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State, county discuss future of Wenberg State Park

LAKE GOODWIN — Four citizens showed up at a public meeting to discuss a potential transfer of Wenberg State Park as a result of proposed state budget reductions.

“We had three people from Snohomish County, four citizens, a reporter, and four state park employees,” said the director of the Northwest region of state parks, Eric Watilo.

State parks planner Peter Herzog offered a presentation with Wenberg’s park ranger Kevin Lease assisting, Watilo said.

Wenberg State Park is a 46-acre camping park with boating, fishing, picnicking and swimming on its 1,140 feet of freshwater shoreline on Lake Goodwin in Snohomish County. The park has 50 picnic tables, 45 tent spaces, 30 utility spaces, a dump station, three restrooms and three showers, as well as a kitchen shelter that accommodates up to 150 people. There are two boat ramps and a 20-foot dock.

The cost to run the park for a biennium, based on fiscal year 2008 expenditures including staffing, utilities and maintenance is $465,400.

“We won’t know anything for sure until the state finalizes its budget later this spring,” Watilo said.

To meet the governor’s budget proposal, State Parks must reduce its general fund budget by 10 percent in the 2009 - 2011 biennium. This represents $10 million of the agency’s approximately $100 million general fund budget.

State parks is proposing the transfer of 12 state parks to other government or non-profit operators, and Snohomish County stands poised for a possible take over, if County Councilman John Koster has his way.

“Our local parks provide affordable access to wholesome and healthy activities for young and old alike. By adopting Wenberg, Snohomish County will preserve this valuable resource for our community,” Koster wrote in an editorial.

The county added its own park on the north end of Lake Goodwin a few years ago, with swimming, trails and toys for kids, but no fishing access.

Koster recognizes the value of the state park as a tourist attraction as well.

“With some investment in the coming years, Wenberg’s facilities could include recreational opportunities that would create an even larger draw for tourism. By utilizing a model that has been successful in other parks around the county, we can improve access by offering youth camps for kayaking, canoeing and fishing,” Koster said.

“It’s not a done deal until the parks commission reviews the proposal and the state budget is finalized, sometime between late April and June,” Watilo said.

The proposal and other budget reduction steps are described in a news fact sheet at www.parks.wa.gov.

For more information e-mail to Eric Watilo at Eric.Watilo@parks.wa.gov or call 360-755-9231.

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