Legislative Comments

Comments on “Proposed Changes to the
Youth Athletic Facilities Grant Program (YAF)"

Recreation and Conservation Funding Board (RCFB) Members
Kaleen Cottingham, Executive Director, Recreation & Conservation Office (RCO)
Adam Cole, Natural Resource Policy Specialist, RCO

Doug Levy, State Lobbyist, Washington Recreation & Park Association (WRPA) – on behalf of
President Al Vorderbrueggen, WRPA Executive Board, and WRPA Legislative Committee

Comments on “Proposed Changes to the Youth Athletic Facilities Grant Program (YAF)

Appreciate these efforts – please let us know how else we can engage


RCFB Members, Kaleen, and Adam:

These comments serve as the WRPA’s Executive Board and Legislative Committee response to the RCO’s staff-recommended changes and options regarding the Youth Athletic Facilities (YAF) grant program.

We very much appreciate your efforts to date and would ask for confirmation that you’ve received and reviewed these comments.  Additionally, we would love to have an additional opportunity for dialogue on these recommendations before the RCO’s policy changes are finalized.

We have structured this response so as to first answer the “Policy Statements and Questions” posed in your draft, and then to reply to the Table of Recommendations.

Policy Statements (and Questions) – WRPA Responses:

  • Do you support a separate “Small Grants Category” for smaller communities:  While we understand the thinking that has gone into proposing a Small Grants category, we have some concerns about diluting the pot of available funds for YAF.  We would recommend that a Small Grants category only be established if sufficient funding is made available by the Legislature – perhaps using $10 million as a minimum threshold.  The idea would be to bring a new category online only with new funding.  We would also like to see RCO start any Small Grants Category off as a ‘pilot’ program to re-evaluate after a first biennium of use.

  • Is the 10,000 population limit for the Small Grants category too high or too lowToo high.  As we noted at the July 13 RCFB meeting, based on OFM Population data, 197 of 281 Washington cities are 10,000 population or fewer.  We would rather see the RCO utilize a 5,000-population threshold that matches up with another existing program (the TIB Small Cities pavement program) and which still enables 160 cities to be eligible.  The 5,000 would cover both cities and Metropolitan Park Districts (MPDs)/Park Districts – in terms of population served.

  • Rather than population, should a threshold of eligibility be based on an applicant’s assessed valuationWe think the 5,000 population is a good proxy for cities.  We would recommend the 5,000-population threshold be extended to unincorporated areas (see Table of Recommendations response to counties segment) and to MPDs/Park Districts as noted above.  

  • For the Small Grants category, is the maximum grant and total project cost too low?  No.

  • Should the Small Grants category have a different evaluation criteria?  No.

  • Should the Small Grants category be for renovation and new construction but not acquisition of land?  Yes, we think that would be wise.

  • Should the Small Grants category allow for projects that do not include “in-bound” elements?  No.  We think the category should be kept as consistent as possible with the general category.

Table 1:  Recommended Policy Changes in the YAF Program

  1. Eligible Projects:  We agree with and appreciate the Option 2/Staff Recommendation to expand eligible project types to include both renovation and “New” project types.

  2. Add a separate new grant category termed “Small Grant”:  We suggest any such category be conditioned on sufficient funding, contain a funding limit, and be termed a pilot so as to require re-evaluation, and utilize “Option 3: “5000”’ criteria.  Again, that is still allowing 160 of 281 cities to be eligible.

    Related Policies for Options 2-4

    1. Small Grant projects compete against one another and not against larger projects:  Agree.

    2. The population does not apply to non-profits or counties.  We think RCO should utilize a similar population threshold for counties as it uses for cities – the 5,000 threshold.

    3.  Projects proposed by counties must be in an unincorporated area…with a population of 10,000 or less:  We would recommend this figure be changed to 5,000 to be consistent with the threshold utilized for cities.

    4.  Allocate a proportional percentage amount of any YAF appropriation to the Small Grants category.  We agree this is important to do.

    5. Projects implementing ADA improvementsshall be an eligible stand-alone…No ‘in-bounds’ elements are required:  We are OK with this approach but don’t understand the wrinkle of ‘No in-bounds’ elements are required.’  Why not?

  3. Grant Limits – Maximum Grant Request:  We see the staff recommendation is $350,000 and while we appreciate that level as an improvement over current policy ($250,000 limit), we would ask that RCO utilize “Option 2 - $500,000.”  We do so because of the multi-million dollar costs of field projects, lighting, etc.  If staff and the Board utilize the $350,000 limit, we would ask that the policy include language indicating a $500,000 figure be re-evaluated at the end of the next Capital Budget cycle.  We are in agreement with the $75,000  max for small grants.

  4.  Matching share waivers and reductions:  We are in support of the staff recommendation to utilize newly-developed waiver/reduction policies done for the WWRP local parks, trails, water access categories.

  5. Evaluation criteria:  We are in support of the staff recommendation to retain the substance of existing evaluation criteria while striking the term ‘renovation’ and ‘renovated’ and thus aligning the policy with recommended policy changes.