OLYMPIA – A $1.75 million appropriation for the Blue Mountain Action Council was among projects approved for the 16th Legislative District in the capital budget passed by Washington lawmakers Sunday.
Other projects for the 16th District include improvements for the Benton County Museum in Prosser, funding for Walla Walla watershed planning, and construction and maintenance at community colleges in Pasco and Walla Walla.
The 2019-21 capital budget pays for public works projects statewide. Funded primarily by bonds, the budget funds everything from public construction to cleanup of contaminated sites. It was among a torrent of bills approved by the Legislature during the final hours of the 2019 legislative session.
“Most of the attention goes to the Legislature’s big debates over taxes and policy, but projects like these have a great impact on people’s daily lives,” said Sen. Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla. “I am especially proud that we were able to obtain the appropriation for the Blue Mountain council, which does so much good in our community.”
“I’m proud our district was financially represented in the capital budget, and these projects will receive much-needed funding,” said Rep. Bill Jenkin, R-Prosser. “All of these projects were driven by local interest and advocacy. Without our communities strong support, not one of these projects would’ve been included in this budget. It’s an honor to represent a district that is so involved in our work in Olympia.”
“This capital budget represents our state’s shared priorities by making historic investments in K-12 school construction and providing robust funding for our mental and behavioral health facilities,” said Rep. Skyler Rude, R-Walla Walla. “Among the projects I worked to get funded is $250,000 for dental services in Dayton. Recently, one of the two dental practices closed in town, driving more Medicaid patients to the sole remaining provider. The next closest practice is in Walla Walla, which is a 70-mile commute roundtrip. These funds will help expand space at Columbia County’s Rural Health Clinic in order to accommodate dental services. The price tag for this project may seem small compared to some of the other projects receiving funding this year, but it will make a world of difference to Columbia County residents.”
The 16th District, which includes Walla Walla and Columbia counties, and parts of Benton and Franklin counties, received more than $30 million in the capital budget, including agency requests. Projects funded by the capital budget include:
- Blue Mountain Action Council — $1.75 million – Will help redevelop a Second Avenue office complex in Walla Walla to serve as a new community service center.
- The Club — $80,000 – Will help develop Dayton’s new youth center, which provides an after-school recreational gathering place for school-age children. Operated by Plus Delta After School Studios, a non-profit organization.
- Benton County Museum — $103,000 — Will expand facility in Prosser and restore a leaking roof.
- Little Badger Mountain Trailhead — $464,000 – Will help develop trail project linking mountain ridges in western Benton County.
- Pasco Farmers Market & Park — $154,000 – Will help fund improvements to Peanuts Park, a focal point for the downtown area.
- Pioneer Park Fountain — $9,000 – Will help restore the 109-year-old fountain in Walla Walla’s Pioneer Park.
- Taggart Road Waterline project — $456,000 – Will help realign Taggart Road, opening the door to new development in Waitsburg.
- Columbia County Dental — $250,000 — Will expand and improve the rural health clinic, to accommodate dental services for the underserved Medicaid population.
- Port of Walla Walla — $1 million – Will help develop a regional water system to supply drinking water in the Attalia Industrial Growth area, near the town of Wallula.
- Washington State Patrol Crime Lab — $400,000 – Will pay for laboratory renovations and security improvements at Kennewick facility.
- Washington State Penitentiary — $3.6 million – Will pay for renovations and improvements, including security-camera upgrades and roof replacement.
- Courthouse restoration – The Columbia County courthouse gets $122,000 through the state Courthouse Preservation Grant Program, and the Benton County Courthouse gets $34,000.
- Walla Walla Watershed Management Partnership — $1.5 million – Will pay for development of a comprehensive 30-year plan for all aspects of water management in the Walla Walla basin, in conjunction with the state Department of Ecology.
- Walla Walla lease – $1 million – Will fund the continued implementation of the Columbia River Basin Supply program, to help provide alternatives to groundwater in areas served by the declining Odessa Aquifer.
- Stubblefield salvage yard – $500,000 – Will fund cleanup of contaminated site in Walla Walla, formerly occupied by a fat-rendering plant and a salvage yard.
- Touchet River restoration — $2.1 million – Will help pay for floodplain and habitat restoration on the North Fork of the Touchet River, through the state Floodplains by Design program. Overseen by Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.
- Mill Creek fish passage – $1.8 million – Will provide for fish-passage improvements.
- Eagleson farmland easement — $285,000 – Will help pay for a voluntary land preservation agreement on 652 acres of farmland overlooking Walla Walla and the Blue Mountains, though Blue Mountain Land Trust. The trust will contribute resources totaling $284,000.
- Benton City sports complex acquisition — $582,000 – Will help purchase 25 acres on Ki-Be Road, across the street from Kiona-Benton City High School. Sports complex will include fields for soccer, football, baseball and softball. Benton City will provide $389,000.
- Benton City Riverfront Park acquisition — $82,000 – Will help purchase 11 acres to create a riverfront park near Seventh Street, along the Yakima River. Benton City will contribute $20,413 in cash and staff time.
- A Street Sports Complex — $350,000 – Will help pay for the first phase of the sports complex project on A Street in Pasco, to build three multi-use sports fields, a parking lot and other facilities. Pasco will contribute $221,113.
- Prosser Competitive Pool Improvements — $51,000 – Will upgrade equipment, add new signage and public address system at the competitive pool in the Prosser Aquatic Center in E.J. Miller Park.
- Wooten Wildlife Area — $1.5 million – Will provide matching funds for restoration of the Tucannon River floodplain.
- Pasco Local Improvement District — $4 million — Will pay for the Department of Natural Resources’ share of a local improvement district with the city of Pasco, to develop infrastructure, opening 110 acres to new development.
- Columbia Basin College and Walla Walla Community College — $11.2 million – Will pay for maintenance, preservation and repairs, and provide $3 million for a student recreation center at Columbia Basin College and $1.5 million for a student recreation center at Walla Walla Community College.