Jackson Park project on hold until funding becomes available
EVERETT - Sen. H.M. Jackson Park improvement project will have to wait.
The U.S. government tightened its wallet during the Great Recession, causing municipalities to shelve projects such as Jackson Park. It might take years to renovate Jackson Park depending on how quickly the economy picks up, Parks and Recreation director Paul Kaftanski said last week.
With no easy avenue to find $3.1 million to pay for the first half of the park’s construction, Kaftanski released $250,000 dedicated to designing Jackson Park back to the city coffers. The City Council signed off on freeing part of the $648,000 earmark last week, leaving $100,000 unspent.
“We can design it, but we don’t have the $3.1 million to construct it,” Kaftanski said.
Kaftanski has his eye on the money. With the earmark gone, Kaftanski wants the money reallocated to smaller projects, including funding a needed environmental study at the Bruskrud Road park site. The city is using part of the 15-acre Bruskrud Road site to compensate for a decades-old mistake.
Everett made a mistake when it built a fire station on 3.5 acres of land near Thornton A. Sullivan Park designated for park land. The city received federal grant money for that park land, and now Everett must get authorization to swap the park land with the Fire Department for another park site in the city to follow through on its grant commitment. A passive park at Bruskrud Road is the parks department’s answer.
Everett needs the environmental study done so the U.S. National Parks Service will consider Everett’s land swap plan. The state National Conservation Office already said yes to the swap.
The environmental study should cost less than $100,000, Kaftanski said. He’ll come before the City Council soon with this earmark request. The plan already has the unofficial blessing of the mayor’s office, Kaftanski said.
How the rest of the $250,000 will be spent is yet to be determined, but some of it might go back to Jackson Park.
The city’s hired consultants finished a master plan in spring 2011 that makes over Jackson Park in two big phases: redoing the west side and adding more fields to the east side. Kaftanski’s looking to break up pieces of the master plan and incrementally add things to the park’s west side, such as more picnic tables.
“We would attempt to chew off bits and pieces of phase one,” Kaftanski said.
The master plan for phase one adds a larger playground area, more picnic facilities and additional pedestrian paths on the park’s west side.
The plan concentrates athletic fields to the east side of the park in phase two. The park will continue to have soccer fields, a baseball diamond and a large turf area.
The plan also calls for acquiring two acres of land for additional parking and a 14,000-square-foot community garden.
Kaftanski released all but $100,000 of the earmark. The department could use the remaining $100,000 as a carrot to seek matching federal funds for Jackson Park, Kaftanski said.
By MICHAEL WHITNEY
Published Jan. 25, 2012