It’s almost official: Horseshoe Lake park gets funding

Rodika Tollefson, KP News
Legislative updates Several bills passed in the 2005 legislative session will impact the Key Peninsula, including a transportation package that includes improvements to State Route 302. KP News will feature a legislative roundup in the June issue.
It was a three-year dream in the making, but in April it was about to become reality. A 350-acre property of land, known only as the Horseshoe Lake parcel, will become a public park. The idea started after KP Parks and Recreation District a few years ago created an acquisition committee, chaired by Ed Taylor, to look into opportunities. Out of several The idea started after KP Parks and Recreation District a few years ago created an acquisition committee, chaired by Ed Taylor, to look into opportunities. Out of several properties considered, “this one seemed to have the most potential and be most fruitful for the citizens of the Key Peninsula,” Taylor told KP News last year. The property, near 144th Street and State Route 302, belongs to the Department of Natural Resources. It’s forestland, harvested by the state, with proceeds going toward a public school construction fund. About $87 million per year are generated from the 2.1 million acres of forest trust lands. For many months, the idea of the park hinged on several factors, including funding from the Legislature. For the property to become a public park, the lawmakers needed to appropriate money to pay for the value of the land and the value of the trees. Once the Department of Natural Resources included the land on its proposed list of transfers earlier this year, things looked a little brighter. DNR asked for a total appropriation of $67 million, with Horseshoe Lake at No. 12 on the list. The average allocation historically has been $50 million. The projects are usually funded either completely or not at all, said Everett Challstedt, DNR project manager for the Trust Land Transfer Program. “We looked at more than 50 properties,” he said. “We try to look at those requested by public agencies and that for the most part have good timber value. ... Pierce County spoke up for this one and that had an impact (in placing it on DNR’s list). ” The acquisition is part of the capital budget proposal, which at press time had not been signed by Gov. Christine Gregoire. She was expected to sign it, according to legislative sources. “I am thrilled with the trust land transfer successes that we had in making certain that the Horseshoe Lake property will become... a fabulous park for the Key Peninsula, but really for the whole region,” said 26th Legislative District Rep. Pat Lantz, who was on the House Capital Budget Committee. “It has such potential.” On July 1, the DNR starts appraising all the parcels for fair value, the first step in the transfer process. The Key Peninsula Metropolitan Park District would almost certainly be the receiving agency. KPMPD Chair Paula DeMoss said the board will consider things final only when the transfer process is complete, but once it is, community members will be invited to participate in a planning effort for the future park. “The acquisition committee has given our community endless hours of volunteer time as they have been working to acquire this land,” she said. “This is a great opportunity for the Key Peninsula to have many recreational needs met. ... I am in high hopes that the community will continue to be involved in the planning of this venture.” Challstedt said the agency has two years to complete the process, which is very extensive. The property would be transferred with a deed restriction for the intended purpose: in this case, open space and recreation. “It is essentially a gift to them (the park district),” he said.