PORT TOWNSEND – The state parks director came to Fort Worden State Park on Thursday with good news:
Jefferson County’s three state parks could see big gains in capital dollars to improve their long-deteriorating conditions if Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposed 2007-09 capital budget is approved by the state Legislature.
“It’s just put a smile on our face,” Rex Derr, state Parks and Recreation Commission director, told members of Fort Worden Advisory Committee at Fort Worden Commons.
Derr said the budget proposal would guarantee a good kickoff to an effort to get 120 state parks in good shape for the system’s 2013 Centennial celebration.
Under the governor’s budget plan, Fort Worden State Park would receive about $2.9 million for nine improvement projects there.
Old Fort Townsend, south of Port Townsend, would be allocated $100,000 to wire campsites for electricity and Fort Flagler State Park on Marrowstone Island would receive $500,000 for campground electrical wiring and paving.
Derr said that over the past 20 years or so, the state parks capital budget every two years has grown between $2 million and $5 million, he said.
For the coming biennium, the governor is recommending a capital budget increase of more than $16 million, totaling $49.6 million for state parks maintenance and improvements.
The governor’s message, said Derr: “Take care of what we have and stop work on new facilities or expansions.”
Of the $49.6 million Gregoire has proposed for the capital budget, $43 million is designated for parks improvements, with $4 million earmarked for improving or expanding the state’s trails systems.
“Clearly the focus is to take care of what we have,” he said.The governor also proposes $3.5 million as the parks system’s share of cleaning up the parks along the shores of Puget Sound and Hood Canal.