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City receives WWRP grant for Redmond Central Connector
This money will go toward funding Phase 2 of the trail park, extending it from just east of the Sammamish River up to the 9900 block of Willows Road Northeast.
Carolyn Hope, a senior planner for the City of Redmond, said the RCC is made up of three phases and Phase 3 will extend the trail from the 9900 block of Willows Road Northeast to the city line at Northeast 124th Street.
The city has entered a contract with Otak, Inc., a multidisciplinary design firm from Kirkland, to design the next phase of the RCC and Hope said they are working to have 30 percent plans complete by September and 60 percent plans by the end of this year.
"Our goal is (to have) final plans and (documents) by next spring," she said.
A PROGRAM TO BENEFIT ALL
The WWRP is a grant program through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition (WWRC), an organization made up of more than 280 businesses, recreation groups, nonprofits and more, who all work to ensure access to the outdoors for all Washington residents.
Frances Dinger, spokesperson for WWRC, said the grant program is administered by the state's capital construction budget, and for the 2014-15, $65 million has been allocated to the WWRP. This allows them to help fund more than 80 projects statewide. Dinger said these projects include local parks, trails and farms as well as state parks.
"It benefits everyone," she said about WWRP.
Dinger said applicant projects are ranked by a group of independent experts who "ensure that only the best projects get the funding," adding that the RCC was ranked very high in the local trails category.
State Sen. Andy Hill from Redmond, who sits on the board of directors for the WWRP, likes the panel of experts because they are objective in ranking the projects.
"It kind of takes the politics out of it," he said.
Hill and his family are big on the outdoors and so he understands the importance of having access to parks and trails. When Microsoft Corp. was recruiting him about 23 years ago to work for them, he received a brochure with a list of 100 things to do outside in the Seattle area. Hill — whose personal list of favorite outdoor activities includes hiking, backpacking, skiing, kayaking and paddle boarding — said businesses are able to draw people to Washington because of the state's natural beauty.
"It's critical that we take care of our parks and recreation and access to the outdoors," he said.
MULTIPLE FUNDING SOURCES
In addition to his role on the WWRP board, Hill is also the chair of the Senate Ways and Means committee, which is responsible for developing operating and capital budgets. This includes the $65 million that has been allocated to the WWRP.
"This is a significant improvement from the previous biennium," Dinger said about how much the program is receiving.
She said the amount WWRP varies from biennium to biennium. In the last biennium — in the middle of the economic recession — the program received $42 million. WWRP received $100 million in the biennium before that, she said.
In order to receive a grant from WWRP, Dinger said applicants must also provide a match in funds, either with cash or donated labor and materials.
"We have a $1.1 million match," Hope said about how the city will match the WWRP grant.
In addition to the city and WWRP contributions, she said Redmond has also received another $500,000 grant from the Washington State Department of Transportation's Pedestrian and Bicycle Program as well as $1.3 million from the state's Department of Commerce. This brings the total funds available for Phase 2 of the RCC to $3.4 million.
Feet First, a nonprofit in Seattle that promotes walkable communities throughout Washington, is also donating about $1,500 in labor. Hope said this will most likely be removing invasive plant species along the trail.