Park district to seek grants

Trail users have taken to building informal bridges across the wet areas on the trail system. Photo by Bennett Blaustein

The Point Roberts park and recreation district is looking for grant opportunities to help stretch additional tax dollars approved by voters in the last election.

At the January 8 district board meeting commissioner Bennett Blaustein reported his ongoing efforts to improve trails at Baker Field and suggested the district pursue grant funding to ensure key trails aren’t flooded in the winter and safe from falling trees.

“We have a little bit of extra money now with our new levy,” he said. “A grant with a 20 percent match, if we threw $5,000 in, that would mean a $25,000 budget and we could do a lot with that.”

Blaustein started mapping the trails at Baker Field in 2016 and has been slowly improving them, removing deadfall and clearing overgrown areas. He has focused on two trails he feels offer the most to park users. The transfer station trail connects the parking lot off of Benson Road with Johnson Road, running along the eastern edge of the transfer station property. The forest loop trail overlaps the transfer station trail between the northwest corner of Baker Field and the water tank, then veers off into the woods and loops around to the east and south to return to the field.

“Trail conditions currently flood during the winter and spring and a grant could be used to fix the areas that flood so the trails could be used year-round,” Blaustein said. Blaustein identified grant opportunities through the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO)’s recreational trails program that the district project would qualify for with a 20 percent match.

According to a 2018 RCO press release, a new program offers grants with only a 10 percent local match to certain communities. In addition to trails the RCO also offers low-match grants to develop parks facilities such as ball-fields, outdoor swimming pools, boating facilities and water access. “One caveat is that some communities must have a comprehensive plan in place by March 1 to be eligible for this year’s grants,” read the January 11 RCO press release.

New park commissioner Arthur Reber agreed to take on the time-consuming task of getting the district registered on the state’s online grant application portal and write the grant before the November deadline.

Commissioners  also moved forward with plans to use funds from the levy increase to hire a part time program and facilities coordinator. The board has budgeted $39,000 a year for the part-time position, including benefits. The successful candidate will need to be available to work 20 hours per week, perform maintenance and light repair work and handle computer tasks.

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