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Soap Lake opens new basketball courts

by Rebecca Pettingill
Staff Writer | September 20, 2022 1:00 AM

SOAP LAKE - After several years of challenges, Smokiam Park in Soap Lake has a new basketball court for community members to enjoy.

“This has been a long process,” said Mona Kaiser, head of the Soap Lake Park and Recreation Committee.

She explained the entire process, from the original idea and design to completion, has been about four years in the making.

The project started in 2018 when initial schematics for the idea of a full-size basketball court at the park were considered with a landscape architect. In the spring of 2019, the committee applied for a grant through the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office.

“I think that there were 12 (organizations) that were awarded money; different cities, different parks,” said Kaiser. “And we were number 13.”

If a recipient cannot meet the requirements for one reason or another, the grant is then awarded to the next group in line. In December of 2020, the committee was notified that Soap Lake was selected for the grant due to another group having to forfeit.

One of the stipulations of the grant required the city to ‘match’ a certain percentage of the funds. According to Kaiser, the City was required to contribute about $25,000 of the over $200,000 grant. The City of Soap Lake contributed about $5,000 while the rest came from donations and fundraisers from members of the community, business owners and friends of Soap Lake.

“When we applied for that grant, the city was feeling comfortable that they would have the money to put in their fair share,” said Kaiser. “Well then COVID-19 happened and then some difficulties at the city happened and they did not have the money.”

Kaiser said the committee, which is all volunteer, turned to the public who stepped up and raised the needed money.

“That was just heartwarming,” said Kaiser.

The $25,000 match goal was reached in March of 2021, a release on the City of Soap Lake’s website said. In another release in Sept. 2021, it was announced that construction bids for the project would be requested that fall with plans for completion of the courts in 2022. ESF Solutions LLC, Walla Walla, was selected and brought the project to life. Construction began in mid-August and over this past weekend, final steps were completed on the court and it was ready for use.

The court features orange and blue colors. Kaiser said the blue represents the Soap Lake School District color and the orange is a color on the city’s official palette.

“We held more than one meeting for public input,” said Kaiser.

Rebecca Pettingill may be reached at rpettingill@columbiabaisnherald.com.

photo

Courtesy photo/Alison Gooding

Construction of the new basketball court began in mid-August.

photo

Rebecca Pettingill/Columbia Basin Herald

Over the weekend, the final touches were added to the new basketball court at Smokiam Park. The court was painted blue and orange to match the city’s official color palette and the Soap Lake School District color.

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