Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway ranks as state priority project
More than 100 recreation, wildlife habitat and working lands projects around the state — including Port Orchard’s Bay Street Pedestrian Path project — have been ranked as priority projects by the Recreation Conservation Office (RCO).
Whether the 33 counties and dozens of communities who would benefit from these projects are able to complete them is dependent on adequate funding of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP).
WWRP will fund $105,750 with a $105,750 match from the city.
Councilman Jerry Childs said he is glad to see the state take notice of the Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway
“It is a dream that has been before our city leaders and citizens for nearly 50 years,” Childs said. “While larger communities have received significant grant dollars for such projects, Port Orchard has languished. Now that people are taking notice, I am very hopeful.”
Child said with limited dollars, the city has been moving ahead, building the trail in segments.
“To finish, we obviously need more money, but also community support as waterfront communities like us cannot move forward without vision and grit determination by all concerned — status quo is just no longer acceptable,” he said.
Childs said the trail will become a catalyst for development and growth.
“That is what’s happening in other communities and we can expect the same,” he said. “A big thanks to the Recreation Conservation Office for seeing what we already know, the Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway is the future for downtown Port Orchard.”
The outdoor recreation economy supports 227,000 jobs in the state alone and acts as a significant quality-of-life attractor for highly skilled workers in fields such as tech and aerospace.
“We know that the outdoors don’t have just an environmental and recreation significance in our state,” said Gov. Jay Inslee, last week at the Wildlife and Recreation Coalition’s annual breakfast. “This is a $22 billion sector in our economy.”
The Wildlife and Recreation Coalition is the chief advocate for WWRP grant program and is working to secure funding for projects.
In the last biennium, Inslee proposed more WWRP funding than any governor to date, requesting the legislature fund the program at $75 million.
More than 80 projects were funded last year with $65 million allocated from the capital construction budget.
In June, the Coalition board requested the governor propose $97 million in funding for the WWRP to reflect growing need and maximize economic benefits of the outdoors.
“Gov. Inslee understands the importance of preserving our state’s natural heritage. Investing in the outdoors now would continue to pay dividends for decades to come,” said Joanna Grist, executive director of the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition, which advocates for WWRP funding. “Communities across Washington need forward-thinking leadership from Olympia this year as our population increases and demand for outdoor recreation and conservation continues to grow.”
Since it was established in 1989, the WWRP grant program has gained broad bipartisan support in the legislature as well as support from over 280 organizations representing conservation, business, recreation, hunting, fishing, farming, and community interests.