More campsites are wanted at Connelly Park

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Bill Baily, of Moses Lake,watched while Rep. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, votes on improvements to Connelly Park/Airmen's Beach

MOSES LAKE - The public voted to add 25 camping spots at Connelly Park near Moses Lake during a Moses Lake Irrigation and Rehabilitation District meeting Thursday.

MOSES LAKE - The public voted to add 25 camping spots at Connelly Park near Moses Lake during a Moses Lake Irrigation and Rehabilitation District meeting Thursday.

Bill Bailey, of Moses Lake, said Grant County has historically been short on camping areas.

"Grant County needs camping spaces, there's no question on my mind about that," he said.

The meeting was the second this summer concerning required improvements to Connelly Park.

About 12 people attended the event at Moses Lake High School, which also included staff and some board members with the Moses Lake Irrigation and Rehabilitation District.

Other ideas and the number of votes they received are as follows:

4 trails and educational activities

3 airmen's memorial and picnicking

2 boating and outdoor classrooms

1 vendor sales

1 water sports

1 fishing

1 adding a store

1 no change

The district is required to develop the land for recreational purposes, according to a contract it has with the U.S. Government Services Administration.

The park is formerly known as Airmen's Beach because airmen from nearby Larson Air Force Base used to swim there before the base closed.

Kamela Potratz, of ALSC architects, said during the last meeting, everyone came up with a lot of great ideas.

"Everyone participated and I think everyone had a chance to say what they wanted to say. We started to see there were some trends," she said. "In camping, we had several items related to camping. So we can start to combine those vote areas, with the idea we want to improve camping at the park."

Dennis Kauffman, of Moses Lake, said he wanted the park left alone because he didn't want it to be an amusement park for people in Seattle.

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it," Kauffman said.

He left before voting, but meeting organizers added his preference for no change during voting.

Rep. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake, said she could understand his concern, as the area might lose what it was originally intended for.

The idea of having a memorial for airmen was also discussed.

Board member Rich Archer said his father served in the Air Force and thought there should be some type of memorial.

Bailey said Clint Connelly was instrumental in irrigation and promoting irrigation.

"To me, an airman's memorial would be an actual memorial to the men and women of the Air Force. It ought to be a physical thing," Bailey said.

Former board member Richard Teals said he would like Connelly honored and doesn't want to see the area revert to Airman's Beach.

"Airman's Beach and the improvements at Connelly Park wouldn't have happened except for Clint Connelly and the ideas he supported," Teals said.

Other ideas discussed include adding a recycling center, an amphitheater, store, fish cleaning area, mixed trail use and boat races.

About 500 people visit Connelly Park daily, said Curt Carpenter, the irrigation district's manager.

The next meeting is set for 7 p.m., Oct. 7, at Moses Lake High School.

The public can learn how their ideas fit on the site and what people attending the Grant County Fair chose at priorities.

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