Governor vetoes state park facility, OKs hatchery dam

April 25, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

NEW — 9:45 p.m. April 25, 2012

Gov. Chris Gregoire eliminated $3.1 million for a proposed concession and event facility at Lake Sammamish State Park, but approved $4 million to replace a problem-plagued Issaquah Salmon Hatchery dam Tuesday.

Cheryl Pflug

The governor struck the state park facility from the supplemental budget before authorizing more than $1 billion in public works spending.

State Sen. Cheryl Pflug, a Maple Valley Republican and the representative for Issaquah, lambasted the decision to eliminate the state park project. Pflug joined other senators to pressure the governor to preserve funding for the facility.

“I challenged it myself, of course, but I also enlisted a team of Senate leaders — the Senate operating-budget and capital-budget leaders and the chairman of the Senate Natural Resources Committee,” Pflug said. “They quickly called the governor’s office and expressed their desire that the funding be preserved.”

Pflug said the timing left little time to change the outcome.

“Unfortunately, the two-hour notice we received regarding the impending veto was not enough time to identify, let alone resolve, the underlying problems,” she said.

The funding for the planned state park facility included $1 million from long-term bonds. Gregoire vetoed the project due to concerns about the facility not generating enough revenue to cover the initial operating costs, as well as bond-related debt. The state parks agency lacks other revenue sources to cover the costs if necessary.

Pflug said the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission estimated the cost of paying off the bonds at $170,000 per year, against $250,000 in projected revenue per year. The senator said the agency did not identify a revenue source.

“Is the parks commission saying the concession facility would generate $250,000 in new revenue, or is that $250,000 already being derived from current fees, with no allowing for the additional revenue from the concession facility?” she asked in a statement released Wednesday. “We need those answers, and more — like why the projected annual surplus of $80,000 is not adequate. How much overhead is being attributed to this facility?”

Gregoire’s office joined Pflug in questioning the numbers.

“This isn’t over yet. Our community has contributed a lot of money and labor to building and maintaining recreational enhancements at Lake Sammamish State Park. We also drive a fair amount of revenue in the form of current use fees,” Pflug said. “The parks commission had better think again if it believes it can thank us for our donation and siphon all the funds off to pay for other facilities.”

Meanwhile, Gregoire approved funding for a project to demolish the aging dam upstream from the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery and add boulder weirs in Issaquah Creek.

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