Westport Light State Park could be added to potential ‘next new park’ list

Washington State Parks – The Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission will consider placing Westport Light State Park in Westport on a short list of candidates to be considered for a new park pre-design study, the first step in developing a new state park .

The Commission meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 20, at the offices of the Okanogan P.U.D., 1331 Second Ave., Okanogan. (Driving directions.)

The Commission meets six times a year at pre-determined locations around the state. Time for public comment is provided at all regular meetings.

A full meeting agenda, including information about opportunities for public comment, is available online at http://parks.state.wa.us/154/Commission-Meetings-Agendas.

By statute and mission, the Commission is required to provide a park system for current and future generations and to acquire properties for future park development.

In 2016, the Commission approved three top candidates to be considered for next new State Park — the Fisk State Park Property near Spokane; Miller State Park Property in Clallam County; and Nisqually State Park in Eastern Pierce County.

Through a partnership with the Nisqually Tribe, a Nisqually State Park master plan was completed, and the park is open for day and equestrian use. The agency plans to request funding for a pre-design study on further development there as part of its 2019 supplemental budget request.

With Nisqually proceeding independently of the agency’s selection process, staff is asking the Commission to consider placing Westport Light as a third candidate park for consideration in its next new park selection process.

The staff rationale for Westport Light is based on multiple factors, including support from the City of Westport for its local parks and the community’s expressed interest in partnering with State Parks and others to support park development.

Additionally, in 2015, State Parks acquired 300 acres that join two parks, Westport Light and Westhaven. Development at Westport Light also could help replace visitor services and opportunities lost in the area due to flooding at nearby Twin Harbors State Park.

A 2015 Earth Economics study commissioned by State Parks showed that visits to parks benefit local communities through direct and indirect visitor expenditures, taxes, jobs and ecosystem services.

The strategic direction of the agency’s Statewide Acquisition and Development Strategy guides State Parks to focus new acquisitions and development primarily in communities that support park development and where there may be opportunities to partner in developing or assisting with managing parks.

The agency will request pre-design funding in the 2019-21 Capital budget to begin a process that will help determine which of the three candidate products should be developed first.

Public and community engagement will be key to the process.

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