Bonney Lake council reassesses phasing plan for Allan Yorke Park

The Bonney Lake City Council continues to consider what the first phase of the Allan Yorke Park makeover should be.

The Master Development Plan for Allan Yorke Part splits the park into four distinct sections: North Park, Central Park, South Park and East Park. Image courtesy of the city of Bonney Lake.

The Bonney Lake City Council continues to consider what the first phase of the Allan Yorke Park makeover should be.

The council discussed the $2.9 million budget item as part of their closing thoughts on the 2017-2018 biennial budget during the Dec. 6 council workshop.

The Allan Yorke Park Master Plan – introduced to the council and the public in July – has been subjected to a shuffle in priorities for which parts of the plan should be tackled first.

The first phase one plan, presented to the council by Bruce Dees & Associates, was never set in stone.

It included work on the two dog parks that would be installed near the senior center and current public works building, redoing the north-most ballpark and construction on the entire southern portion of the park, which entails whole new trails and a new BMX area – a $3.48 million project, if all priority and secondary projects were tackled at once.

By the time budget season came around, phase one had shrunk to just the northern-most ballpark (known as ballfield No. 4) and the dog parks, plus some other trail projects, bringing the total project price tag down to $2.9 million.

This plan is also not yet set, as the contract with developer Bruce Dees hasn’t been approved by the council.

And based on council discussion during the last workshop, Phase one may look different by the time the new year comes around.

COST/BENEFIT ANALYSIS OF SYNTHETIC TURF

Councilman Tom Watson spoke first, saying he was concerned about the cost of redoing the ballfield No. 4.

The budgeted plan for the ballfield is to turn the field around and replace the natural grass with synthetic turf, a total cost of around $2.3 million.

“I don’t see how we can afford to do that,” Watson said. “I asked a couple of times about the expense of having that field upgraded, and what it’s going to cost us to maintain it… it should be a three year plan, not in the first two years.”

Mayor Neil Johnson replied that the cost of replacing the natural grass with turf may cost a lot up front, but is easier to maintain.

“Talking to Tim Thompson at the school district, by installing a turf field at Sunset Stadium and Bonney Lake High School, they have saved $20,000 annually in field maintenance,” Johnson said. “They reduce hours spent maintaining the fields. He anticipates they sweep them once every two weeks.”

Johnson said the city could theoretically reduce the current annual cost of maintaining ballfield No. 4 – currently around $11,000 – to about $3,000 by switching to turf. Additionally, turf lasts approximately 10 years, he said, and it costs less to replace the turf that it is to install it.

“And of course, with the lights, you can use that field now twice as much during the wintertime,” said Johnson. “Ballfield four doesn’t get used for six months, because its dark by the time you get out to play.”

MOVE THE FLAGSHIP PROJECT?

Councilman Randy McKibbon said he is 100 percent good with the ballfield No. 4 upgrades, but his concern was that most the money in the city’s park fund was going to one source.

“The park impact fees were collected to be distributed, I presume, where the impact was caused… not 75 percent of it on one field,” he said. “I appreciate the mayor’s passion toward getting something done and having a nice field there. I agree. But since we’re talking about it, I’ve been doing a little walking around, and I’m not so sure that’s the best place for the nicest field, to replace ballfield four.”

McKibbon instead suggested that the field with the turf should be installed in the center of Allan Yorke Park.

Johnson appealed to the council’s indecision by letting them know that phase one can be changed at any time, but he believes the plan should be moving forward.

“If we don’t want ballfield No. 4 to be the one to be done, if it’s the one in the middle, then so be it,” he said. “This is part of a bigger plan… we’re just picking one phase to start. It can be any phase we want. If you just want dog parks and trails and a BMX whatever, then go for it. Just… we got to do something.”

But one of the things stopping the council from improving the center field is the Public Works building needs to be relocated first, including its materials storage yard, or “dirty site,” which is estimated to cost the city a couple hundred thousand and long manpower hours getting the permits.

Watson and Councilman Dan Swatman suggested re-looking at the phases and figuring out which make sense for the city, considering both time and money.

“I’m not convinced ballpark four should be the first one done, but maybe as we get into it, it makes more sense,” Watson said.

Johnson replied that when phase one was first brought to the council, there wasn’t much discussion.

“Whatever we need for phase one, make it the middle of the field, I don’t care,” he said. “Whatever it is, let’s get phase one going, somehow, somewhere.”

In the end, the council decided to look at moving the Public Works yard and improving the center field instead of ballfield No. 4.

Discussion on this topic is planned for the Jan. 3 workshop.

OTHER NEWS

• The council discussed increasing the water utility rates for city customers. “The water utility is now operating in the red and an immediate rate increase is needed until the new rate study is completed by Financial Consulting Services Group,” the agenda bill reads. The draft ordinance, which was forwarded to the Dec. 13 meeting, would reinstate the 2012 water rates, as set in Ordinance 1429.

• An ordinance relating to the increase of sewer rates was also forwarded to the Dec. 13 meeting. “The sewer rates… are no longer sufficient to fund the operating costs of the sewer utility,” the agenda bill reads. The draft ordinance proposes a five percent increase to both the availability charge and volumetric rate.

• The council looks likely to cancel the Dec. 20 Community Development Committee meeting and council workshop, the Dec. 21 Planning Commission meeting, the Dec. 27 Public Safety Committee meeting, Finance Committee Meeting and city council meeting, and the Dec. 28 Arts Commission meeting through a motion forwarded to the Dec. 13 council meeting.

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