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Park funding in budget draft

Senate Democrats’ plan includes $2.5 million for Pritchard purchase.

A fresh infusion of state dollars could put public purchase of the Wyckoff property at Bill Point within comfortable reach.

Funding of $2.5 million for the “Pritchard Park” project is included in a budget proposal unveiled by Senate Democrats Monday.

“We’re really excited that we’re close to reaching our goals,” said Karen Molinari, executive director of the Bainbridge Island Land Trust, whose group has assisted with the park campaign. “This will be an important regional park for our community and other people in Puget Sound to visit.”

The park would be named for the late Joel Pritchard, a Bainbridge Republican who served in Congress and as Washington’s lieutenant governor.

The city has already purchased the western 22.5 acres of the 50-acre Wyckoff property, opening up an expansive beach on the south shore of Eagle Harbor to public enjoyment.

Facing a Dec. 31 deadline to purchase the eastern 27.5 acres – including the “point,” the site of an ongoing cleanup under the federal Superfund program – backers have been working to bring in more private donations toward the $3.1 million needed.

So the park campaign hailed Monday’s announcement from state Sen. Phil Rockefeller that additional state monies may be available.

Of the proposed funding, some $2 million would be earmarked for the land purchase.

The remaining $500,000 would go toward construction of a memorial to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The memorial saw a ceremonial groundbreaking last year, with actual construction to begin in the next few weeks.

“The memorial marks an historic event, important not only to Washington residents, but also to Americans generally,” said Rockefeller, a Bainbridge Democrat, in a statement announcing the budget proposal.

“The park honors our favorite son, member of Congress Joel Pritchard, and is a fitting tribute to his far-sighted work for a quality environment.”

The capital budget funds appropriations for construction projects, much of it financed through the sale of general obligation bonds.

The budget must still be approved by the Legislature and signed into law. Molinari expressed optimism.

“There’s some good support in the House, is what we’re hearing,” she said.

The campaign would still need another $400,000 to complete the purchase.

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