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No support for parks and rec coordinator leaves local commissioners scrambling for other ideas

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Sunnyside Public Works Supervisor Shane Fisher (left) and Parks and Recreation commissioners Bob Sarmiento and Kari Zapata discuss parks and recreation programs.

Last night (Wednesday) the Sunnyside Parks and Recreation Commission concluded an alternative plan for the development of parks and recreation programs is needed due to the Sunnyside City Council's reluctance to hire a program coordinator.

Commission Chair Kari Zapata said she has had some discussions with Councilman Mike Farmer regarding the status of the city's budget and the lack of support for a coordinator.

Zapata said Farmer suggested the council might be more willing to provide funding for programs if the parks and recreation commission was to contract with outside organizations for specific programs.

For instance, Sunnyside's Promise could coordinate a six-week basketball program or Max Saldana of the Sunnyside Grid Kid program might be willing to coordinate a six-week flag football program.

Zapata said she and Farmer discussed the idea and believe contracting with such organizations may be the best course of action.

She also indicated, "Council received the idea pretty well."

Commissioner Bob Sarmiento asked about the programs, inquiring how they may be organized.

Zapata said Sunnyside could take an approach much like the city of Grandview, specifying programs could be set for a limited period of time. The funding would need approval from the city council, but the parks and rec commission would be tasked with reviewing applications from outside organizations for the various programs.

The commission would provide guidance to the organizations.

Because Zapata mentioned Sunnyside's Promise as a possibility for coordinating some of the programs, Sunnyside Public Works Supervisor Shane Fisher asked if the organization is willing to partner with the city for such an endeavor.

Zapata told the commission Sunnyside's Promise Director Mark Baysinger is open to such an idea, but he doesn't yet know the organization's funding status for 2012. "He doesn't know if the city is going to continue to fund Sunnyside's Promise for the operation of the community center," said Zapata.

She said if the city continues to fund the contract with the organization for the operation of the community center, Baysinger sees the benefits of coordinating parks and recreation programs.

"He believes it could benefit kids served by Sunnyside's Promise, as well as other kids who don't use their programs," said Zapata.

Hearing there may be support from organizations like Sunnyside's Promise and the Sunnyside School District, the commissioners consented to Zapata's further exploration regarding possible funding for contracted programs.

Also discussed last night was the status of additions to the comprehensive plan and the installation of new playground equipment at Sunnyside's Central Park.

The comprehensive plan updates have not yet been completed because Fisher hasn't had the opportunity to review them.

City Planner Jamey Ayling was tasked with providing the updates to Fisher for review, but Fisher said he hasn't received them yet.

As for the installation of the playground equipment, Fisher said the city has been seeking bids from its small works roster. One company, PS Northwest, is due to look over the plans for the equipment in the near future.

It was suggested that a local business may be willing to donate time and labor to toward the effort, much like Columbia River Steel donated time and labor for Grandview's playgrounds.

Fisher said he may seek out local companies that might be willing to help with the installation.

A review of parks and recreation fees was also on the agenda, and Fisher said he is working on developing a spreadsheet with fees assessed in other communities to make the commission's review easier.

He said there are facilities in different cities that Sunnyside doesn't possess; therefore the commission will need to carefully scrutinize each fee.

The next Sunnyside Parks and Recreation Commission meeting is slated for Nov. 30.

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