Gov. Chris Gregoire’s budget proposals this month include spending $47 million to replace the Military Department’s armories in Olympia and Puyallup with a new “readiness center” that is cheaper to run and better suited to the Washington National Guard’s training needs, Military Department officials say.
Olympia’s armory is 74 years old; Puyallup’s is 60 years old. It’s unknown where the replacement facility would be.
The Military Department has been revamping similar facilities statewide.
“Since 2009 we have divested armories in Ellensburg, Poulsbo, Toppenish … Last year we divested of Everett, which was over 90 years old,” said agency spokesman Capt. Keith Kosik.
Because Gregoire is leaving office in two weeks, her proposal could fall on deaf ears in the Legislature. But most of the money earmarked — $33.6 million — would come from Congress in future years, and the project already is listed on a Department of Defense future-needs plan that serves as a basis for future presidential and congressional budget requests, Kosik said.
An armory-replacement proposal that puts people to work would be worthwhile, said House Capital Budget Committee chairman Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish. But he said he has only begun to look at the budget in big-picture terms, and he faces long negotiations next year with a Republican-dominated coalition running the Senate.
Kosik said the readiness center project needs the $13.4 million state share of funding in the 2013-15 budget cycle. The state money would pay for land and design work.
“Sufficient size, access to I-5, clean environmental record and utilities are among the considerations we evaluate as we explore potential sites,” Kosik said of the potential new readiness center.
The federal funding is supposed to come in the fiscal year ending in September 2017, which suggests the project is a few years off.
If a new facility were built, the state would offer the Puyallup and Olympia armories to local governments before putting them up for sale, as it’s doing with the Tacoma armory. But that is at least five years away.
The readiness center request is one of the largest outlays for Thurston County projects in Gregoire’s budget. Thurston County projects receive about $123.6 million in Gregoire’s capital-projects proposal, much of it for maintenance or repairs at the Capitol Campus.
Other South Sound requests of note:
• $3.37 million for a new key-card and security-camera systems on the Capitol Campus. The multiple systems that let employees enter offices have been breaking down, said Steve Valandra, spokesman for the Enterprise Services agency that manages state facilities. He said the state wants a single system serving the East and West campuses.
“They don’t all operate the same. We want to put in a system that is well-coordinated,” Valandra said.
• $9.9 million for two phases of renovations of The Evergreen State College’s Lab I building, modernizing and improving access in both the basement and first floor.
• Nearly $4.8 million for the ongoing Natural Resources Building roof project and $4.5 million for the ongoing project to replace damaged cladding and fix leaking windows there. An additional $2.44 million is for repairing a fire-suppression system in the building’s garage.
• Nearly $1.1 million for heating/cooling upgrades at the State Archives.
• The Department of Enterprise Services is to receive $12.9 million for architectural and engineering services, $6.7 million for campus facilities preservation, nearly $7.5 million for other repairs, $1.9 million to replace a chiller at the campus powerhouse, $3.74 million for steam system repairs, $3.1 million to repair elevators and fix water infiltration on the East Campus plaza, and $1.3 million to replace an emergency generator.