Ground Breaking--Finally!

The Arlington City Council on July 2 accepted the low bid from Reece Construction to build the splash pads at Haller Park.  It is a project spearheaded by our Rotary Club.
For our 25th year of the Great Stilly Duck Dash, we raised funds with various partners to build a playground at Haller Park.  It has been loved by our community with lots of kids using it daily.  It has also helped clean up the park and make it family friendly.
Soon after the playground was complete, a decision was made to turn our efforts to adding a splash park to the playground.  Linda Byrnes and Bryce Duskin, who chaired the playground project, took on the task of chairing the splash pad project.  The momentum from the playground project brought much energy to the splash pad project.  What started out as a $375,000 project, with a $50,000 commitment from our club using Duck Dash revenue from the 2015 event, grew to a $1.2 million project.  Leading in gifts to the project, as it did for the playground, was the Stillaguamish Tribe which donated $550,000.  It became the cornerstone for seeking a state grant.
The State's outdoor recreation commission recommended inclusion of the splash project as part of the 2017 State's capital budget. However, politics got in the way and adoption of the budget was delayed a year as our lawmakers worked on resolving a water rights issue.  The budget was finally approved by the legislature in 2018.
Normally local matching funds can not be used before the state funds are released for the project.  The City applied for and obtained a waiver allowing funds to be used for engineering and to acquire the splash pad fixtures.  With funding secured from the State, it was hoped that we would be in the middle of construction on July 4 of this year.  But, believed to be because of the short time line, only one bid was received for the project--well over the funds available. The City rejected the the bid and sent out a new request for bids this time with a time line more favorable for bidders.  Three bids were received and this time one of them was close to the estimate and was accepted.
With the expectation that construction would have begun, this year's Duck Dash theme was a construction theme.  It was a natural then to have a ceremonial groundbreaking at the Haller Park on the 4th of July. 
The timing created an interesting twist.  On July 1 Paul Ellis, the Arlington City Administrator, became the president of our Rotary Club.  He organized the groundbreaking ceremony which involved Mayor Barb Tolbert, Stillaguamish Tribal Chair Shawn Yanity, and the children who were at the event.  Other elected officials were present, but it was the kids (with some parental help) who were given the golden shovels to turn the first dirt with the dignitaries and Rotarians standing by.
It's All About the Kids!
The area where Haller Park is now located has special meaning to the Stillaguamish Tribe.  As Tribal Chair Shawn Yanity explained, it was a meeting place for the tribe, where relatives would come up river for a visit, go to other villages, and to fish and hunt.  Mayor Tolbert was asked to join in a drum beat symbolizing the joining of the two communities.  A chant which normally asks the salmon to come to the river was changed by Yanity to ask the children to come to the river.