Last week, I had the opportunity to spend time with local parks directors and their staff at a gathering in Moses Lake. A few times a year, these folks come together to share best practices, provide updates on projects, and network with other central and eastern Washington parks leaders. Representatives at the meeting were from Quincy, Prosser, Ellensburg, Othello, Moses Lake, and the Eastmont Metro Park District.
As these passionate and committed individuals talked about the latest and greatest happenings in their respective communities, two things became abundantly clear to me.
First, they are hungry. They are hungry to provide their communities with new opportunities and to get people active, outside, and engaged in their local parks. They understand the value of outdoor recreation and that providing access to the outdoors equals healthier communities.
Second, these folks are some of our best advocates. They want to improve their communities and recognize the importance of WWRP in doing that.
As the May 1 WWRP application deadline approaches, it was great to learn that some of these communities will be applying for multiple grants in a variety of WWRP categories. Othello, for example, may submit applications for FIVE different projects.
I also shared information about the new match reduction program, which makes certain communities eligible for a reduction in the matching funds requirement. These folks know first hand the struggle that securing local funds can present when planning projects. They understand that for some communities, coming up with a 50% match is difficult, if not impossible. The new match reduction policy reduces this barrier, and will transform how cities and towns plan for WWRP projects.
I’d like to send along a personal note of thanks to Brad Case at the Ellensburg Parks and Recreation Department for the invitation to take part in this gathering. Partnership with local parks departments across Washington is critical to the continued success of the Coalition and WWRP, and we are extremely grateful for this opportunity to deepen those relationships.