Local projects miss out on state funds —

Local projects miss out on state funds

David Lester, Yakima Herald-Republic, Sept 2, 2008

Two major Yakima Valley recreation projects won't receive state grants to expand facilities for at least the next two years.

A Yakima County request for $672,000 to extend the Yakima Greenway pathway on the former Naches rail corridor, northwest of Yakima, and $500,000 to build a Yakima Youth Soccer Association complex east of Interstate 82 both scored too low to receive funding this year, local and state officials said Tuesday.

A separate request from state parks to create a Greenway path on the east side of the Yakima River also lost out in the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program funding cycle for this biennium, a competitive funding program that drew more than 100 requests from around the state. Funding programs for trails and parks had a combined $17 million available.

Projects that scored high enough to be funded will be submitted to the Legislature in January as part of the state capital budget request for 2009-11.

Larry Mattson, working on behalf of the Yakima Youth Soccer Association to develop the 12-field complex south of the regional wastewater treatment plant, said the group intends to expand its fundraising efforts statewide to create the $2 million complex.

"My message to the board is instead of seeing this as a $500,000 hole, it is an opportunity to create 500,000 new friends of soccer," Mattson said.

The campaign will be built on the theme that the 35-acre complex will be a destination for soccer statewide, Mattson said.

He said the association's aggressive campaign hopes to see ground broken next spring.

The complex would include the dozen fields, a concession facility, restrooms and a playground. A later phase would add three more fields, an administration building and maintenance facilities.

Currently, the association's 2,000 players compete at three soccer complexes spread throughout the urban area.

The Greenway project, a first phase of less than three miles from 40th Avenue to SunTides, was estimated to cost $1.3 million. The Yakima Greenway Foundation agreed to provide the $672,000 match through local fundraising and in-kind services, such as labor.

The total project is nearly 11 miles long and would double the existing Greenway pathway complex through the urban area.

Al Brown, Greenway executive director, said the next task is to consider alternatives.

"I don't know right now what that means. It could mean that when the rails and ties come out, it may be a gravel pathway until we can secure more funding," he said.

The former rail line, not used to transport freight since 1996, has been granted a status called rail-banked, meaning the use for rail may one day re-emerge.

But for the time being, the plan is to create a pathway linking Yakima and Naches.

Brown and County Engineer Gary Ekstedt said the pathway application received low marks for access to water, enhancing wildlife habitat and creating wildlife migration corridors.

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