A pair of parks in Vader and Napavine are due to receive a combined $542,043 over the next two years thanks to grants from the state Recreation and Conservation Funding Board.
The money will be used for extensive park improvements.
The Washington Recreation and Conservation Office announced the awards in a news release Wednesday. Roughly 342 projects located in each of Washington’s 39 counties will receive about $386 million in total funding, with more than $164 million coming from the state and more than $221 million coming from matching funds.
These projects include park refurbishment, trail maintenance, construction of boat docks, endangered species habitat conservation and conservation land use for farming and timber harvests, among others, according to the news release.
The City of Napavine will receive nearly $259,000 to install a covered kitchen and restroom facility, as well as build new ADA-accessible pathways at Mayme Shaddock Park. Back in 2018, according to previous reporting by The Chronicle, the city had to “red-tag” the park’s existing kitchen for demolition.
“The improvements make the park better able to serve the community as a gathering place for elementary school children, community events, weddings and other celebrations,” read the project description.
The city plans on pitching in $86,503 in funding as well as donations of equipment, labor and materials.
“It’s kind of a pat on the back to our public works guys and community development staff,” Mayor Shawn O’Neill told The Chronicle on Thursday. “We’re really looking forward to having that kitchen area back there where friends, families and citizens can go to utilize that space … We have great parks and it’s about time we start investing in them.”
Once the covered kitchen is in place, O’Neill said he hopes the community will take care of it and be good stewards of it. During the recent heat wave, the city operated its sprinklers through the park for families to come out and cool down.
O’Neill said it has been a focus of his to develop and improve the city’s parks. That was most recently seen with the upgrades made to the baseball park.
The improvements at Mayme Shaddock Park also include construction of a picnic shelter and installation of new lighting.
In Vader, the city will receive a $283,143 grant to install a trio of playground structures at Werden Park. Vader Mayor Joe Schey said it should look similar in style to those at Penny Playground in Chehalis, as the city is contracting with the same company.
The city will also erect fencing, pave a parking lot, install shaded picnicking areas and pave a loop walking path.
“Werden Park is in Vader’s town center, off State Route 506. Developing this park is key to providing an underserved and low-income community with healthy forms of entertainment, physical activity and social connectivity within walking distance,” read the project description.
The city will contribute $94,381 of its own money and labor for the project.
“We’re hoping to make it an even better project than what we have in the books with the state,” Schey said, adding later: “It’ll be quite grand and unlike anything currently in south county right now.”
Vader’s project will cost nearly $400,000. Schey said the city is still soliciting grant funding from other sources, including from TransAlta and T-Mobile. BNSF also recently contributed $5,000 in grant funding to the project.
It should be finished this fall.
Schey said Werden Park hasn’t seen such a drastic upgrade since the city was granted the park in 2005. In 2009, the city installed a kitchen pavilion and public restroom. Then, in 2015, a makeshift basketball court was built.
Schey said the city’s parks board played a really instrumental role in getting this project to where it is now.
Other projects in the area include:
• $437,780 for WDFW land near Oakville. The state Department of Fish and Wildlife will purchase 416 acres of floodplain to expand the buffer around WDFW’s Davis Creek Wildlife Area Unit near Oakville. The project will also connect two habitat corridors and create a permanent near-continuous, north-south link between the Capital State Forest and the Lower Chehalis State Forest. “The land contains remnant oak woodland and historic prairie habitats.
Bordering lands are known to support waterfowl, elk, beaver, salmon, band-tailed pigeon, wood ducks and the Olympic mudminnow,” a project description reads.
• $485,850 for Restoring South Puget Sound Region Habitats. The Washington Department of Natural Resources and the WDFW will use this grant to restore 800 acres of outwash prairie, grassland bald and oak woodland habitat at five of the most significant conservation sites in the South Puget Sound: Bald Hill, Mima Mounds, Rocky Prairie, Scatter Creek and West Rocky Prairie.
The sites harbor some of the last environments for federally-listed and endangered species. The two departments will work to remove invasive species in some areas, and seed and transplant native plants and shrubbery.