County pays for some work at Wenberg park

STANWOOD — Snohomish County’s takeover of a lakefront park from the state last year wasn’t free after all.

Ongoing septic-system upgrades at the former Wenberg State Park on the shores of Lake Goodwin are expected to cost the county at least $96,000.

Still, that’s not much money for lakefront real-estate.

“That’s all the money we have in it,” said County Councilman John Koster, whose district includes the park. “That park fills up pretty darn fast. It’s a highly used, well-used park.”

The state also held on to the deed for the property as the sewer project lagged, preventing the county from collecting a $5 gate fee to support operating costs.

Wenberg was one of several parks the state parks system tried to hand off last year as a way to save money. Snohomish County was the first local government to accept the offer. It would get Wenberg for free, but agreed to keep it open to the public.

From the handoff in July through the end of the year, the county spent $72,000 to run the park and took in $70,000 in revenue. That was without the gate fee, which could go into effect as soon as the county receives the deed.

The county expects that to happen within a week or two, deputy parks director Hal Gausman said.

As part of the deal, Washington state promised to finish work on the park’s septic system before handing it over. State officials have said they would pay $439,000, but that the county would have to pay if the price tag rises above that.

With the latest change to the scope of work by the contractor, that means the county will have to pay about $96,000.

“We gotta have that septic system in place,” Koster said. “As long as the state was doing the construction on it, they wouldn’t actually give us the title on the park, so we couldn’t collect the fees.”

Further complications might push the price to about $150,000 total, according to a presentation to the County Council on Monday. The money would come out of mitigation fees already collected for a parks district in the Stanwood area.

The County Council on Monday passed two motions to approve the extra work by a 4-0 vote.

“We have been working closely with the state during this project and believe the work is almost complete,” said Gausman, the deputy parks director.

Soil conditions complicated work on septic drain lines, pushing up the cost of the project, he said.

The park remains open despite the ongoing work. It includes 46 acres on Lake Goodwin. It has a boat launch, a small beach for swimming and camping sites.

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465, nhaglund@heraldnet.com.

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