May 7, 2009 in Washington Voices

Rocky Hill project back on state budget

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Like the phoenix rising from the ashes, the second phase of Rocky Hill Park in Liberty Lake seems to be coming back to life.

The $500,000 state grant needed to complete the project is back in the budget after having been removed with the growing budget shortfall. “It seems to have resurrected itself a bit,” said community development director Doug Smith. “There is $503,500 in the state budget. It hasn’t been signed by the governor, but we’ve got our fingers crossed.”

Last fall the city was notified that the project was on the state’s short list of projects to be funded and staffers were confident that the money was virtually guaranteed. But with the constantly rising budget shortfall, the project fell out of the budget and was thought to be dead.

Smith was pleasantly surprised to hear the project was back. “It was satisfying that they continue to identify this as a high priority for the community.”

Even if the money does come through, Smith doesn’t expect construction to begin right away. “It will be next year,” he said. “It’s going to be rather late in the season to start the process.”

The eight-acre first phase of Rocky Hill Park at Mission and Winrock was completed late last year. It included a basketball court, a parking lot, sports fields and a playground area. The nearly seven-acre second phase calls for more playground equipment, tennis courts, a community garden, a picnic shelter, a restroom and more.

The first phase was completed so late in the season last year that it appeared that the grass seeding had failed. The park has been largely brown and bare, and city officials feared the park couldn’t be used this year – until last week.

“Much like the grant, the grass has shown a remarkable turnaround,” Smith said. “It’s really started to green up.

“We had written off the hydroseed. We really thought we had lost it. Nothing was showing any signs of life.”

With shoots of green appearing all over, it appears that playground equipment will be able to be installed this year and the playfields might see some use. Everything will be in later than planned, but it will be there.

“As soon as we get a workable surface out there, we’ll get started,” Smith said. “We actually are cautiously optimistic that we might get some play on the field this year.”

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