Community Park and Skate Park dominated Council meeting

by Richard Uhlhorn

Redesign of Athletic Fields:

Chelan County PUD has granted $100,000 to the Chelan Parks Department to develop and design a new Community Park at the old ball fields.

The Chelan Parks Department was awarded a $100,000 grant from Chelan County PUD to redesign the old Athletic Fields into a Community Park.

Paul Horne, Parks director, remarked that one of the criteria’s laid out by the PUD was that a dog park and pickle ball courts be a part of the park.

Councilman Chris Baker said he had talked to Ryan Baker at the PUD and that no dog park or pickle ball courts were required. “The PUD doesn’t include dog parks in their parks for many reasons, but mostly because of liability reasons” said Baker.

Chris Baker threw Parks Director Paul Horne under the bus regarding the proposed dog park and pickle ball courts being required at the proposed Community Park. Horne replied that he had it in writing from the PUD, however in a conversation the next day, the PUD apologized to Horne and said those wouldn’t be a requirement.

Horne replied that the correspondence he had from the PUD required those two items. “The citizens want a dog park and pickle ball courts,” said Horne. (Horne has subsequently found out the requirement for a dog park and pickle ball courts are not a part of the agreement. “The PUD representative I talked to apologized to me and said he would apologize to the Council for any misunderstanding.”)

Paul Horne, Chelan Parks Director

Councilman Peter Jamtgaard said he walks around Rivewalk Park and every other individual he comes across is walking a dog. He then brought up the Skate Park as a priority.

McCardle said the PUD agreement for the grant needs to be clear before accepting it. Horne replied that selecting a MOU includes that. Mayor Goedde remarked that the Skate Park needs to be located there.

Councilman Mark Ericks asked what terminology is being used for a dog park; off lease? “What is the definition of a dog park,” he asked. He said the proposed park should be a mixed use area but that a skate park was a priority.

Horne added that the Park’s Department is just starting the process of designing the park. “We really don’t know and need to ask the community what they want.”

This grant will help design the renovation of the underutilized Chelan County PUD Athletic Fields into a welcoming Community Park according to Horne.

A substantive public input process will help the Parks Department and Council determine the ultimate combination of park amenities and features. The final amenities that could be included in the Community Park design could be a Perimeter Walking Path • Inclusive Playground • Skatepark/ Pump track • Parking Lot Enhancements • Reconfiguration of Ball Fields, perhaps one would be a multi-use field • Water Fountains • Picnic Shelters/ Benches • Open Space & Shade Trees • Multigenerational Focused Spaces/ amenities • ADA Upgrades • Ecological enhancements • LED Lighting/ Dark Sky Compliant • Community Garden Space.

Natural stakeholders would include the: • Chelan Parks & Recreation Advisory Board, • Little League and other users of the current ball fields, • Senior Citizens and Senior Center representatives, • Surrounding Residents • Any PUD Advisory Groups.

The Master Planning Process will take 3 – 4 months after hiring a Design Team. The Construction Drawings and Documents would take an additional three (3) months.

SkatePark discussion:

Like this young girls, its not just skateboarders who use the local skate park. Many local kids and visitors enjoy the current skate park on skateboards, scooters and bicycles.

As a part of the Community Park discussion the  proposed Skate Park in Don Morse Park became a major topic.

Erin McCardle stated that the Skate Park needs to be downsized and located at the proposed Community Park because its for locals, not tourists. She made no mention of other recreation amenities at Don Morse Park like sand volleyball or basketball courts.

Erin McCardle stated that the Skate Park needs to be scaled down, moved out of the preferred location at Don Morse Park and over to the proposed Community Park. She claimed that the parents were clear about the Skate Park being for the local skaters.

Horne stated that he wasn’t sure how he and the Council proceed on the agenda item.

City Administrator Wade Farris suggested that the entire issue of the Skate Park and park issues be moved to the next workshop for a deeper discussion. McCardle replied that community input is also needed.

(Editors opinion: The Chelan Skate Park issue has a 28 year history. It, unfortunately, has been through many iterations and heartbreak for the skaters who raised substantial amounts of money back in 1996 to match the City’s pledge of $15,000. Throughout the process, an architect was hired to design Chelan’s Skate Park, but in the end, the Chelan City Council nixed the park because it might ruin the view to the lake even though the planned park was in a bowl.

The Don Morse Skate Park location would be located in this underused area of the park and would be open to all users, not just locals.

Today, 28 years later, and after the public weighed in at public event in Don Morse the overwhelming choice was to have the park located in Don Morse Park.

Erin McCardle wants to throw a rock into the planned location by urging the Parks Director and Council to redraw, scale down and move the location to the proposed Community Park at the current ball fields.

Her and several others on the Council are in agreement that the Skate Park needs to be built for the local skaters. At a cost of $100s of thousands dollars to build a Skate Park, the question that enters my mind is just how many kids in Chelan actually use the existing park, and what’s wrong with having a quality venue for visitors to enjoy?

There are always pros and cons to locating a Skate Park. But after 28 years, it’s time to move forward and locate the park at Don Morse Park for all users, not just the locals. It will be interesting to see what the residents want.)

Seven Acres Foundation request:

Maribel Cruz gave an update on the Community Center and reiterated the need for additional funding to help build a play area at the Center that will be free for all to use. The Foundation is requesting funds from the City’s American Rescue Plan. The City has funds remaining in the $1.2 million dollars received for use at its discretion. “Our needs remain the same,” said Cruz. “We appreciate the difficulties the City faces with funding its many projects,” she added.

The Foundation is requesting $185,000 from the ARP fund. Wade Farris replied that the City didn’t have lot to add to the Anderson Road infrastructure project and if they funded the Foundation’s request and overran on the Anderson Road project they would be required to fund from the Sewer and Water fund.

Public Works Director added that nothing has changed on the project since the last time the Foundation requested funding.

Ty Witt and Maribel Cruz encouraged the City to get on board as a contributor to the new Community Center that will be completed this fall.

Ty Witt, a Community Center Board Member and ex-city council member asked what had changed in the four years since he was on the Council. “We do have a funding gap,” said Witt. “but we also don’t want to be in debt. The Center will be available for everybody based on their ability to pay.”

The Center is slated to be completed latter this year at a cost of $23 million dollars. Witt stated that the County is on board, but that the City has not contributed to the Center. “We could really use the help.”

Mayor Goedde remarked that the City has had to borrow $3 million dollars to help build the Parks Maintenance Building and cover other escalating city costs. With a 15 year payoff on the loan at four percent, Goedde isn’t in favor of using the remaining portion of the ARP funds for the Center’s needs.

Councilwoman Erin McCardle asked how many tenants and contracts the Center has signed up. Witt replied that the Foundation has Memorandum of Understanding’s from future tenants but do not have a single signed contract. However, he stated that the three anchor tenants who have signed a MOU are the Root School, Real Life Church and a gym. McCardle asked if they have a contingency plan if one or more back out. Witt replied that rental space is available and the Foundation is keeping the pricing reasonable.

Special Counsel agreement:

City Council authorized the Mayor to finalize and execute a Special Councel Agreement with Thompson, Gidner & Associates to help evaluate the sufficiency of a contractor’s Performance Bond.

City Employee Wellness Program

Council also approved and reaffirmed the City’s Employee Wellness Incentive Program. Originally implemented through the Association of Washington Cities in 1991, employees were reimbursed at $10 per month. The Council approved a request from the Wellness Committee to increase the reimbursement amount to $25.00 per month

The new $3 million dollar Parks Maintenance Building is quickly taking shape. It will include new bathrooms for visitors and residents.

ParksMaintenanceBuilding change order No. 2:

Council approved a $17,709 change order that addresses changes to the public restroom. It will include a longer stainless steel trough type sink.

Downtown Revitalization:

Tom Beckwith, Beckwith Consulting, presented the City Council with a report on his team’s initial site assessment in downtown Chelan.

The Beckwith Consulting Team has completed their initial site assessment for the Downtown Revitalization Project and presented their findings with City Council.

Tom Beckworth told the Council that his team had completed two days of field work and three sessions with the Public Works Department.

Crosswalks were a topic that was the most difficult to downtown people. “It’s difficult to move people to crosswalks,” said Beckwith. Most people on Woodin just cross the avenue without using the crosswalks.

Sidewalks are an issue with people having to move around planters, benches, trees and streetlights. Outdoor cafe’s and sandwich boards also restricts effective walkways to only four feet. Widening the sidewalks is an option that has become quite controversial.

Beckwith loves the murals around town and told the Council that they need to be retained and maintained.

Trees are also an issue on Woodin Avenue according to Beckwith. Canopy trees, if used need to be pruned high enough that people can walk under them. “They are pruned too low and not doing what a canopy tree is supposed to do,” he said.

Beckwith said the alleys are basically work alleys, but need modifications to be conducive to truck deliveries. Street lights need to be replaced with fixtures that provide services in a new power service grid.

Beckwith said they would be coming back to City Council with reports on progress for the next several months.

Jake Youngren said that Public Works has conducted a business survey. McCardle remarked that it was nice to have responses from people who are downtown. Beckwith stated that his team is in the middle of the process.

“The more people who participate the better the outcome,” said Beckwith. Mark Ericks asked about changing the alleys to one-way and Beckwith replied that the team was going to give the Council a lot of alternatives. “We will come back next month and for the next three months.”

Earth Day – April 22

Mayor Bob Goedde read the 2023 April 22 Earth Day Proclamation into the record at Tuesday evenings City Council meeting. Chelan’s annual Earth Day Fair will take place this Saturday, April 15, at Riverwalk Park from 10 a..m. to 4 p.m. with music, art and crafts, educational displays and activities.

EARTH DAY PROCLAMATIONWHEREAS, Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, founded Earth Day with the goal of staging “a nationwide demonstration of concern for the environment so large that it would shake the political establishment out of its lethargy and, finally, force this issue permanently onto the national political agenda”; and WHEREAS, twenty million people took part in the first Earth Day event on April 22, 1970, beginning a new era in environmental politics, an era that saw the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act; and WHEREAS, Earth Day has gone global, lifting environmental issues onto the world stage; andWHEREAS, the 53rd Anniversary of Earth Day will be April 22, 2023, and organizers are calling for government action to protect and preserve the environment.

Author: allthingslakechelan

I have been a journalist, photojournalist and reporter in the Lake Chelan Valley since 1988; first with the Wenatchee World, then 15 years at the Lake Chelan Mirror and another 12 years at GoLakeChelan. Currently, I am semi-retired but can't give up the media gig which is why I started All Things Lake Chelan blog. I also have two social media platforms; allthingslakechelan/facebook and lakechelansportsandrecration/facebook. I am also a professional photographer with many credits with major outlets around the world.

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