The Bingen City Council has decided that significant improvements for Daubenspeck Park -- including new playground equipment -- will top its priority list in 2002.
With a Dec. 10 deadline looming for communities around Klickitat County to submit priorities to the Economic Development Authority, the council voted unanimously to rank park development as its number one need.
The action came during the City Council's regular meeting on Nov. 20.
Before deciding on park improvements, council members narrowed down their list of potential projects to three possibilities: Park revitalization, fire hall construction, and purchasing Depot Street from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway to further downtown revitalization plans.
Because the council had asked for help on the city's fire station project in 2001, some members thought it wouldn't work to ask for the same priority again.
Last year, Bingen asked for, and received, a grant of $30,000 to go toward design and construction oversight on the fire hall project. Work on the new station is expected to get under way by March 2002.
"What are our chances of getting money for the fire hall two years in a row?" asked council member Randy Anderson.
Bingen Mayor Brian Prigel said he believed there was a good chance such a proposal would fly, but council member Teresa Schuemann questioned going in that direction.
"I know the fire hall is the top priority for the city, but it is easier to get people to donate to a fire hall then for a park project," she explained. "It would be silly not to have playground equipment by next summer."
She added that the city's park was inadequate, especially when compared to new playground facilities that have been installed in other towns, including White Salmon's Rheingarten Park, within the past few years.
Council member Larry Murphy said he believed the park needed an upgrade soon.
"I think the park is important, and we need to get something done before warm weather comes back and kids are out and playing," Murphy said.
Schuemann noted that, in addition to playground equipment, the park design needed to include improved walkways and landscaping.
Cost for the project had not been finalized, but Mayor Prigel said he believed it would be "in the neighborhood of $30,000."
Each community is allowed to make two requests, so the council decided to go ahead and make an open-ended request for assistance with the fire hall construction project.
Rather than ask for a specific amount, the council decided to request whatever funds the EDA board can spare as it determines how it will prioritize spending the county's landfill fund. The landfill account is expected to have $350,000 to distribute around Klickitat County in 2002.
The county will announce its decisions on funding early next year.