kids to go to recreate,” Burlingame said. “The ballfields and play area at Ravensdale Park really need to be upgraded.”

The first phase at Ravensdale Park converted two fields to synthetic surfaces, which allows for greater usage, according to information on the RPF website. The county provided funding in addition to grant money RPF secured. When the project was complete it came in 28 percent under budget. Ravensdale Park Foundation is a nonprofit with 501c3 status.

In December, the first phase began on the community meadow, which Burlingame has particular interest in.

“The vision for the meadow is six or seven acres of flat, open land so people can go fly a kite, play pick up games of soccer (and so on),” Burlingame said. “Eventually we’ll raise money to put a jogging trail around the outside of the meadow. We’ll also build two national park style picnic shelters — a roof, no walls — (and) you’ll access them off the big, wide jogging trail so they will be wheel chair accessible.”

The area was cleared in early December in order to put down topsoil and hydro-seed, Burlingame said, and she said volunteers will be needed in the future for work parties she will lead to trim up trees in order to make the meadow visible from Kent-Kangley Road.

“We would love to have scouting groups and different community groups come help out with the work parties to ensure that it will be safe,” Burlingame said. “We want the parks to be welcoming and for people to feel safe.”

Reach Assistant Editor Kris Hill at khill@maplevalleyreporter.com or 425-432-1209 ext. 5054.

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