Legislative budgets give boost to NW Washington fair, other 42nd District projects

  • Operating budget provides $250,000 for NW Washington Fair
  • Capital budget provides $14 million for Bellingham waterfront cleanup
  • Other projects include Sumas rodeo grounds, Nooksack dam removal

OLYMPIA – Budgets passed by Washington lawmakers during the final hours of their 2019 legislative session provide $250,000 for the Northwest Washington Fair in Lynden and a host of other projects for the 42nd Legislative District.

Among them are $14 million for cleanup projects on Bellingham Bay, improvements to the rodeo grounds in Sumas, restoration of the Mt. Baker Theatre in Bellingham, and removal of a diversion dam on the Nooksack that will help restore 16 miles of spawning grounds along the river.

“Often projects like these are overshadowed by the Legislature’s high-level debates about budgets, environmental policy and business climate,” said state Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale. “But the public works projects we authorize have a great impact on our quality of life. I was especially glad to see the appropriation for the fair come through, as it will help show our young people the importance of agriculture in our local economy and daily lives.”

The Legislature ended its 105-day legislative session April 28.

The $250,000 for the Northwest Washington Fair, earmarked for youth education programs, was contained in the state operating budget. The fair is developing a new Washington Agricultural Center to provide exhibition and meeting space for youths and others.

The capital budget, meanwhile, provides funding for a host of local public works projects. The capital budget covers durable projects, and is financed largely with bonds. In all, about $50 million in new projects came to the 42nd District. Projects funded by the capital budget include:

Port of Bellingham cleanup projects – $14 million – Hazardous waste cleanup projects include Westman Marine site, $2.9 million; Central Waterfront, $1.9 million; I & J Waterway, $7 million; Whatcom Waterway, $2.25 million.

Middle Fork Nooksack diversion dam removal — $10.5 million – Will help restore access to approximately 16 miles of pristine spawning and rearing habitat, by moving the point of diversion upstream.

Lower Nooksack River restoration — $6.2 million – through state Floodplains by Design program.

Howard Bowen Event Complex (Sumas) – $1.7 million – Will replace existing rodeo grandstand and make other improvements to the grounds; new grandstand will seat 3,500.

Sumas History Themed Playground and Water Park — $288,000 – Will improve downtown Sumas park.

Ferndale Wastewater Treatment Plant — $288,000 – Will help pay to design and develop a new treatment plant that will serve area needs through 2040.

Swift Creek natural asbestos cleanup and flood control — $2.4 million – Continues a project funded in the previous capital budget, reconstructing the channel to improve water flow, reduce concentrations of naturally occurring asbestos.

Community and technical colleges — $4.2 million – Will pay for maintenance and repairs at Whatcom Community College and Bellingham Technical College, as well as design work for Whatcom Community College’s new Technology and Engineering Center.

East Blaine infrastructure — $500,000 – Will provide matching money to design and build drinking water, sewer and electrical infrastructure to extend service capacity to the east end of the Blaine city limits. Continues a project funded in the previous capital budget.

Birch Bay Vogt Community Library – $2 million – Will help pay for a Whatcom Library System branch in the growing community of Birch Bay.

California Creek Estuary Park development — $757,000 – The Blaine-Birch Bay Park Recreation District 2, in partnership with the Whatcom Land Trust, will use a $458,000 grant provided through the state Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account to assist in purchase and development of 11.51 acres of wildlife habitat on California Creek at Drayton Harbor. The capital budget provides another $299,000 for the project through the Washington Wildlife and Recreation program.

Mount Baker Theatre – $1 million – Will provide money for preservation of historic Bellingham movie palace, through the Washington State Historical Society capital grant program. Will help repair roof, reseal exterior walls, and pay for interior restoration.

Unity Care NW – $3 million – Will help pay for new North Whatcom Health Center in Ferndale.

Skookum Creek acquisition — $864,000 – Whatcom Land Trust will use this grant to help buy 780 acres in the Skookum Creek watershed, providing habitat for salmon, steelhead and bull trout.

 Fish barrier removal — $890,000 – Two fish-passage projects in the 42nd District are authorized by the capital budget. They are on Kenney Creek ($443,000) and Squalicum Creek ($447,000).

Agricultural conservation easements — $350,000 – Under these voluntary agreements, landowners agree to forego non-agricultural development, protecting sensitive wetlands, vistas and other areas of importance. They include the McLeod easement, 16.5 acres near Wiser Lake ($175,000), the Roper easement, 26.75 acres ($100,000), and the TeVelde easement, 19.6 acres ($75,000).

Squalicum Creek Park Phase 4 — $350,000 – Will help pay for final phase of development of Bellingham park.

Fishtrap Creek habitat improvement (Lynden) — $258,000 – Will help pay to stop erosion on private property caused by culvert removal upstream.