Nothing is guaranteed until final votes are taken, but early news out of Olympia is heartening for a number of Plateau-area projects.
When the state House of Representatives released its proposed 2019-21 capital budget, six Plateau projects were included, aimed at everything from public recreation to water protection, from the booming Tehaleh development to the much-quieter town of Wilkeson. In all, nearly $1.5 million was earmarked for the area.
The entire capital budget totaled $4.6 billion and was expected to be voted on by the entire House of Representatives early this week. The capital budget then heads to the Senate chamber in continuation of the negotiation process. It is anticipated everything will be wrapped up in a little more than three weeks; the 105-day session of the Legislature is slated to adjourn April 28.
Local projects on the early appropriation list include:
• $381,000 to help return a fire lookout tower to Enumclaw’s iconic Mount Peak. Years ago, the state employed fire watchers to staff towers throughout the region and the tower atop Mount Peak was visible for miles around. Lookout towers were taken out of commission and, eventually, the Mount Peak tower was demolished for safety reasons. In recent years, a group of tower fans have mounted an all-volunteer effort to secure funding – and King County approval – to build a new tower on the promontory just south of town.
• $309,000 for a mountain bike park in the rapidly-growing Tehaleh community just south of Bonney Lake. State Rep. Morgan Irwin, whose 31st District includes all of the Plateau, said a portion of the Tehaleh property, on the south side of the development, is too steep for housing. Discussions led to the concept of a park featuring trails for mountain bike enthusiasts.
• $258,000 for the Enumclaw Aquatic Center. The swimming pool, owned by the city and sitting on Enumclaw School District land, is both popular and aging. It is enjoyed by recreational swimmers of all ages, provides swim lessons to thousands of kids and is home to Enumclaw High’s competitive swimming and water polo programs, plus Special Olympics. But the entire facility, built in the 1970s as part of King County’s Forward Thrust initiative, is wearing down. The City Council commissioned studies, heard from a citizen advisory group and recently voted to spend money on the most-needed repairs. That will buy time until a long-range plan of action is determined.
• $258,000 for the Fennel Creek trailhead in Bonney Lake. The city has been working to create a multi-use trail along Fennel Creek, which meanders through both Bonney Lake and unincorporated Pierce County. Segment 1 is completed and segment 2 is under design, with work anticipated to continue into 2021. Eventually, it is anticipated the trail will connect Victor Falls with Bonney Lake Elementary School and Allan Yorke Park.
• $250,000 for roof repairs at the Enumclaw Expo Center. The Expo Center is another example of an aging facility in need of upkeep. Work has been done and more is needed, according to the Enumclaw Expo and Events Association, the nonprofit entity charged with operating the city-owner grounds.
• $36,000 for a Wilkeson water protection project.
“I’m glad to see our district financially represented in the capital budget, and these projects earmarked to receive funds,” Irwin said. He added that the projects “were driven by local interest and advocacy.”