Community

Local groups boosted by new county grant program

King County has awarded $16,000 in grants to a wide variety of Vashon projects, from new welcome signs at the ferry docks to a survey of the Island’s shoreline.

The grants come as part of the county’s Community Service Area program, which it implemented earlier this year as a new way to engage citizens of unincorporated King County. Funding that once sustained various unincorporated area councils — including the Vashon-Maury Island Community Council — is now being funneled to Community Engagement Grants available to any nonprofit with a vision for a project that would enhance its community.

Alan Painter, CSA program manager, said Vashon had more grant applications than any other unincorporated area and also received the most grants.

“I think Vashon is a very organized and engaged community; they took great opportunity with this grant,” he said. “We applaud them for their energy.”

The VMICC received one of six grants handed out on Vashon. Tim Johnson, president of the council, said the $2,500 it received will cover much of the defunded council’s operating expenses for the year.

“That goes a long ways toward helping us not have to fundraise so much,” he said. “We can focus on the things we need to be doing instead of asking for cash.”

One of the largest grants went to the  Chamber of Commerce, which received $3,000 to build welcome signs at the north- and south-end ferry docks.

Chamber director Jim Marsh said the project was recommended by architecture students with the county’s Storefront Studio program and may include kiosks with benches and maps for visitors. The chamber hopes to find additional funding and complete the project by Strawberry Festival 2013.

“(The grant) may inspire people to say they want to be a part of this, too,” he said.

Welcome Vashon, teaming up with Seeds for Success, garnered $2,500 to start a community time bank. Dan Kaufman, who heads the group,  said a community time bank would allow Islanders to offer their services, from babysitting to legal work, in exchange for credits to use on other Islanders’ services.

Kaufman said Eastern King County has operated a successful time bank, and he thinks the project will take off on Vashon. The CSA grant will be enough to purchase the needed computer software and start a website.

“There’s already a strong culture of mutual help on Vashon,” he said. “This would be a way to organize it and to expand people’s networks.”

Among the other grants, Bike Vashon — a group that organized earlier this year to oppose the creation of rumble strips on Vashon Highway — was awarded $3,500. It will use the funds to begin an initiative to make the Island more safe and friendly for cyclists and pedestrians.

Voice of Vashon received $2,000 to rebuild its website. The new website, which it calls a media platform, will integrate VoV’s various services, provide on-demand contents and allow users to submit their own content. VoV has been fundraising for the new website for months, said Jeanne Dougherty, and the grant has helped them reach their goal.

Finally, Vashon College received $2,000 to begin an ambitious project to survey and map Vashon’s 50-mile shoreline, collecting a wide set of data to help Vashon residents or government agencies with future shoreline management issues.

The county awarded 24 grants totaling $60,000 in unincorporated King County. The grants require a minimum community match of 25 percent of the total project.

 

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