Budget crisis slows plans for state park upgrade

November 17, 2009

By Warren Kagarise

Ambitious plans for Lake Sammamish State Park include a bathhouse and restroom facility with a green roof and other eco-friendly features. The economic downturn has slowed implementation of the plans. Courtesy: State Parks and Recreation Commission

Ambitious plans for Lake Sammamish State Park include a bathhouse and restroom facility with a green roof and other eco-friendly features. The economic downturn has slowed implementation of the plans. Courtesy: State Parks and Recreation Commission

Ambitious plans to update Lake Sammamish State Park are on hold due to the state budget crisis, although design and permits for the project are almost complete.

Plans call for upgrades to a boardwalk, wetland improvements and construction of a new, eco-friendly bathhouse at the 512-acre state park, nestled against the southern shore of Lake Sammamish. Peter Herzog, a parks planner with the State Parks and Recreation Commission, said the design and permit work were necessary in case state lawmakers steer money to the project“We want to be ready to act immediately on any sort of funds that become available,” he said.

Lawmakers allocated about $565,000 for design and permits in the 2007-09 state budget. Officials hoped to set aside money to complete the initial phase of the project in the 2009-11 state budget, but the economic downturn forced legislators to make deep cuts.

A lifeguard program at Lake Sammamish State Park was eliminated last year during a round of cuts and pared services at state parks.

King County planners took steps last month to approve a permit to construct a new restroom building at the park.

Plans from the State Parks and Recreation Commission call for the construction of a 7,667-square-foot bathhouse and restroom facility at Sunset Beach, on the south side of the lake. The existing restroom at the site would be demolished to make way for the new facility.

The proposed bathhouse design includes a roof planted with vegetation and eco-friendly materials incorporated into the design. Herzog said the bathhouse would cost about $2.9 million. Improvements to a boardwalk at the state park would be about $500,000.

Suggestions for later phases of the park overhaul could include improved concession facilities, though Herzog said plans are not yet firm.

Park Manager Richard Benson said facilities at Lake Sammamish State Park are worn and need to be replaced. He said the existing restroom facilities were built in the 1950s. Besides an outdated architectural style, Benson said the facilities are difficult to keep clean.

Benson said he was not confident state lawmakers would be able to fund the first phase of the project in the next biennium.

Lake Sammamish State Park recorded about 1.5 million visitors between July 2008 and June 2009. Benson said new and upgraded facilities would boost attendance at the park.

Plans to upgrade the park germinated almost a decade ago. Through a series of public meetings, residents asked parks officials and planners for expanded and improved trails, and updates to park facilities.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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