The cities of Bingen and White Salmon have both completed their separate prioritization processes for the annual Klickitat County Economic Development Authority (EDA) grant program.
On the evening of Dec. 2, Bingen decided to ask for grant funds to make long-promised improvements to Daubenspeck Park, while White Salmon opted primarily for emergency equipment for the Fire Department.
The EDA grants come from funds generated by the county's regional landfill operation in Roosevelt.
At the Dec. 2 council meeting, Bingen City Administrator Jan Brending pointed out that a Dec. 8 deadline was approaching fast, and the council needed to set its goals to obtain the funds for 2009.
"We have to submit all the projects we consider by Dec. 8," Brending explained.
Bingen discussed two different proposals for the park. One concept was to build a skatepark, but the costs for that were high.
"A 5,700 square feet skatepark would cost about $200,000 -- but we can do a basic version for about $40,000," Brending said.
The snag with that plan -- in addition to the cost -- is that the city wants to put the skatepark where the basketball court is now. That means the skatepark can't be built until the basketball area is replaced.
"We're tentatively committed to a skatepark," explained Bingen Mayor Brian Prigel. "We have a good plan in place, but to build a skatepark we need to move the basketball court. In my opinion, this way we can move the basketball court and have seed money to get a portion of the skatepark done."
That reality led to a second idea: Purchasing a new "sport court" to replace the basketball court, and eventually helping to pave the way for the skatepark. The sport court would be 40 feet wide by 70 feet long, and cost $18,200. The cost would cover a "streamlined" version of the court, which would have no cover and no lights.
"We may ask for the cover and lights also. I recommend that we ask for $20,000, and add in the cost of the cover and lights," Brending said.
Prigel added that he believed it was wise to go relatively slow with changes in the park.
"We don't want to go overboard with the skatepark," Prigel said. "We're not sure what the response of the community will be, and so we could go with a smaller version of the skatepark and see if there is community support."
Bingen City Council member Betty Barnes pointed out that the skatepark project has been before the council for many years, and it was time to move forward on the idea.
"While we've been talking about the skatepark project, a whole group of kids has gone off to college. But there is a new group coming up," Barnes said.
Prigel suggested that the city put the basketball court in first, so park users would have something to do while the skatepark is being constructed.
"We have to move the basketball court first to put in the skatepark anyway," Prigel said.
After discussion, the Bingen council decided to set the new basketball court as its top grant priority for 2009.
"As long as we're doing something for the park, I can support this," said council member Timothy Hearn.
Bingen's vote on the plan was unanimous.
In White Salmon, the City Council set safety and rescue equipment -- including a thermal imaging camera -- for the White Salmon Fire Department as the top priority.
"The Fire Department needs to purchase equipment to provide for a rapid intervention team," explained Fire Chief Bill Hunsaker in a memorandum to the city.
Hunsaker asked for $18,000 for an air bottle able to provide 60 minutes of air, a spare breathing mask, and an air line to attach to a breathing apparatus. The air bottle would be used to help a firefighter or citizen trapped in a life-threatening area.
"We also need to purchase a thermal imaging camera that helps firefighters see through smoke, and also helps detect hot spots while extinguishing a fire," Hunsaker added.
Another proposal called for asking the EDA for $27,500 to replace 14 light posts in Rhinegarten Park.
"There are 14 light standards that provide security and visibility for evening use," explained Deputy Public Works Director Tom Smith in a Dec. 2 report to the city. "These laminated posts are dangerously decayed, and present a hazard to the public and other users of the park. The hazard is great enough that the city's risk management team called these out for repair as soon as possible."
The county EDA board will meet and make its recommendations on which projects to fund in January. The Klickitat County Board of Commissioners then makes a final decision on how the landfill money will be distributed in February.