Rep. Dave Reichert gets a glimpse of the future Covington Community Park
Congressman Dave Reichert, left, learns about Covington Community Park from Parks and Recreation Director Scott Thomas during a tour May 19.
Across the street from Tahoma High, what looks like an empty pasture surrounded by trees will eventually be home to fields, trails and a playground.
On May 19, 8th District U.S. Rep. Dave Reicherttook a tour of the site for the city of Covington’s Community Park, which Scott Thomas, the city’s parks and recreation director, has sought federal funding for construction of the park.
Thomas is working to find money to pay for construction of Covington Community Parklocated 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.
“Without the congressman’s support, we would not have an opportunity for (federal funding),” Thomas said prior to the tour.
Reichert supported funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund in a vote in the House of Representatives in February that helped keep it alive.
“We designed this park to meet Covington residents’ highest needs,” Thomas said. “We surveyed them in 2009.”
Residents told the city they wanted places to play sports, walk, spend time with their families, among other things, so, Thomas explained, Covington Community Park will have a soccer field, a plaza, volleyball and basketball courts, a large playground, a plaza, tennis courts and an outdoor performance area along with trails winding around the edge.
“That’s the big vision,” Thomas said. “The Land Water Conservation Fund grant we applied for is to develop about half of the park. Right now we’re No. 4 on the list. This year two projects on this list will be funded.”
Reichert said, “That’s quite a vision. You’re here shaping what the cit is going to look like for our kids and grandkids.”
Thomas thanked Reichert for his support of the LWCF funding because it may mean the project’s grant application could be funded in the future even if it won’t get money in this funding cycle.
“It’s important for us to be able to provide some of this in town,” Thomas said. “It’s a good start. It fits our budget right now. Both projects are partnerships that rely on grant funding.
“I have a large parks system to develop. LWCF could be very instrumental. I’m really hoping we can tap into that.”
Reichert credited his predecessor in Congress, Jennifer Dunn, for inspiring him to continue her work advocating for the outdoors and parks.
“I feel a responsibility to carry on in that regard,” he said. “The real credit goes to all of you who are doing the work and putting the plans in place.”
Thomas said the plan is to break ground on the first phase of construction next spring.
While the city continues to work on and wait for the grant application process and the state legislature to wrap up, Covington is allocated money from the King County Parks levy as well as from the King Conservation District. Neither of those funding sources require a competitive process to procure the cash.
It can also be used as matching funding on competitive grants.
As the process moves forward at the state and federal levels, Thomas said, things will eventually shake out as far as how much money Covington will receive.