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Community working to save North Dam Park

 

Last updated 6/29/2022 at 4:11pm



A number of community members who value North Dam Park are working to keep it afloat for the remainder of 2022. 

The park could close for lack of funding in August of this year, a result of the Coulee Area Park and Recreation District having been unable to renew a contract with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation before the end of 2021.

The district is in the process of renewing their contract with the bureau for 2023, but in the meantime, is set to quit maintaining the park, including lawn care, water, power, and garbage services, in mid-August.

That may have changed, however, with a community effort being made to raise money for the park.

A Gofundme page aiming to raise $10,000 for the park to keep it maintained for the remainder of 2022 was set up by Grand Coulee Dam Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Rachelle Baughman.

That page has already raised $3,804 towards the cause in only four days as of Tuesday.

Baughman was just one of about a dozen people who attended a CAPRD meeting June 22 to discuss the park’s situation and options to help it. 

Commissioner Kevin Portch described to the group the process of applying for a new funding contract with USBR, and the information the agency is requesting from CAPRD. 

“We slowly just keep chipping away at this process,” he said.

On June 27, Portch shared an email showing that he is working with USBR Grant Management Specialist Misty Bradford from Boise, Idaho, on securing more funding. 

The last contract with the bureau was for five years, plus a one-year extension, with the bureau providing 48% of funding, CAPRD matching that at 48%, and the other 4% coming from user fees.

That contract was for a nearly $150,000 contribution from USBR, but with CAPRD being unable to raise more money to match, they ended up collecting closer to about $100,000 over those six years.

CAPRD has run two levy elections for funding in the past, both of which failed, the last in 2012 by just two percentage points, getting 58% approval but needing 60%.

That levy was seeking 15 cents per $1,000 of property valuation or $15 for a $100,000 property.

The group discussed running another one, but noted that it costs money to even run a levy.

Portch estimated the group needs an additional $7,000-$10,000 to run the park for the remainder of 2022, with some funding potentially secured later for 2023. 

Those at the meeting, community members and commissioners alike, discussed applying for more grants, with Portch emphasizing that the ideal candidate to fill an empty commissioner spot would be someone familiar with grants.

Al Frank, who attended the meeting, has a knowledge of grants and said that he is willing to share what he knows with the group, but couldn’t take the empty commissioner spot because he only lives in the area about half the time.

Support from the Colville Tribes was also suggested as a possible source of funds for the park, with a woman in attendance noting that tribal members use the park and ballfields.

Having a company sponsor the ballfields to put their name on it was also suggested as a source of income.

Portch, who is involved with softball and baseball programs, noted that 287 kids played on the ball fields in the latest season.

Everyone at the meeting agreed that the park is important. 

When the topic of a Gofundme page was brought up, Portch said the district itself can’t legally run it; that it needs to be an outside entity.

So following the meeting, the chamber set up the donation page at 

https://www.gofundme.com/f/save-north-dam-park?member=20165227&utm_campaign=contacts-v2-invite-to-donate&utm_medium=sms&utm_source=twilio .

CAPRD will be holding a meeting, described by Portch as a workshop, to further explore the topic of finding more funding for the park.

That meeting will be held at the chamber office on Midway Avenue in Grand Coulee, today, June 29, at 5:30 p.m.

“We’re going to try to work our way through some of these grants, ideas and volunteers and go over what we can do to find other options,” Portch said.

He sounded optimistic on the phone on Monday, happy to know the Gofundme page has raised as much money as it had in just a few days. 

He hopes that CAPRD can go beyond just maintaining the park and can get funding to make improvements to it, such as the dugouts on the ball fields and building a full-size basketball court.

 

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