Senate budget would give food bank $1 million

It also includes $816,000 for performing arts center and $400,000 for cleanup of Reliable Steel site

bshannon@theolympian.comApril 10, 2013 

The Thurston County Food Bank is earmarked for $1 million in the state Senate Majority Coalition’s proposed capital budget. The money would help pay for a warehouse purchase in Tumwater, refrigeration equipment in the new storage space and also a new roof for the food bank’s distribution center in downtown Olympia.

The $3.6 billion Senate proposal authored by Republican Sen. Jim Honeyford of Sunnyside went public Tuesday, and the House is expected to follow suit at noon today with its capital-construction plan.

The Senate proposal also has money for other South Sound projects of note:

 • $816,000 for The Washington Center for the Performing Arts. The money is needed to help replace a water-damaged stucco exterior on the building, erected in 1985, and the City Council had voted in March to authorize a $4.6 million project contingent on the state money.

 • $400,000 for cleanup of hydrocarbons and heavy metals at the former Reliable Steel site along West Bay Drive.

Robert Coit, executive director for the food bank, said former Gov. Chris Gregoire also had proposed some funding for the food bank’s $3.5 million capital campaign projects, so the Senate allocation is “very promising. We were more worried about the Senate than the House, frankly. But we’ll know for sure tomorrow.’’

He said the additional state money brings the bank more than half-way to its goal. The money is to be used for its purchase of a 5-year-old warehouse near South Puget Sound Community College on Mottman Road, as well as to equip it. The downtown food-distribution center, which was built in 1942 and also functions as a warehouse, would remain in the agency’s hands but as a place to serve clients.

Coit said the new warehouse still has a tenant but the food bank hopes “to move in soon.’’

He said 22nd District lawmakers including Democratic Reps. Chris Reykdal and Sam Hunt and Sen. Karen Fraser had been strong advocates for the project – along with House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt of Chehalis.

Environmentalists are sure to be disappointed by the budget. It has $39.6 million for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program’s prioritized list of projects, while the Environmental Priorities Coalition had sought $90 million.

The lower amount means no money for purchases of land on Olympia’s isthmus known as the Larida Passage parcel. The nonprofit Capitol Park Foundation, city and county have pledged a total of $2.7 million for the land acquisition in the first phase of a foundation proposal to turn the isthmus into a public-owned Capitol Olympic Vista Park. In the second phase, the group also wants to buy the vacant high-rise structure on the isthmus and tear it down.

“We would hope in the final budget that emerges that there are resources that let us go forward,” said Jerry Reilly, chairman of the park foundation. “The community has put in funds, the city has put in funds, and the county has put in funds (for the initial land purchase). This is essentially the state’s front lawn.”

Reilly said the city pledged $1.7 million, the county pledged $600,000 from its conservation futures grant, and the foundation pledged to raise $400,000 more for the first phase. He said that if the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program list is funded at the $100 million level, the Larida Passage project could receive as much as $1 million. If the Legislature puts $65 million into WWRP, the city would get $145,000 for Larida Passage.

The isthmus site was the scene of a hard-fought city zoning effort that first allowed a high rise and later led to a change of heart. Sen. Fraser had led efforts in the Legislature to fight against the city zoning, which she had argued would allow further obstructions in the view-shed that runs from the Capitol Campus to Budd Inlet.

Brad Shannon: 360-753-1688

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