County applies for grant for Birch Bay Community Park

By Oliver Lazenby

Whatcom County is applying for a $500,000 grant to help fund construction of the future Birch Bay Community Park, just north of the Visitor Information Center on Birch Bay Drive.

Whatcom County Council approved the application to the state Recreation and Conservation Office’s Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program at its June 19 council meeting.

The grant is competitive, Whatcom County parks director Michael McFarlane said. The county will make presentations to the Recreation and Conservation Office this summer as part of the application.

Actually receiving funds is contingent on the state legislature approving them in its budget next year.

“The earliest those funds would be available is 2020,” McFarlane said.

The county doesn’t yet have a schedule for building the park.

The county hired a landscape architect to design the park in 2016.

Developing the field into the planned park – an open space with trees, picnic tables, a parking lot, restrooms, showers and other amenities – will cost $4.4 million, the landscape architect estimated.

The park received $1 million from the state Recreation and Conservation Funding Board as part of the state’s 2017-19 capital budget. That money will go, at least in part, toward reimbursing the county for the $2.36 million purchase cost of the property.

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