The Chehalis City Council last week approved a budget recommendation to allocate $20,000 each to both Westside Park and Lintott-Alexander Park in its next budget amendment for facilities improvements.
The funds will be available for park-specific projects in cooperation with two groups that have taken an interest in the betterment of those facilities, the Friends of Westside Park and the Chehalis Foundation.
No specific projects were listed in city documents or during council discussion. The funds will be transferred from the city’s general fund to the public facilities fund.
“We’ve been very blessed with a very giving community,” said Mayor Dennis Dawes, who made the recommendation to the city’s budgeting committee. “I think that, when we can, the city needs to have a little skin in the game, so to speak, to show them that when we have the ability to do so, which is not all the time, that we would like to make sure we do have something that can go toward this and maybe assist with the fundraising.”
The Chehalis Foundation is currently planning a fundraiser to replenish a maintenance fund for Lintott-Alexander Park. A fundraising event is scheduled to take place Friday, July 30, at the park for this effort as well as projects at the Recreation Park Athletic Complex and Penny Playground.
The Friends of Westside Park group, which has been meeting regularly, is looking to draft a conceptual master plan that would look at improvements to Westside Park over multiple years. The group has been looking to secure funds through other avenues as well.
The city reportedly finished out last year’s budget cycle with a “higher than expected fund balance” in its general fund, largely due to savings associated with multiple staff positions that were unfilled.
At the same time, the city’s end-of-year sales tax revenue also exceeded projections, a surprising outcome given the widespread effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The (budget) committee discussed the possibility of making special budget allocations for Westside Park and Lintott-Alexander Park to recognize, appreciate and encourage residents and community groups that work to improve the city by investing time and money into park and other city facilities,” read an agenda report on the allocation.
Councilor Tony Ketchum echoed the comments of City Manager Jill Anderson and Dawes on the civic-minded work that the two groups have displayed.
“The people of Chehalis are one reason I live here. I can choose to live anywhere I would like, but the people here in Chehalis make it special to live here, and they don’t always say ‘the city needs to do this, they need to do that.’ They find it and take it upon themselves to do projects, which makes it very special,” Ketchum said.
Dawes said the return they’ll see on the $20,000 donations would be “tremendous” and that the return from the groups’ work and the city’s support would be well in excess of any other such efforts.
Westside Park is located at 800 Southwest West Ave. and boasts a shady picnic area and playground for children as well as basketball courts.
Lintott-Alexander Park is located at 1101 Riverside Road along a bend of the Chehalis River. It boasts a playground, horseshoe pits, and picnic facilities near the confluence of the Newaukum River. The park was the first large-scale project from the Chehalis Foundation.