WA State Senate marks $2.7 billion for construction

Originally published Friday, April 11, 2003

BRAD SHANNON THE OLYMPIAN South Sound highlights

The Senate's proposed capital budget includes money for the following institutions in South Sound (compared to Gov. Gary Locke's proposals in December):

Projects in the South Sound

-The Evergreen State College: $38.85 million, including $4.5 million for the ongoing Seminar II project, $21.5 million for a new heating-cooling system and other renovations to the Evans library building, $3 million to convert classrooms on Lab II's third floor into chemistry lab space. (Locke proposed $34.35 million, but none for Seminar II); $4.25 million for the backlog in campus maintenance work, including repairs to Evergreen Parkway and campus access roads.

-South Puget Sound Community College: $17.35 million for a new humanities and general-education complex (Locke provided same amount).

-Department of General Administration, Olympia: $32.06 million for various projects, including $2.3 million extra for Legislative Building renovation (same as Locke); $1.75 million space-use changes to Legislative Building project (Locke had none); $1.18 million for Legislative Building security (Locke had none); $2.7 million for Cherberg and Pritchard building renovations (Locke had $1.7 million); $1.98 million for preservation of historic-building exteriors (same as Locke); $9.59 million for engineering and architectural services (same as Locke); $1.6 million for small repairs (same as Locke); $1.5 million for Capitol Campus minor works (Locke had $2.43 million); no money for General Administration Building renovations (Locke had $3.6 million).

-Maple Lane School, Grand Mound: $2.65 million for steam-plant and tunnels upgrade (Locke provided same). Senate omits both the $7.2 million in additional renovations that Locke proposed for recreation and multi-services buildings at Maple Lane and $9.46 million Locke proposed for new construction at Green Hill School in Chehalis.

-Department of Corrections, Mason County: $4.7 million for agency share of regional water and wastewater system.

-Heritage Park, Olympia: No new money (same as Locke).

-Squaxin Island tribal museum, Mason County: $100,000 for arts program funding.

-Yelm Community Center: $400,000 for community-service facilities funding.

-Olympia Waldorf School: $45,000 for heritage projects funding.

-Bigelow House Preservation Association: $33,900 for heritage projects funding.

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.
"For South Sound, I'd say it's good -- especially for higher education," said Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Thurston County.

"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.

Large requests

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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