The state Parks and Recreation Commission will keep control of Tolmie State Park – at least for the immediate future.
The commission on Thursday tabled a plan to transfer the 106-acre marine day-use park to Thurston County to maintain and operate, despite a staff recommendation to do it as a cost-saving measure for the financially challenged state agency.
“The commission wants to wait and see what happens with the state budget,” said parks spokeswoman Virginia Painter.
There’s also concern about carving out a park from a group of marine parks in South Sound that combine to serve boaters and other marine-recreation interests, commission Chairman Fred Olson said.
Tolmie State Park was identified two years ago as one of 13 state parks in the system available for transfer to other governmental entities.
Tolmie is perceived as more of a local park without a campground for overnight stays. Most of its visitors – 182,500 in 2008 – are area residents.
The transfer would have saved the state agency about $100,000 a year, according to the staff recommendation.Whether the Legislature approves a $30 annual recreation pass for state parks and other state lands will go a long way in determining the fate of Tolmie State Park, Painter said.
Thurston County Manage Don Krupp took the news in stride Thursday.
“I think it’s fine,” he said. “Our main goal is to assure that Tolmie remains open.”
Edward Level lives about a half-mile from the marine park, which features 1,800 feet of saltwater shoreline on the Nisqually Reach. He questioned the county’s ability to pay for park upkeep.
Krupp said the county would use a portion of property taxes that are set aside to pay for parks and open space. It’s called the conservation futures fund.
Sam Garst, a Thurston County resident and board chairman of the Washington State Parks Foundation, said Tolmie should stay a state park.
“When you start chipping away at parks, you start to diminish the value of the $30 recreation pass,” he said.The state acquired Tolmie State Park is six separate transactions totalling $100,550 between 1962 and 1977. It features beach access, trails and an underwater park built by scuba divers.
The park is named after Dr. William Frazer Tolmie (1812-86) who spent 16 years with the Hudson Bay Co. at Fort Nisqually, serving as a physician, surgeon, botanist and fur trader.
John Dodge: 360-754-5444, firstname.lastname@example.org