There’s plenty to cheer in overdue capital budget

In Snohomish County, there’s money for a number of projects.

OLYMPIA — Civic leaders expressed relief Friday at passage of a new state capital budget that will infuse tens of millions of dollars into their communities in the coming months.

The budget, passed by the Legislature on Thursday, will spend $4.2 billion around the state on buying, repairing and constructing infrastructure such as schools, colleges, prisons, parks and community centers. Gov. Jay Inslee signed it Friday.

In Snohomish County, there’s money for a number of projects, including a pocket park in downtown Arlington, a new building at Edmonds Community College and an effort to bring affordable and supportive housing to Everett.

Tempering officials’ joy was concern over the potential financial effect to some projects because the budget passed nearly seven months later than anticipated.

Lawmakers were expected to enact the budget in June but it got knotted up with a dispute on a water policy bill. That conflict didn’t get resolved until Thursday. As a result of the impasse, costs for some projects might have climbed.

“We’re relieved that critically important projects in Everett and in Snohomish County will now get the state funding they’ve been counting on,” Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin said. “The new supportive housing units and treatment beds that this capital budget helps pay for are vitally needed in our community, and the unexpected delays in construction have threatened to add to their cost.”

Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling said he was “excited to finally have the capital budget passed.”

The state is contributing $2.25 million toward a new $11 million waterfront community center plus another $500,000 for a beachfront restoration project nearby.

The city also is in line for $391,000 to redo the roof on the Frances Anderson Center. Had the budget passed on schedule, the work might be done. Now, it’s unclear if the sum is going to be enough to cover the tab.

“Certainly we’re concerned and we don’t know all of the answers yet,” Earling said. “The cost of materials and labor may have gone up. We’ll simply have to test the market and find out. It’s critical to get the work done.”

There are two sizable investments in affordable housing in Everett.

HopeWorks Station II, an initiative affiliated with Housing Hope, is in line for $2.76 million. The project, which will break ground on Broadway this spring, will provide housing linked to job training and also provide units for homeless people, as well as low-income families.

“The capital budget decision is a final piece in the puzzle of making HopeWorks Station II a reality,” Ed Petersen, chief strategic officer and founder, HopeWorks Social Enterprises, said in a statement.

Cocoon House, a nonprofit that serves teens, including those who are homeless, will get $1 million for an expanded center on Colby Avenue and $1 million to support ongoing programs.

Its leader said the delay in action has had an effect on the timeline and the bottom line.

“It is our assumption that had the capital budget passed on time, Cocoon House would have more quickly closed out the remainder of the capital fundraising, locked in contractor pricing, and completed design more efficiently,” wrote Joseph Alonzo, interim chief executive officer, in an email.

Some of the other Snohomish County projects in the budget include:

• $46,000 for the pocket park in the Arlington Downtown Business District;

• $99,000 for adding a gym for the Arlington Boys & Girls Club;

• $120,000 for the Lake Stevens Boys & Girls Club to expand its teen center;

• $300,000 for the Lake Stevens food bank;

• $312,000 to remove arsenic contamination from soil in Wiggums Hollow Park in north Everett and reduce the risks of exposure to contamination for children who play in this area.

• $257,000 for the next phase of remediation at the Mukilteo Tank Farm;

• $500,000 for Marysville to connect Olympic View Park with a new trail system;

• $1.09 million for the second phase of developing Whitehorse Trail;

• $1 million for developing Wayne Golf Course Regional Park;

• $721,000 for the Japanese Gulch Creek Restoration Project;

• $3.1 million for Lake Stevens’ planned civic center.

A number of public schools are getting funds either to launch programs or get reimbursed for the state’s share of construction costs.

For example, the Everett School District will receive $2 million to begin developing a Pathways to Medical and Health Careers program at Everett High School. A bond measure on the Feb. 13 ballot contains additional money to complete and launch the program.

And Edmonds Community College will be getting $37.8 million to construct a new Science, Engineering and Technology building. It was the top construction priority of the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges in 2017.

The proposed three-story, 70,000-square-foot building is designed to have 11 classrooms and nine laboratories for physics, chemistry, mathematics, engineering and nursing courses, plus office space. This would be the first new building constructed on campus in nearly a decade.

Costs are climbing and the timeline could be extended because of legislative inaction, officials said.

“Due to the one year delay, we are anticipating approximately a $1.5 million shortfall in construction costs,” said Kevin McKay, the college’s vice president for finance and operations. “​Also, we ​anticipate that ​we will be fighting a crowded construction market, especially with the capital budget suddenly releasing new projects all across the state.”

But that didn’t undercut his excitement — like so many others — that the state had come through with the money at last.

“We are thrilled that the state’s capital budget passed last night and that our STEM building is being funded,” he said.

A list of projects and other budget information can be found online at leap.leg.wa.gov or fiscal.wa.gov.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@herald net.com. Twitter: @dospueblos.

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