A rendering of the planned YMCA on Kent’s East Hill. COURTESY GRAPHIC, City of Kent

A rendering of the planned YMCA on Kent’s East Hill. COURTESY GRAPHIC, City of Kent

Kent’s YMCA gets $5 million in state grants with budget approval

Kent schools, Mill Creek flood project also receive large grants

  • Friday, January 19, 2018 4:59pm
  • News

The city of Kent will receive a $1 million state grant and the YMCA about $4.1 million in grants to help build a new YMCA on the East Hill after the Legislature approved a $4.18 billion capital budget.

Kent also will get a $2 million grant for Mill Creek flood control.

Another $7.3 million of state funds will go to the Kent School District to help pay for the new Covington Elementary School under construction and scheduled to open in the fall.

Senate Bill 6090 passed the House 95-1 and the Senate 49-0 on Thursday in Olympia. Legislators failed to pass a capital budget last year, so many projects that were supposed to be funded were put on hold.

The Kent City Council approved a project agreement with the YMCA in December for a $24.5 million facility. The YMCA of Greater Seattle hopes to start construction this summer at city park property near Southeast 248th Street and 104th Avenue Southeast. If all goes as planned, the facility could open in 2019.

“Both the city of Kent and the YMCA are very grateful, relieved and happy the state has approved its capital budget,” said City Parks Director Julie Parascondola in an email. “We are also very appreciative of all the community members and volunteers who reached out to their representatives, sent letters of support etc. for this joint project.”

Kent will pay about $10 million toward the YMCA project, including a $1 million grant from the state Department of Commerce (DOC) local and community projects program. The YMCA will get $3 million from the DOC building communities fund and $1.1 million from the DOC youth recreational facilities program, according to 33rd and 47th Legislative District documents.

“These very in demand grant funds wouldn’t have been allocated without the support, hard work and perseverance of our representatives and senators in the 47th and 33rd districts, who did not give up and continued to advocate for the Kent community,” Parascondola said. “A special thank you to Sen. Joe Fain and Rep. Pat Sullivan for being our champions in this effort.”

The total cost of the YMCA project is about $34 million. The city will pay for an estimated $6.5 million of improvements and changes at Morrill Meadows Park and the nearby East Hill Park (including a new dog park) as well as a new 250-spot parking lot. The city also will pay about $2 million for frontage improvements along Southeast 248th Street – a three-lane road, new sidewalks and bike lanes and moving the overhead utilities underground. Kent will spend another $1.5 million to buy replacement park property for the land lost due to the new YMCA.

“We have moved forward in our planning and design of this project with the above funds already included in our total project budget, so we have anxiously and optimistically been following the budget process in Olympia over the past few months,” Parascondola said. “We were relying on these funds and can now breathe a sigh of relief and gratitude and will look forward to breaking ground this summer.”

Nathan Phillips, regional vice president for the YMCA of Greater Seattle, appreciated seeing the state grants get approved.

“We had scores of volunteers and supporters in Kent who helped make this support from the state possible,” he said. “There is still a lot of fundraising work to do before we get to the finish line on the Kent Y and the park redevelopment, but the capital budget gives us tremendous momentum.”

Elsewhere, city officials plan to dredge about a 3-mile stretch of Mill Creek from Earthworks Park to South 204th Street to clear sediment. Mill Creek runs through the heart of Kent’s industrial area and has caused flooding for years on James Street near Central Avenue, on Kennebeck Avenue and along 76th Avenue South.

SBl 6090 includes a record $1 billion to build new public schools – a key provision to help school districts reduce K-3 class sizes – and $800 million in projects at colleges and universities across the state.

Highline College in Des Moines will get $3 million for repairs and maintenance as well as $23.3 million for a new Health and Life Sciences Building. Green River College in Auburn will receive $2.6 million for repairs and maintenance.

In all, the budget will generate an estimated 75,000 jobs in construction, engineering and natural resources over the next four years, according to a news release from the Washington House Democrats.

“Every child in Washington should attend a good school, every family should have access to living-wage jobs and every community a strong infrastructure, this bipartisan budget includes funding for projects that address these needs in every corner of the state,” said 33rd District State Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, in the news release.

“The capital budget is an investment in our local communities, which includes putting local people to work on projects that we all care about,” said 33rd District State Rep. Mia Gregerson, D-SeaTac.

The capital budget pays for buying, building and repairing infrastructure projects including schools, parks, community centers, clean air and water systems, corrections facilities, hospitals, clinics, housing and higher education facilities, among others.

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