No state capital budget, no Arlington splash pad

ARLINGTON — The water feature envisioned as a centerpiece of the overhauled Haller Park has been put on hold, after years of fundraising and planning, due to lack of progress on a state capital budget.

Dozens of projects around Snohomish County — some of which were in line for tens of thousands of state dollars, others for millions — have been left in the lurch.

The splash pad at Haller Park may not be the largest of the projects, but it’s something the community has waited for and donated to for several years. It’s part of a multi-year redesign of the park aimed at making it a safe, welcoming place for families, combating concerns over drug use and other problems at the riverside hangout. Work has included a new playground, parking area, restrooms and boat launch.

With fundraising headed by the Rotary Club and more than $500,000 from the Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians, the project had drawn more than $660,000 in local dollars as of this spring. Past Great Stilly Duck Dash events, which pit rubber ducks against each other in a race down the river, raised money toward funding the splash pad.

The plan was to start building the water play area this summer after Fourth of July festivities at Haller. But then, at the end of the longest legislative session in state history, Washington lawmakers failed to pass a capital budget. It contained, as part of a lengthy list of allocations, money for state Recreation and Conservation Board grants.

About $500,000 in recreation grant money had been requested for the splash pad in Arlington. Planners put the project on hold to wait for the outcome on that grant, now frozen along with the rest of the $4.2 billion in the proposed capital budget. The Recreation and Conservation Board informed the city that money is not available at this time due to the budget, but to prepare for their project, said Sarah Lopez, recreation manager for the city.

Such grants are used to reimburse the cost of projects. However, any work done before a contract is in place with the state won’t qualify for reimbursement, so the city needs to wait on construction until the money is available and a contract can be signed. In the meantime, design work and engineering are underway, Lopez said.

The hope had been to open the splash pad next summer. That’s looking less and less likely.

“We can’t make any promises now,” Lopez said. “We don’t know how long this is going to take for the government to finalize their budget.”

Lawmakers reached an impasse over the capital budget due to their inability to agree on how to address a state Supreme Court decision concerning water supply and wells.

Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; kbray@heraldnet.com.

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