$500,000 accelerates park plan
By Joseph Turner, for the Tacoma News Tribune
July 15, 2005
After 15 years of buying property near Eatonville, the state finally will start turning the site into a park.
The Legislature, at the urging of state Sen. Marilyn Rasmussen (D-Eatonville), put $500,000 into the 2005-07 capital budget for initial planning, design and permitting for a 1,230-acre park at the confluence of the Nisqually and Mashel rivers.
Troy Fitzsimmons, park development manager for the Puget Sound region of the state Parks and Recreation Commission, said the project will begin after Labor Day. And before the end of the year, parks officials will hold public workshops to find out what kinds of amenities should be built at the park.
“We want to hear what the public wants because they’re the ones that are going to be using the park,” he said. “Maybe they want a lot of picnic shelters. Maybe a lot of mountain bike trails.”
A half-million dollars doesn’t buy much more than a zoning map, which will show what areas are promising locations for cabins, campsites and boat launches, he said.
But by mid-2007, parks officials should be able to lay out a trail system for the property.
It will cost about $10 million to fully develop the site, something the parks commission wants to complete by 2013. That’s the 100th anniversary of the state parks system.
Between 1991 and 2004 the state spent nearly $6.7 million buying parcels from Weyerhaeuser Co. to assemble a total of 1,230 acres about 11/2 miles west of Eatonville.
Parks officials had hoped to buy an additional 400 adjacent acres from Manke Lumber Co. of Tacoma, but they broke off negotiations after the parties failed to reach agreement on a price.
Still, the state park will be nearly twice the size of Point Defiance Park in Tacoma and will have 9,000 feet of frontage on the Nisqually and Mashel rivers and Ohop Creek.
The property already is used by fishermen, canoeists, kayakers and mountain bikers, Fitzsimmons said.
There already is a partial trail network, thanks largely to the logging roads built by Weyerhaeuser when the company owned the property, he said.
Depending on public input, the park eventually is likely to feature campsites, rental cabins, yurts, picnic shelters and electrical and water hookups for recreational vehicles.
Construction of the utilities could begin in mid to late 2007, provided the Legislature appropriates additional funding for the park.
Parks officials hope the Nisqually-Mashel park will be a destination for city-dwellers looking to get away for long weekends and a jumping-off point for visitors to Mount Rainier National Park.
Meanwhile, parks officials are working on several other projects in South Puget Sound.
The agency is spending $660,000 to replace the existing comfort station and drain field at Flaming Geyser Park along the Green River in South King County and $1.2 million to add 50 more campsites to Konasket Palmer Park near Enumclaw.
Dash Point State Park will be closed from September 2006 through April 2007 for a $2 million sewer construction project, Fitzsimmons said.
Joseph Turner: 253-597-8436