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Monroe searching for cash for north area park

MONROE — The city will need to rearrange its $5 million funding plan to start developing the new Trombley Park on the north side.
It’s now clear Trombley Park isn’t in the running for a $500,000 grant from the state Recreation and Conservation Office. Monroe also applied for a $2 million federal Land and Water Conservation Fund grant.
The Trombley Park project ranked in the lower third in preliminary rankings for both grants. A selection board at the state office makes the ratings.
How the city asked for money toward infrastructure factored into why it rated poorly when competing for grants that favor play areas, described conservation office spokeswoman Susan Zemek.
The five-acre park would be built in two phases at the southwest intersection of 134th Street SE and 191st Avenue SE, close to the Eaglemont housing developments. The first phase sets up a lot of infrastructure improvements; the second phase envisions playgrounds, a basketball court and a court for tennis and pickleball.
In its federal application, the city wrote that it would put up a $3 million package of matching local funds.
The city is considering a park bond tax measure that would dedicate some of the money toward building Trombley Park.
The park bond could come to voters as soon as 2023 if the City Council says yes to asking voters. In spring 2020, the city withdrew a park bond measure from ballots when the COVID-19 pandemic emerged.
The state’s office scored Trombley Park 51st of 59 different  submissions for local park grants, and scored it 19th of 25 projects for its $2 million federal request.
But by how projects were scored, Monroe’s project was less than 10 points off from making the top 15. “A few missed points can make a big difference,” Zemek said.
The state has $14 million in federal project money to assign. If every project gets its full request, which is not guaranteed, there’s money for just the top 15 or so projects.
The city is always looking for grants, city finance director Becky Hasart said.
If Monroe does win this
$2 million federal grant, the city is allowed time to show it has assembled its $3 million match, Hasart said.
The city uses Real Estate Excise Tax income and park impact fees to pay for park projects. Park bond money could cover what’s remaining for the match, Hasart said.
Zemek, from the state office, described that a few factors dragged the project’s final score. One is that the city’s phase 1 plan asks for money for infrastructures such as trails and picnic shelters, and these typically score worse than funding requests to build active playground equipment. Another is that it is meant as a neighborhood park but this grant request didn’t feature amenities for children (the playground is outlined for the park’s second phase). A third is that the city didn’t have community partners contributing to its package of local match dollars.
The site is named Trombley Park after the Trombley family, who envisioned the site as a city park. Early on, it was known as the North Hill Area Neighborhood Park.
The city bought the land in the past few years.



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