Almost $2.5 million in state grants will be used to provide more opportunities for outdoor fun in Benton County.
Projects include building an amphitheater and more sports fields in Richland, adding a playground at Crow Butte Park, improving the Horn Rapids Motorsports Complex and the previously announced planned purchase of Candy Mountain land for a hiking trail park.
The Washington State Recreation and Conservation Funding Board is distributing $110 million for 268 projects statewide to build parks and boating facilities, give people access to shorelines, maintain trails and conserve working farms and critical wildlife habitat.
Seven of the projects are in Benton County, but no projects in Franklin County were awarded grants.
Projects submitted statewide for the grants were ranked by citizen committees with expertise in recreation and conservation issues.
“Overall, we have funding for about half the demand,” said Kaleen Cottingham, director of the state Recreation and Conservation Office. “The process ensures that only the best projects rise to the top and receive funding.”
The money comes from seven different grant programs using money from a mix of sources, including federal oil leases, the sale of state bonds, gas taxes and user fees. Most grants require a match from the agency spending the money.
John Dam Plaza Amphitheater
Richland will build a covered stage and amphitheater at the park that has served as a sort of town square since the 1940s. It will be used for plays, concerts, fundraising events, rallies, award ceremonies, recitals, movies and other special events.
A bowl-shaped area for seating on the grass for 2,000 people is planned. Power to the 1,200-square-foot stage and for nearby vendors will be installed.
Richland will contribute $300,000 to match the grant of $300,000 to be paid for by state bonds.
Horn Rapids Motorsports Complex
Richland will remove a 30-year-old modular office building and install a new one, along with four new ticket booths and entry gates. Improvements will be made to the parking lot and entrance to improve safety.
The office building’s roof leaks and it has mold in the walls and a substandard electric system. The new building will have two public restrooms and a public meeting room.
The park has 22,700 visitors a year and there are often long lines at the single ticket booth at the main entrance gate. The park entrance renovations also will address delays caused by recreational vehicles and trailers turning around.
The park draws people from all western states and Canada because of the Tri-City weather and nearly year-round access for motorcycles, all-terrain and four-wheel drive vehicle competitions and recreational use, according to the state.
The $243,500 grant for improvements comes from state gas taxes and off-road highway permits. Richland will contribute $62,800 in staff labor and donations of labor.
An additional $96,600 from the same funding sources will be used to maintain the 300-acre complex for two years. Richland will contribute $108,400 in cash and donations of labor.
Obstacles will be added to the motocross and all-terrain vehicle tracks. A backhoe will be purchased and underground utilities will be replaced.
The goal is to provide a better experience for local and out-of-town visitors, allow for preventive maintenance and decrease down time for repairs, according to the state.
Hanford Legacy Park
Richland will receive $500,000 to build five multipurpose fields and parking for nearly 300 vehicles on 25 acres in Hanford Legacy Park in the Horn Rapids area.
The fields will be used for soccer, lacrosse and football. The park already has four baseball fields.
Richland will contribute $575,685 and the grant money is from the sale of state bonds.
Kennewick will install two picnic shelters, a 1-mile pathway around the 25-acre park, more parking and a restroom.
The park in western Kennewick also will get a community garden and a heritage garden that will be used for education by the school district.
The grant is for $360,198, paid for by state bond sales, and Kennewick will match that with cash, equipment, staff labor, materials and donations.
Crow Butte Park
The Port of Benton will purchase and install playground equipment in Crow Butte Park, a popular local destination for families on the Columbia River.
The nature-inspired playground will have swings, a spinner, slides, a wiggle ladder, a climbing panel, a zip line and a large rock for climbing.
A concrete pathway with solar lights will lead from the new playground to other areas of the park.
The grant is for $167,200 from the sale of state bonds and the port will contribute $182,047 in staff labor and cash donations.
Prosser City Park
The old Prosser City Park restrooms will be demolished and new restrooms built with an $87,800 grant from the sale of state bonds, matched by Prosser with cash, equipment, staff labor and a federal grant.
Two security lights will be added and routes will be improved from the picnic shelters, new disabled parking space and the playground.
Candy Mountain land
A grant of $695,377 from the sale of state bonds will be matched by donated money to buy nearly 195 acres on Candy Mountain south of West Richland for a new regional park.
A trail over the top of the mountain will be built, linking Badger Mountain to Candy Mountain to Red Mountain.