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New county budget funds Vashon projects

King County’s newly approved budget contains $75,000 to facilitate the transfer of the county-owned Vashon pool to the Vashon Park District and nearly $1 million to support ongoing conservation work along Vashon’s eastern shore and Judd Creek.

But funds to take on an ambitious effort to repair the deteriorating Dockton Road seawall were cut from the 2010 budget, a $627 million spending plan that reflects the county’s tough financial picture, county officials said.

The county council pass-ed the budget last Monday.

Linda Dougherty, who heads the King County Roads Division, said she’s concerned about the lack of funding to repair the stretch of Dockton Road that runs along Tramp Harbor, considered one of the most vulnerable road spans in unincorporated King County. The county has been working with a Vashon-based community advisory group to determine the shape of the project, which carried a potential price tag of $31 million.

“We’re doing some repairs this month. But they’re a Band-Aid approach. They don’t address the structural integrity of the seawall over the long haul,” she said.

But the county roads division has enough money in its current budget to continue to work on the project until next April, she said. What’s more, she added, other efforts are in the works that may enable the county to find another way to fund the project once its current budget is exhausted.

“There are still some moving parts,” Dougherty said. “We’re pressing ahead, because we don’t want to lose any time.”

Wendy Braicks, executive director of Vashon Park District, meanwhile, said she was pleased to learn the county council had agreed to a $75,000 line item that would pave the way for the transfer of the county-owned pool to Vashon Park District.

The park district had requested $150,000 to develop a business plan and create a financial cushion so that it could prepare itself for the additional responsibilities of managing a pool, she said. Though the county budget contains less than Vashon park officials had hoped for, the funding still seems sufficient for the park district to move forward, she added.

“I'd be really surprised if we couldn't pull this off,” she said. “It’s good news. It gives us something ... to work with.”

Tom Koney, the county’s assistant director of parks, said he, too, was pleased that county budget-writers found a way to include funds for the pool transfer in the 2010 spending plan.

“It’s a very tough budget year. I think it was important to the county to make sure the hand-off was successful,” he said.

The inclusion of funds to continue conservation work on Vashon was also welcome news, Islanders said. The county, using conservation future funds and money from a countywide parks levy, will spend $450,000 to protect critical shoreline north of KVI Beach and $425,000 to continue efforts to protect Judd Creek, the Island’s largest salmon-bearing stream.

The funds will support the efforts of the Vashon-Maury Island Land Trust, which is partnering with the county to undertake the protection work.

Sharon Nelson, a state representative who handled special projects for Dow Constantine until he became the county executive last week, said the funding for two Vashon-based conservation projects stems in part from the land trust’s effectiveness.

“It really speaks to their skills,” she said.

But the council made several sacrifices in an effort to close a $56 million shortfall, including a decision to eliminate support for Washington State University Cooperative Ex-

tension, which runs 4-H clubs and the Master Gar-dener program — both of which are popular on Vashon.

Marie Bradley, a 4-H club leader on Vashon, said about 25 Island kids participate in 4-H programs. Because of the extension program’s popularity and cost-effectiveness, she added, an effort is under way to find supplemental funding to restore the cuts.

“It’s still up in the air,” she said.

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