Although a $200,000 Snohomish County Tourism Promotion Area grant appeared to have slipped through the Monroe School District’s fingers last month, the district hopes the grant, and the project to create three new ball fields at the high school for which it was to help pay, can be salvaged.
When Monroe High School was built, there was no budget for ball fields.
But reasoning that quality ball fields might draw tournaments, and thus tourism, to Monroe, school district officials thought that the district might qualify for a tourism promotion grant.
The grant is made possible through a self-tax on hotels, the funds from which are given to organizations with projects that can stimulate tourism.
The district applied in December of 2011, and in April of last year, learned they’d been awarded $200,000.
But in order to get the money, the school district would have to supply some matching dollars. Unfortunately for the district, there was no cash to spare. So district officials started trying to identify a source of funding.
Through the summer, they started planning and design of the three new fields, and decided to raise funds by selling timber on some school district property, as well as selling three pieces of property that the district didn’t need.
By February, the city had advertised the timber, which was valued at between $150,000 and $180,000, and Bowman Logging of Monroe was chosen to do the harvesting.
Also in February, the city of Monroe offered to contribute $100,000 from the Parks and Recreation Department.
But the district got a setback when the coordinator of the Tourism Promotion Area grant informed the school that, because the grant hadn’t been spent in the year 2012, the district would have to reapply for either 2013 or 2014.
So this month the district is writing a new grant application, and the three unused school properties have been put up for sale.
Meanwhile, work on the fields continues.
Last week, geologists collected soil samples from the Monroe High School campus. The data from the samples will be used to continue work on the design of three new ball fields.
The district plans a softball field, a baseball field and a multi-use field. The project is costly; drainage, an all-weather playing surface and lights for the softball field alone is estimated at about $900,000.