Fundraising efforts paying off for Big Howe

Efforts to fix up Big Howe field near the Queen Anne Community Center got a boost in June when the Department of Neighborhoods awarded the project a $100,000 matching grant.

But organizers of the Big Howe Improvement Project - a.k.a. B-HIP - still have a ways to go before they come up with the $418,000 needed for the total cost of the project.

It could have been worse. Project organizers originally thought the price tag would be half a million dollars, based on preliminary research into proj-ects of a similar size in Seattle, said B-HIP co-chair Eleni Ledesma. "But we really tried to scale back and be frugal."

The group so far has raised roughly $86,000 toward the matching-grant portion, she said. The money came from community fundraising efforts, grants, the sale of B-HIP T-shirts at Pat's on the Ave and a pledge from the Metropolitan Market to donate 1 percent of total grocery receipts B-HIP collects, Ledesma said. "People can mail their receipts to us."

The project also secured another Department of Neighborhoods Small and Simple matching grant of $15,000 earlier this month, she said. In addition, the group is negotiating with the Queen Anne Soccer League to stage a kick-a-thon this fall in which players get pledges based on how far they kick the ball, Ledesma said. "And that looks pretty promising.

"Also in the planning stages are an Oktoberfest and a harvest auction to raise money," she said. Ledesma added that she has submitted grant applications to Safeco and the King County Sports Youth organization, both of which are supposed to reply by late September. "Those two would total something like $70,000."

A Department of Neighborhoods deadline is involved, although what that means is unclear. "They wanted to see us raise a majority of the money by the end of October, which I thought was really unprecedented," said Le-desma, adding she's not sure whether the deadline applies to just the $100,000 matching grant or to the whole price tag.

"I feel very confident," Ledesma said of raising the necessary money. One reason for that is that community support for the project has been overwhelming, she said. "People from all sections of our hill have been coming forward. People are saying, 'Let's make this happen.'"

The next step will be to draw up construction plans for the project, and two public meetings will take place this fall, when the public can pick which kind of playground equipment they would prefer, Ledesma said.

Information about the project and ways to donate can be found at

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