Birch Bay Beach Park to be priority under county park plan


Birch Bay is expected to get a hefty chunk of money spent on county park facilities that will be worked on in the next few years, with most of the funding going to the Birch Bay Beach Park.

Every six years, Whatcom County updates its park, recreation and open space plan in order to be considered for grants from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office. The plan sets out the Whatcom County Parks and Recreation District’s plans and goals for the next six years.

Last updated in 2016 and delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Whatcom County Council adopted the plan January 23. County parks director Bennett Knox said the state’s recreation and conservation office approved the comprehensive plan January 29.

The parks comprehensive plan includes the district’s six-year capital improvement plan, which county council adopted last June, that details the department’s planned expenditures of about $30.3 million through 2028.

The department is planning to spend nearly $5.86 million developing the first phase of the Birch Bay Beach Park ($5.37 million) and demolishing the Bay Hostel at Bay Horizon Park ($493,000). Those two items alone will eat up 19 percent of the department’s infrastructure budget.

The Birch Bay Beach Park is a 4.1-acre property at 7930 Birch Bay Drive, near the future Birch Bay Vogt Library Express. Design of the park’s first phase is anticipated to start in 2025, and would include a restroom, shelter and parking, Knox said. Construction would ideally begin in 2026.

“It was moved up in the plan because of the community support,” he said of the Birch Bay park. “It’s been something the community has been looking forward to for a while.”

Next on the list is Lake Whatcom, which will receive $3.8 million for a trailhead and nearly $1.1 million for trail development for a total of $4.9, or 16.3 percent of the budget.

Silver Lake is up for $4.67 million that will be spent on shower and restroom facilities ($4.2 million), roofing ($231,000), cabin renovations ($183,700) and demolition work ($61,800). All in all, these expenses represent 15 percent of the six-year plan.

Hovander Park can expect to haul in $147,400 for roofing, $55,500 for demolition work, $440,750 for picnic shelters, $262,000 for flood mitigation, $2,400,000 for access improvements, $130,000 for the maintenance shop and $275,000 for a master plan. Total expenditures? $3.71 million, or 12.2 percent of the plan.

Blaine can expect to see $50,000 in investment on a new sewage pump at Semiahmoo Park. Blaine’s share represents 0.16 percent of the budget.

Grace McCarthy contributed to the reporting of this article.


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