Grants cover new W. Richland river park, Clover Island restrooms

Newly awarded state grants could help develop a park in West Richland near the Yakima River, improve the Crow Butte Park marina on the Columbia River and add restrooms at the Clover Island dock in Kennewick.

The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board has awarded $86 million in state and federal grants, including $2.4 million for projects in Benton County.

No awards were made for projects in Franklin County.

The money comes from eight grant programs that receive money from sources that include the sale of state bonds, gas taxes and user fees.

West Richland was awarded three of the grants to buy park land near and along the Yakima River, including an access point near the Van Giesen bridge, and to develop a trail.

However, Mayor Donna Noski cautioned that the proposed project is in early stages. The West Richland City Council still must consider issues such as matching grant money, the cost of buying land and staffing for a new park before it could become a reality.

The three West Richland grants equal a combined $1.545 million. The city would need more than $1 million in matching money, which could come from another grant from the Recreation and Conservation Office, other state and local grants, cash and donated labor.

The money would be used to buy two acres for access to the Yakima River near the Van Giesen bridge. It would allow access for fishing and for nonmotorized recreation, such as floating the river on innertubes.

The city would landscape the area, create viewing and picnic areas and install kiosks with educational information. A trail would connect to natural wildlife areas and regional trail systems.

Additional acreage could be bought upland for future park development. The project could include restrooms and parking. Picnic areas would retain the existing trees. There would be opportunities to eventually develop a community pavilion and water spray park for children.

The grant for the Clover Island Dock was awarded to the Port of Kennewick. It is worth about $238,000 and would need to be matched by about $357,000 in cash and staff labor from the port.

The port's 104-foot-long dock at Clover Island was renovated in 2010, but more improvements are needed for an area used each year by more than 2,700 boats carried on trailers, according to information from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board. The area is popular because the protected area can be a better place to launch boats than the swifter water at nearby launch sites.

A gravel lot would be turned into parking for boat trailers, and restrooms would be added. An overlook would be created with a picnic area and benches. In addition, a wash-down area and drain would be added.

The Port of Benton was awarded a $622,000 grant to improve the Crow Butte Park marina on the Columbia River in southwest Benton County. The port will need to contribute $208,000 in cash, staff labor and donations.

Plans call for replacing the main boat launch and the boat basin floating dock and gangway. A new restroom would be added, along with a fish cleaning station and 12 new boat slips.

The project would require electrical, water and sewer lines be extended to the new restroom and fish cleaning station.

Crow Butte is a 275-acre park with 50 campsites, a day use area, concession stand and a swimming area.

Elsewhere in the region, $1.9 million was awarded to buy 2,239 acres near Vantage to be included in the proposed Wanapum Natural Area Preserve, which would protect whipsnake habitat, dunes and shrub-steppe communities. The proposed preserve includes a dune system covering more than 1,000 acres.