Changes are coming to Kent Memorial Park later this year with the city’s first Wiffle ball field and a renovated playground.
The Kent City Council on Tuesday night approved a bid of $368,945 to install the field and new playground equipment at the park, 850 Central Ave. N.
Kent received a grant of $75,000 from the King County Youth Sports Facilities program and a $25,000 grant from the Kent Lions Club to help pay for the Wiffle ball field. A Wiffle ball is plastic with holes and players use a plastic bat to hit it.
“It’s a fabulous project,” said Hope Gibson, city parks planning and development manager, to the council. “It was conceived in-house and designed by a consultant.”
Brian Levenhagen, city parks senior planner, came up with the idea for the field last year after seeing children playing Wiffle ball at a field during travels to Pittsburgh.
“It’s real easy to play and anyone can play,” Levenhagen said during a presentation last year to the council’s Parks and Human Services Committee. “Kids recruited other kids to play. The idea for this field is kids play and create their own rules and play on their own terms.”
Councilman Les Thomas asked Gibson about the bids coming in higher than the city engineer’s estimate of $300,000 to $340,000. The final cost of the field and playground project with taxes is $412,989.
“The bids came in a little bit high but that’s part of a concerning but prevalent pattern we have been seeing with the boom in construction in the region,” Gibson said. “But the bids came in close enough that we are confident this is the lowest amount we can pay for this project.”
Crews will install the field at a grassy area near the playground. Levenhagen said the field is expected to attract older kids while playgrounds are more for those ages 12 and younger.
The renovated playground will include a new Explorer Dome, which is a net climbing structure; a new slide; a group swing; and a separate play area for kids ages 2 to 5.
Gibson said the field and new equipment is part of a new philosophy by parks staff to upgrade current assets.
“We are going back to the parks plan approved a couple of years ago to improve the recreational value of each park,” she said.
New restrooms at Lake Meridian
The restroom is in need of updating to improve function and aesthetics and needs to comply with ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements, according to city documents.
Crews will install new doors and restroom fixtures, add new bathroom stalls, new outdoor showers and convert the old concession stand to a new family restroom.
Gibson said money still in an account from a $1 million state grant to replace the Lake Meridian dock will be used to pay for the project.
“The good news about this project is when we completed the dock replacement last summer, the bids came in low so we had money leftover that’s financing this,” she said. “We’ve got some Blue Light Specials.”