The Key Peninsula Metropolitan Park District got some unexpected yet welcome news recently when the staff learned they were awarded a $500,000 matching grant for Gateway Park development as part of the state Legislature’s 2015-17 capital budget.
Scott Gallacher, executive director of Key Pen Parks, was pleasantly surprised when he received the call about the award, as he noted the statewide grant process is a ranked process and that their grant proposal written and submitted last year was ranked 60 out of 70 applications.
“The legislators focused on proposals that had a development component to them and we had that, so that helped us to be selected,” Gallacher said. Prior to being selected for funding, he said the district anticipated the state approving funding for approximately half of the proposed projects submitted to the legislature.
Gallacher is confident the district can fund its end of the matching grant because of its past stewardship of tax monies collected for its capital projects budget.
“Each year, our budget includes anywhere from $300,000, $400,000 to $500,000 to put toward capital improvements,” he said.
The grant, which for technical reasons will actually match 48 percent to Key Pen Parks’ 52 percent of up to $500,000, will now jumpstart the plans of phase 1 of the project that includes ingress and egress points, a picnic shelter, restroom facilities, parking and the design and construction of a new playground.
The district is working with Bob Droll & Associates of Lacey to develop the 39-acre Gateway Park, located in the 10200 block of State Route 302.
Gallacher said the parks department is doing its due diligence now that includes the permitting process for the work, and construction could start early next year, with a completion date and opening of the playground in 2017.
But much of the timing is subject to change, Gallacher noted. “A lot is still to be determined because we were not expecting this grant — so moving forward, the planning is still very fluid.” he said.
Topping the district’s agenda is to form a playground planning committee. They are looking for residents with young children to help fill the volunteer committee that will provide design input and help develop the specific components of the playground in Gateway Park. The first meeting is scheduled to take place 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 18 at the Key Pen Park office in Volunteer Park, according to the district’s website.
Anyone who is interested is asked to contact Gallacher by phone or email.
Another way residents can help is to donate money to the KP Parks Foundation, a nonprofit arm of the district that help raise funds for a variety of projects.
“We’ve been very good stewards of the money raised,” Gallacher said. “We’ve been able to leverage the money and make $1 grow to $2 or $2.50 to make the parks a better place for Key Peninsula residents.”
He said they aren’t sitting still as they continue to write new grant applications and continue to seek funding from a variety of sources, with the main focus currently being the development of the Gateway Park.
“We are working to build a park in the 98329 ZIP code for the north Key Peninsula area,” he said.
For more information, follow Key Pen Parks on Facebook or visit keypenparks.com.