Design of new Whatcom County park near Acme to cost $55K

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDJune 1, 2014 

ACME - Design of the new South Fork Park will begin this month, if the Whatcom County Council on Tuesday, June 3, agrees to spend $55,523 on the work.

Reichhardt & Ebe Engineering would design a parking area, access road and trailhead for the county park, off Mosquito Lake Road east of Highway 9 at Acme. The firm would help the county Parks and Recreation Department obtain permits so construction could begin in 2015, Parks Director Mike McFarlane said.

The 550-acre park was narrowly approved by the County Council in 2012 after the county acquired the Nesset family homestead. Plans for the park also will include renovating the old farm buildings, trails for horses and hikers, and restrooms.

An early cost estimate for construction was $750,000. If hired, Reichhardt & Ebe would come up with a more detailed cost breakdown for developing South Fork Park.

The park was supported by the South Fork Valley Community Association and the Whatcom chapter of Backcountry Horsemen of Washington. Another community group, the South Fork Heritage Association, angrily opposed the park. Some members of the group claimed, despite a lack of meaningful evidence, that the county had entered into a corrupt land deal with the Whatcom Land Trust. The trust owns conservation easements on some of the park land, to ensure it remains undeveloped.

The council on Tuesday will consider the contract with Reichhardt & Ebe as part of its consent agenda, which means the contract may not be brought up for discussion before the vote. Council will meet at 7 p.m. at the county courthouse, 311 Grand Ave., Bellingham.

Reach Ralph Schwartz at 360-715-2289 or ralph.schwartz@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Politics blog at bellinghamherald.com/politics-blog or get updates on Twitter at @bhampolitics.

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