Grant to fund amenities at Juniper Hills
After three years and about 500 hours of work, Bruce Irwin's third try at obtaining a grant for improvements at Juniper Hills Park finally met with success.
On June 21, the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department announced that Jefferson County will receive a $297,000 grant for the Juniper Hills Park Rehabilitation project. With $95,000 in matching funds, the grant will fund a new restroom and concession building adjacent to the three Little League fields, two large picnic shelters, and a paved route between the restrooms and shelters.
"After hundreds of hours of working on the project, adjusting it to answer questions better, listening to the program coordinator and not getting deterred, we finally got it," said Irwin, who worked with Jennifer Holcomb, of Jefferson County Little League, on the grant project. "I didn't do this for myself, I did it for the kids."
Irwin, who moved to Madras in June 2015, decided to help with a grant for the park later that year.
"At one of my first Chamber of Commerce meetings in late 2015, Little League was showing off the dugouts they had completed, and saying how many hours they had put in," said Irwin, noting that the Little League organization was working on projects piece by piece. "I thought, why don't you just write a grant and get it all at once?"
After the meeting, he spoke to Holcomb about his idea, and volunteered to help write a grant. "I found out all that was involved a couple months later," said Irwin, who had to figure out who owned the land, who maintained the land, and then find funds for a conceptual site plan.
In addition to flying over the park, so he could take photos, Irwin spent hours walking and measuring the park, finding out when people were at the park, and when they weren't, and envisioning variables.
"I've done that on every project," said Irwin, who has written about 80 grants over a long career in parks and recreation, and won 65 of those, for a total of $38.5 million. Currently, as the development director for the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs, he estimates that he writes about one grant a month.
"A grant that size takes about 160 hours," said Irwin, who was not successful in his first application for an OPRD grant for the park in 2016, when he applied for a $497,000 grant.
Last year, he scaled the project down and made changes, but again didn't make the cut for funding. "The grant program coordinator, Mark Cowan, worked with us," said Irwin. "He said, 'The third time's a charm.'"
Although the program coordinator is not on the review committee, he was right.
"The county was very fortunate to have Bruce Irwin and Jennifer Holcomb volunteer hundreds of hours over the past three years on the grant applications and presentations," said Jeff Rasmussen, county administrator. "We are very pleased their efforts have finally been rewarded."
The park was built in 1993 on about 102 acres of land donated by the Bean Foundation. Only about 70 acres are currently developed. The last major change to the park occurred in 2002, when the county received several small grants to build the soccer fields and restrooms on the east side of the park.
The new restroom and concession facility will have 10 restroom fixtures, and a storage area behind the concession stand, all to be built on a concrete pad.
Next to the concession stand, in the area of the Little League fields, will be a 40-foot hexagonal shelter, which will have a 25-foot-long, 4-inch-thick counter, with one or two sinks with running water, electrical outlets, 10 6-foot tables and benches, trash receptacles and recycling containers.
"It's 600 lineal feet from the main Little League fields to the main restroom, over a gravel parking lot," said Irwin. "Kids can't navigate through the parking lot. The walkways will connect the east and west ends of the park."
The 8-foot-wide walkways will also provide a smooth surface to make the fields more accessible for everyone.
Near the play area and soccer fields on the east side of the park will be a 36-foot hexagonal shelter with eight 6-foot tables, also installed on a concrete pad.
"The Bean Foundation came through and said, 'If you get the grant, we'll give you $20,000 to add more to the project,'" said Irwin. "It was the icing on the cake."
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