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Rebuilding Castle Park could cost $300K

It may take a king’s ransom to repair much-loved Castle Park.

According to a budget estimate released last week, it may cost as much as $300,000 to repair the wooden play structure at Community Park.

The South Whidbey Parks & Recreation District held a budget workshop Aug. 30 to go over the big ticket items that may be a part of next year’s spending plan. Parks executive director Terri Arnold and maintenance supervisor Tom Fallon offered the district board a line-item description of needs in the park.

One of the big fix-it projects is Castle Park, the wooden playground on Maxwelton Road built in 1991.

The structure has deteriorated over the years from weather damage, and the added wear-and-tear of thousands of children climbing through and over the expansive structure’s nooks and crannies.

“We are facing a pivotal time,” Arnold told board members. “It needs renovation but no local company will touch it.”

Instead, the parks district plans on flying in a representative from the original creators from New York to do a survey of the playset.

On an almost daily basis, Fallon has to carefully check the bottom of the posts for rot. He also repairs old tires, replaces nuts and bolts, and removes splinters that could hurt kids.

It will cost $3,000 for the study, but Arnold noted that people are very attached to the park.w

“Safety standards in the playground industry have tightened. It makes sense to get him here and show us what needs to be done,” she added.

The parks district is considering going to the public early next year with an estimated $2.7 million capital projects “mini-bond” designed to pay for the renovations at Castle Park and other improvements.

Other projects include the purchase of the Island Greens golf course on French Road, the construction of new picnic shelters, the installation of better drainage under the ball fields, paving and a new roof for the district’s administrative building.

Apart from Castle Park, the estimated costs for other big ticket items include the golf course at $1.5 million, paving for $315,000, field drainage at $240,000 and dirt field improvements at $150,000.

District voters may face two other ballot measures in the coming year beyond the “mini-bond.”

The district must renew its maintenance- and-operations tax levy, and district officials have also talked about another bond measure that would pay for a community pool.w

The new two-year M&O levy is expected to be assessed at the same rate as the current levy, 15 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. For a median-priced home valued at $400,000, the levy will be $60 a year.

The potential price tag of bond improvements, and the impact on property owners, is still up in the air as the total amount for the “mini-bond” has not yet been set.

The parks district last went to voters for a capital projects bond in April 2000, when voters approved a bond of nearly $1.3 million to buy 30 acres of new park land. The bond also paid for new soccer fields, trails, parking and restroom facilities.

The final budget will be presented at the next parks district meeting. The meeting is 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 19 at the Community Health Services building, 5475 Maxwelton Road.

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