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Park district examines lake management plan tonight

If the state and county want the parks district to take care of South End lakes, someone will take a big hit in the pocketbook.

Facing severe budget shortfalls, the county has asked whether the parks district would be willing and able to assume maintenance and operations control over three South End lakes.

The lake access points are owned by the Department of Fish and Wildlife. The state's 25-year maintenance and operations contract with the county expires this month for Goss and Lone lakes in Langley, and next February for Deer Lake in Clinton.

Parks director Terry Arnold and maintenance supervisor Tom Fallon visited all three lakes to determine how much it would cost to take them over.

"We recorded the physical assets, the level of service each needs and how many visits per week would be required," Arnold said.

The initial one-time cost of $14,000 would include a truck, trailer, water tank (for cleaning restrooms), weed eater, blower and hand tools.

"We aren't mobile, so that's what it would take to get us on the road," Arnold said.

Labor, mileage and materials will bring the monthly cost to the district for maintenance at all three parks to $3,000.

County parks director Steve Marx said that he is unable to keep the lakes at their current level of upkeep because his department's budget has been slashed.

The agencies have said they are willing to negotiate an agreement should the parks board be receptive to taking on the responsibility of picking up trash, emptying portable restrooms, sweeping, cutting vegetation and other essential tasks.

But neither the state nor the county is offering any financial to help the park district maintain the lakes.

Meanwhile, the county has also announced they are looking for someone to take over the lease on the community health services building located north of the park's entrance on Maxwelton Road.

"When the county has vacated the building, they will announce it is for lease," said parks director Terry Arnold. "We will submit a letter of intent at that time."

Though costs haven't been mentioned, Arnold believes the district would be in a strong negotiating position.

"The county wants us to take over control of the lakes," she explained. "We need the space that the building provides. Maybe we can work a deal that helps everyone."

The park's present digs are a problem.

Located on the second floor of a structure at Community Park, visitor access is restricted because the park board decided not to spend $90,000 to fix the elevator. The space is cramped and may pose a potential fire hazard for those who work there.

The single-story health services building is adjacent to park property across the street from the elementary school. It has ample parking and would allow the cramped office staff to spread out a bit as well as offer some programming space.

"The current office would be given over to desperately-needed storage," Arnold said.

At 7 p.m. tonight, the parks board will hold a special meeting to discuss the plan, as well as holding continuing talks on the future of Bayview Community Hall. The meeting is at the Island County Health Services building on Maxwelton Road.

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or jvanderford@southwhidbeyrecord.com.

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