Tonasket Water Ranch construction gets go-ahead

Splash-ParkTONASKET – The Tonasket Water Ranch spray park will begin to appear at Chief Tonasket Park in earnest on Sept. 8 after much of the summer was spent working permitting issues for water drainage.

For a time it looked as if the park would need to be hooked up to the city sewer system, which would have added significant expense (as well as regulatory red tape) to the privately-funded project.

Linda Black, who has coordinated the project from the start and spent much of the past two years fundraising, said she is almost ready to breathe a sigh of relief.

“We’re ready to get it built and done,” she said. “I don’t have to raise any more money. I’m getting arthritis in my wrist; I’m having to re-learn how to socialize, how to shake hands without begging for money.”

Black has raised more than $200,000 in cash for the project, plus nearly another $100,000 in donated materials and volunteer labor.

Originally slated for construction in early July, the project was delayed thanks to a lack of policy in Central Washington regarding the drain-off from splash parks. Black’s husband Tom helped pull together a number of different parties, and together the group came up with an alternative that satisfied everyone involved.

“Everyone was really cooperative,” Tom Black said. “They were throwing ideas back and forth. I was in charge of drainage, but everyone was very helpful and together we came up with the design.

“It’s called a “swale” (or swail) and it’s a passive method of draining from structures, like spray parks or parking garages. And there’s no pumps involved so it’s less expensive.”

The Blacks, city superintendent Hugh Jensen, building and permit administrator Christian Johnson, contractor Ty Olson and two other city employees met last week to finalize the plan.

“Sept. 8 is our firm building date,” Linda Black said. “We had the time sketched out in July, but we weren’t ready, so whatever worked for Ty was going to be fine with us. We just wanted a firm date to go with.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to open it for a bit this fall, but for sure it’ll be open as soon as the weather gets hot next summer.”

About Brent Baker

Brent is a reporter for the Gazette-Tribune. Prior to working at the G-T, he was the sports editor for Sunrise Publishing from 2000-2005 in Michigan. He subsequently owned and operated Buckland Media, a high school sports website, in Michigan until 2010. He and his wife Kim, who have an adult son, moved to Tonasket in 2010. Brent started work at the G-T in 2011.

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