Enumclaw accepts grant to improve Expo Center

Council also makes progress on changes to who manages the city cemetery, makes natural gas service to Auburn residents official

Some much-needed improvements are coming to the Enumclaw Expo Center, now that the city has accepted a grant totaling nearly $340,000.

The money will pay for improvements carried out during the next year, according to Scott Gray, who runs the Expo Center for the Enumclaw Expo and Events Association.

“It’s huge,” Gray said, referring to the action taken Sept. 12 by the Enumclaw City Council. By a unanimous vote, the council accepted funds allocated by the state legislature. The city had worked with state Rep. Christopher Hurst to obtain the money and, after a state agency collected its fees, the city received $339,500.

With the money now secured, the city and the EEEA have identified five priorities. While the nonprofit Expo and Events Association manages the grounds and facilities, the city owns the 72-acre Expo Center and all it entails.

Here’s what’s on the improvement list: replacement of the roof on the Activity Hall; remodeling of the Activity Hall restroom; electrical improvements to the south parking lot; floor coating in both the Exhibit Hall and Activity Hall; and painting of the ceiling in the Exhibit Hall.

The state grant is just one source of money for the Expo Center, which brought some juggling of funds to best accomplish the improvement goals.

The city of Enumclaw had put $110,000 in its 2016 budget for the restroom remodel, taking money from a cash reserve handed over by King County in 2007 when the county gave the former fairgrounds to the city. With the transaction, the county provided one pot of money for capital improvements and another for operations.

Also in the funding mix was a $77,000 grant the EEEA had secured from King County 4Culture for work at the fieldhouse on the Expo Center grounds. Because the grant required a financial match, the city money was redirected to the fieldhouse, with state dollars shifted to the bathroom remodel.

In the end, the desired improvements brought an estimate of $480,500. Because the city still has King County money that was handed over in 2007, the projects were approved by the City Council. Approximately $140,500 will be pulled from the Expo Center’s capital reserve fund, which will be whittled to a remaining balance of about $73,000.

In other action during the Sept. 12 meeting, the council:

• authorized the mayor to enter into a 20-year franchise agreement with the city of Auburn. It was considered a “housekeeping” measure that allows Enumclaw to provide natural gas services to some Auburn residents. The system is already in place and operating, just needed to be made official. The Auburn council had already passed a similar measure, which carries no financial obligation for Enumclaw.

• took a first step toward repealing one part of the Enumclaw Municipal Code and adding a new section, both relating to the operation of the city-owned cemetery. For the past few years, Weeks’ Funeral Homes has had a contract to manage Enumclaw Memorial Gardens; the new clause in the EMC simply reflects that change to an independent operator. Also, at Weeks’ request, the sum directed to an endowment is being increased. The money is set aside to maintain the cemetery once it is filled and there are no new revenues. It’s anticipated the council will take a final vote on the matter during its Sept. 26 meeting.

 

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