WA State Senate marks $2.7 billion for construction
Originally published Friday, April 11, 2003
Heritage Park in downtown Olympia is a big loser, but South Puget
Sound Community College and The Evergreen State College are big winners
in the Senate construction budget proposed Thursday.
"But the big disappointment is that Heritage Park is not in there. I think it's irresponsible not to finish what the state has started," Fraser said.
Fraser offered her comments after Sen. Joseph Zarelli, a Republican vice-chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, released his $2.7 billion construction-spending plan for the 2003-05 biennium.
Heritage Park, which some consider a perennial eyesore with its yearly construction projects, has cost an estimated $16.9 million since its planning began in the early 1990s. It now needs $5.6 million to be completed, but it must compete for funding with the $101 million Legislative Building renovation project and a slew of other capital needs.
Zarelli said he questions why the state should pay another $1.8 million for a security and restroom building at a park that has featured "add-on after add-on" for the past decade.
"A lot of people would like to see them plant some grass and shrubs and see some sunbathers out there this summer," he said.
Fraser hasn't given up getting money for the project, and Reps. Sandra Romero and Sam Hunt, both Olympia Democrats, are keeping up the fight in the House, where capital-project budget writers also are inclined to cut off park funding.
Other South Sound projects came up smelling like roses in the Senate budget, which Zarelli and Democratic Sen. Erik Poulsen of West Seattle drew up and could vote out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee this afternoon. A Senate floor vote probably will come next week, Zarelli said.
The proposed budget gives Evergreen more than $38 million -- $4.5 million more than Gov. Gary Locke proposed.
"It is actually everything we wanted. It's just in different pots. We can live with how they allocated it," said Edie Harding, director of governmental relations for Evergreen.
The money includes $21.5 million for the first half of renovations to the Daniel J. Evans library and $4.5 million to buy furniture and phone and audio-visual equipment for use in the new Seminar II building's lecture halls, which are scheduled to open to students in January 2004.
Harding acknowledged that Evergreen is asking for a lot of funding but said the west-Olympia campus is trying to find room to accommodate more students in the future.
Harding said Evergreen will soon be at the end of its large capital funding requests.
Budget writers in the House may commit a lower level of funds to Evergreen, said House Capital Budget Committee Chairman Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish.
Also getting good news is fast-growing South Puget Sound Community College. The Senate is proposing to spend more than $17.3 million to build a new humanities and general-education complex that will be visible from Mottman Road.
That's the same level of funding proposed by Locke, and Dunshee said he's planning to lock in the same level of spending in his budget, due for release late next week.
If money is appropriated, construction would begin in late fall or early winter, as soon as the college's new child and family education complex is completed, SPSCC spokeswoman Kellie Purce Braseth said.
Several other proposals are of interest to South Sound, including the Senate's plan to spend an extra $5.2 million on the domed Legislative Building renovations, which could see total costs hit $113 million including overruns.
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