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Mill Creek Sports Park turf replacement project at risk due to Washington State Legislators' failure to pass Capital Budget

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Mill Creek Sports Park aerial view. Photo courtesy of HBB Landscape Architecture.
Mill Creek Sports Park aerial view. Photo courtesy of HBB Landscape Architecture.

By Richard Van Winkle, News of Mill Creek.

After 13 years of heavy use, the Mill Creek Sports Park’s artificial turf is slowly becoming a safety concern for the many youth sports organizations that use it for soccer, baseball, and softball games.

Although the field is inspected, maintained, and certified safe every quarter, seam tears and the loss of cushioning on the 64,000-square-foot athletic field increase the chances of injury.

Acting Public Works Director Kamal Mahmoud said, “The field turf is falling apart. We are really struggling to keep it together.”

As well, the old lighting system is very inefficient and expensive to maintain compared to today’s LED lights.

According to a City of Mill Creek news release, Opened in 2004, the sports park serves 3,825 youth annually and is home to many soccer, baseball and softball teams. It is rented by youth sports organizations for 2,661 hours over the course of 330 days per year, including use for several regional and state tournaments each year. In addition, the community uses it when not occupied by rental groups.”

In 2016 city staff crafted a scope of work for a project to improve field safety, to reduce lighting and maintenance costs, and to allow disabled people field access.

Mahmoud said, “Although Mill Creek has a number of capital projects in the works right now, the Mill Creek Sports Park turf and lighting project is one of our top priorities. We hope to have the design engineering completed in the beginning of next year so that we can go out for construction bids.”

The Mill Creek City Council approved the estimated $775,000 project as part of the 2017-2018 Biennial Budget. However, the city depends on joint funding from other stakeholders for capital project such as this.

Working with Washington State and Snohomish County, city staff obtained agreement for the project’s joint funding.

Snohomish County Councilmember Terry Ryan personally announced the county would contribute a $100,000 grant for the project.

“We are always looking for opportunities to partner with local communities for the benefit of sports activities,” said Ryan. “It is a personal passion of mine to keep kids healthy, happy and active.”

Mill Creek Recreation and Tourism Manager Brian Davern worked with the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office to get a $250,000 grant ranked number six out of 18 approved projects.

However, the Washington State 2017-2018 Capital Budget that funds these projects didn’t pass, even after a number of special legislative sessions.

State lawmakers are holding up the capital budget because they can’t agree on a separate and unrelated piece of legislation regarding water well permitting.

Although design engineering for Mill Creek’s project is going forward, the actual construction will be held up if state funds are not made available.

Mill Creek Director of Communications and Marketing Director Joni Kirk said, “This project may not be built without the $250,000 state grant. The state legislature needs to do their job to fund this critical recreational project.”

“Another direct impact to the City is that we would lose power consumption savings by further delays,” said Davern.

According to a Mill Creek news release, "City staff are united in urging Washington legislators to pass a capital budget that includes funding for capital projects important to communities throughout Washington including Recreation Conservation Office projects."

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