Asks for continued town support of four-year project
Winthrop Kiwanis is making progress on its Family Activity Park project adjacent to the ball field on Highway 20, and will be looking to the town for additional funds to help support the project.
Kiwanis representative Rick Jones gave the Town Council an update on the ambitious, multi-year project at last week’s council meeting. He said water service has been extended to the property, electrical conduits have been installed and construction of a pathway around the ball field is underway. All are part of Phase 1 in the park’s development, which is expected to take four years. More work could be completed this year, depending on weather conditions, Jones said.
The town allotted $15,000 in the current year’s budget for the Kiwanis project, and about $10,000 has been spent. Kiwanis has budgeted $35,000 from its budget, raised through a variety of fund-raising activities, and will budget about $30,000 for next year, Jones said.
In addition, Kiwanis has requested $30,000 from the Winthrop Lodging Tax Advisory Committee, which decides how the town’s allotment of hotel/motel taxes will be spent on local, tourism-related activities. Jones asked for the town’s continued support, which will be part of the council’s 2024 budget deliberations that begin in October.
Palm Construction has been instrumental in initial work on a path around the ball field that would connect with the rest of the park’s activities, and possibly provide a pedestrian connector to West Chewuch Road so people would not have to walk on the roadway shoulder to get up the hill, Jones said.
The council has been supportive of the nonprofit’s project, which was launched the Kiwanis “Fund a Dream” program in 2020 but whose development was delayed by COVID. Town staff has been also been helpful, but two staff members expressed concerns at last week’s council meeting.
Town Planner Rocklynn Culp noted that the town already has a six-year parks and recreation development plan that sets priorities for town expenditures, but it does not include the Kiwanis project. She said she would like to see the Kiwanis park be part of the town’s overall recreation planning, rather than a “side project” outside of the six-year plan.
Public Works Director Jeff Sarvis pointed out that every town park has deferred maintenance needs including failing equipment and deteriorating parking lots. “You need to maintain what you have,” Sarvis said. He also said that the town should be the lead representatives in any discussions with adjacent property owners about possible extension of paths through private property.
In a related action, the council agreed informally to support a Kiwanis request to the Okanogan Economic Development Association (OEDA) for funds to support the Family Activity Park, provided that does not conflict with the town’s own requests it has submitted to the OEDA. Culp said the town is asking for funds to support the RiverWalk project, Town Trailhead parking lot improvements and sewage system upgrades.
The town is limited to three requests, but it’s not unclear whether Winthrop could also endorse the request of a separate nonprofit such as Kiwanis, Culp said.
The project is planned to include ball field improvements including fences, dugouts, stands, restrooms, safety netting and parking, a pump tracks and skills course, a basketball court, batting cages, kids play area, water play area and other amenities, in the areas north and west of the ball field.
Winthrop Barn improvements
The council also amended a contract with DOH Associates, a Wenatchee-based architecture and planning firm, to proceed with additional design work for renovation of bathrooms both inside and outside the Winthrop Barn. The firm will help the town develop bid documents for the work.
The project would include complete renovation of the men’s and women’s restrooms in the barn, including new plumbing, fixtures and electrical, at an estimated cost of $334,000.
Upgrading of the outdoor restrooms would include additional insulating and heating, plus storage area, at an estimated cost of $210,000.
DOH principal Paul Coppock said alternatives for both projects were considered before town representatives opted for the final designs.
The council also approved a recommendation by Marshal Ty Sheehan to contract with Lexipol LLC, a Texas-based firm that develops or revamps, and then regularly updates, policy manuals for law enforcement agencies around the country.
Sheehan said the town’s current policy manual for the Marshal’s Office is so badly outdated that he and deputies might actually be violating current laws by following some portions of it. He said the manual hasn’t been significantly revised in more than 10 years.
“There are numerous substantial legislative changes that occurred over the past three years that essentially make our current policy manual a minefield of potential multi-million dollar liabilities for the Marshal’s Office and town,” Sheehan said in a memo to the council.
Meanwhile, the town has been adopting temporary directives as a stop-gap measure, the marshal said.
Sheehan told the council that about three-fourths of the state’s law enforcement agencies subscribe to Lexipol, which he called “the gold standard,” and that there no comparable service available. Rather than start from scratch, Sheehan said, the town can for a $500 transfer fee use the basic components of a Lexipol-based policy manual developed for the Town of Twisp under Sheehan’s supervision when he worked as a deputy in the Twisp Police Department. That will save Winthrop the substantial cost of starting from scratch, he said.
Sheehan said his department can fund the pro-rated subscription fee of $941 for the remainder of 2023, and asked for a budget allocation of $3,785 in the 2024 budget to cover the contract cost.
Sheehan said the Association of Washington Cities’ risk management service will reimburse the town for 50% of Lexipol-related expenses.
Town gets federal grant for water main replacement
Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) announced this week that the Town of Winthrop’s request for federal Community Project Funding to replace an existing water main over the Methow River has been awarded.
According to a press release, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $667,000 to the town for the water main reconstruction project, as identified in the fiscal year 2023 Consolidated Appropriations Act.
The existing water main beneath the Methow River bridge was installed in 1965 and is failing. It is the only water main across the Methow River and serves more than 70% of the town’s population and businesses as well as the sole supply for firefighting, according to the release.
“As a member of the House Committee on Appropriations, I have a unique opportunity to submit essential funding requests for the communities of Central Washington,” said Newhouse. “The water main in the Town of Winthrop is critical to the livelihood of the Winthrop community … I’m proud to help provide the town with a reliable and safe water system for years to come.”
“Congressman Newhouse introduced the appropriation process and supported the Water Line Replacement Project for the town, Mayor Sally Ranzau said in the release. “Securing funding for these projects is difficult for a small community and replacement of this pipe is essential to providing safe reliable water to our residents and businesses. This appropriation will service Winthrop for another 50 years,”