County pleased with Wenberg park after transfer from state

STANWOOD — A lakefront park that Snohomish County took over from the state last summer almost broke even financially — even without a new $5 gate fee county officials have said they will impose.

Washington turned over Wenberg State Park to Snohomish County in July to save money. The county paid nothing for the property, but agreed to keep it open. That meant taking on the cost of running it.

“The county’s interest in operating the park was keeping open a valuable asset,” county spokesman Christopher Schwarzen said.

Wenberg, southeast of Stanwood and northwest of Marysville, includes 46 acres on Lake Goodwin. It has a boat launch, a small beach for swimming and camping sites.

During the second half of the year, the county spent $72,000 to run the park and took in $70,000 in revenue.

The county originally planned to impose a new $5 per vehicle gate fee. The fee has been voluntary since July and brought in about $1,000, Schwarzen said. The county expects to bring in more money than the park costs to operate after making the entry charge mandatory starting some time before next summer.

The county is encouraging people to buy a $70 annual pass that covers parking and launching fees at Wenberg and other county parks, including nearby Kayak Point Park.

County Councilman John Koster, whose district includes Wenberg, was an early champion of the county taking it over.

“Initially, I’m happy with it,” he said. “We didn’t totally recoup our costs on this thing, but once the day-use fee is in, I think we’ll be on the plus side. There’s no doubt in my mind that was a great deal for the county.”

Koster said he’s received no complaints about the gate fee or the county’s no-alcohol rule. The property still could use some improvements, he said, such as in its playground area.

“We’d like to make it a nicer park than it is,” he said. “Not that it’s a bad park.”

The state is completing a $750,000 septic system upgrade at the park, Schwarzen said. The county is investing another $75,000 in that project and other improvements.

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

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