Plans to launch first phase this spring
The Winthrop Kiwanis Club’s ambitious “Fund a Dream” project for improvements to the town’s pump track and ball field has been in hibernation for the past couple of years, thanks to COVID.
But with the help of seed money from the town, Kiwanis is reviving plans that include estimated expenditures of more than $200,000 for various projects over a four-year period, intended to increase recreation opportunities for all ages at what the club is calling a “Family Activity Park.”
The Winthrop Town Council recently agreed to include $10,000 funds in the town’s 2022 budget to help advance the Kiwanis project to improve the town-owned pump track and adjacent ball field on Highway 20. The funds are earmarked for the town’s participation in providing water and power to the site this year, the Kiwanis Club’s first priority.
The project was first detailed in 2020 as a Kiwanis “Fund A Dream” effort, which is largely supported by the organization’s annual Bite of the Methow event. But COVID has prevented the Bite from being staged for the past couple of years.
Kiwanis President Rick Jones said the project is being developed in partnership with other local organizations. He said Kiwanis will also be asking for funds through the town’s Lodging Tax Advisory Committee (LTAC), which determines how locally collected hotel and motel taxes will be used to support and promote tourism-based activities.
Kiwanis will also be seeking grants from the state Recreation and Conservation Office, which has helped fund many local projects including the Winthrop Rink and the Susie Stephens Trail. Those grants typically require a local match of money or in-kind contributions such as labor and materials. To that end, Jones said the organization will also be seeking help from various nonprofit foundations. Winthrop Kiwanis is also now part of the annual Give Methow campaign, which Jones said is a promising source for funding the club’s local projects.
And, Kiwanis International also provides support for worthy local projects, Jones said, so the Winthrop club will be seeking funding through that source as well.
In a letter to the Town Council, Jones said Kiwanis hopes to begin its work this spring and continue through the fall. He outlined four phases for the project:
• Phase 1, estimated costs of $26,000, to include water and power service, painting the ball field’s outfield fence and a water fountain at the ball field.
• Phase 2, estimated costs of $58,000, to include dugouts, a fence around the grandstand, landscaping, foul ball fencing to prevent balls from flying onto Highway 20, a walking path, pump track upgrades, a dog waste station and a music station. (The Wikepedia definition of a pump track is “a circuit of rollers, banked turns and features designed to be ridden completely by riders ‘pumping’ — generating momentum by up and down body movements, instead of pedaling or pushing. It was originally designed for the mountain bike and BMX scene.”)
• Phase 3, estimated costs of $42,500, to include a center field gate to new batting cages, basketball court improvements, a water fountain for the activity park, more pump track improvements such as a bike rack, fitness stations, additional landscaping, a kids’ play area with climbing features, and extension of a trail to West Chewuch road.
• Phase 4, estimated costs of $90,000, to include a pavilion, picnic area, parking lot improvements, lighting for the ball field and the activity park, and additional signage.
All told, the cost estimates — which likely will change over time — come to about $216,500. Jones described the Kiwanis dream as “a plan, a vision … it is all contingent on finances.”
Jones said Kiwanis will seeking input from local students, residents and organizations about their priorities and additional ideas for the activity park. “It could be modified as we go along,” he said.
The park’s improvements are aimed not just at expanding opportunities for residents, but also at attracting more visitors, Jones said. The ball field already hosts softball tournaments (summer and winter), and the pump track complex is adjacent to Highway 20 at the western entrance to town, a highly visible site. LTAC fund grants are dependent on making the case that the expenditures will enhance tourism.
Jones noted that the town, which owns the ball field and pump track properties, doesn’t have the resources to take on all the improvements Kiwanis envisions.
“We’re going to need the community’s support,” Jones said. “We’ll be providing spaces for families and tourists. We can make it happen.”