Park and fishing pier join scramble for public funding
The city evaluated the 37-year-old pier in 2008 and found it needed about $1 million in repairs and rehabilitation, mostly to its understory, said Carrie Hite, the city’s director of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services.
On the tail end of the recession, however, the city didn’t have enough money.
“It’s not exactly dangerous right now, but the more we wait the more expensive it will get,” Hite said.
“It has been delayed and delayed,” she said.
The pier is owned by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife but is operated and maintained by the city. The amount of work required makes it a capital project, opening up more funding possibilities.
“It’s more than just maintenance now,” said Tim Burns, assistant director of Fish and Wildlife’s capital projects and asset management program. “And it’s getting close to the end of its useful life.”
The pier is a popular destination for anglers, wildlife watchers and people who just want to spend time out over the water. Hite estimates the pier has 100,000 visitors each year.
Edmonds and the state jointly applied in 2012 for grant money through the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) but were turned down.
The pier was originally built in 1977 with LWCF money, Burns said.
Meanwhile, the pier’s refurbishment price tag has risen to $1.5 million, and the city and state are going back to the grant funding pool to try to raise it.
“We’re trying to do it entirely with grant money, so the city isn’t on the hook for any of it,” Hite said.
They are seeking $400,000 in LWCF money in addition to money from three other sources: another $400,000 from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, $500,000 from the state’s Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account, and another $200,000 from the Legislature, which already has been secured for the current budget cycle.
This piecemeal process of funding public projects is commonplace. The city of Arlington, for example, has been upgrading Haller Park with multiple sources of money.
Paul Ellis, Arlington’s director of community and economic development, said the city is applying for a $100,000 LWCF grant to build a new restroom facility above the flood plain, to lay new sidewalks and to install Web-enabled security cameras.
The balance of the funding has come from $55,000 in mitigation fees tied to the construction of a new wastewater treatment plant and a $50,000 grant from Snohomish County’s Parks and Recreation department.
The Arlington Rotary, meantime, raised money to buy new play equipment for the park and received in-kind donations of labor for the installation and landscaping around the play area.
In addition to grants being somewhat dependent on the state’s budgeting process, such projects also can fall victim to national politics.
The Land and Water Conservation Fund is appropriated by Congress and in its 50-year history has only been fully funded once, said Frances Dinger, spokeswoman for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, a nonprofit which advocates for public money for outdoor projects.
In the last funding cycle, the fund only backed three projects in Washington, with an outlay of $793,030, leaving nine projects unfunded.
Burns said Edmonds and the state are requesting project money from the Legislature of $1 million as a match for the Aquatic Lands Enhancement grant, in case one or more of the other grants doesn’t materialize.
“If we get all these other grants, we won’t use all of it,” Burns said. This year, 22 projects statewide seek LWCF funding.
President Barack Obama has requested full funding of the LWCF — $900 million out of an $11.9 billion Department of the Interior budget — as part of his 2015 budget proposal, but it remains to be seen if it will be in the budget Congress adopts.
When the state Recreation and Conservation Office announces grant recipients this fall, Haller Park or the Edmonds Fishing Pier might find themselves off the list.
Other grants Edmonds is seeking are funded by the Legislature — also a less-than-certain source of money.
If that happens, Hite said, “we can phase the project and go back later for funding.”
Or perhaps the city will look to its own coffers.
Construction could start next summer if the money is there.
Chris Winters: 425-374-4165 or email@example.com.
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