The Pierce County Council voted 6-1 Tuesday to spend $2.9 million in county sewer funds for construction of a maintenance facility that will serve both the sewer utility and the controversial Chambers Bay Golf Course.
The vote moved the council a step closer to reversing a $19 million freeze it enacted in November out of frustration with County Executive John Ladenburg, who council members said failed to keep them informed about spending plans for the 930-acre Chambers Creek Properties.
Sewer rate payers benefited from the freeze and the extra scrutiny, council members said.
Councilman Calvin Goings, D-Puyallup, said the cost of the maintenance building dropped $1 million after the council's move, and the golf course is now required to pay a share of other projects totaling approximately $500,000.
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Public Works director Brian Ziegler said following the meeting that an earlier $3.9 million estimate was a placeholder developed before officials obtained a design for the building. The price dropped after the design was completed, he said.
"Our guess was high, " Ziegler said.
Councilwoman Barbara Gelman, D-Tacoma, said council members showed they're committed to doing due diligence, and they will continue to scrutinize spending.
Councilman Tim Farrell, D-Tacoma, cast the only "no" vote. He declined to say why.
Building construction could begin in late April or early May, Ziegler said.
The sewer utility and golf course will share space in the building for about 10 years. That's how long officials say it will take before the sewer utility needs the entire building.
The golf course will lease the space at market rate, and then build its own facility when it can no longer share the building.
Several other projects at the Chambers Creek Properties remain frozen, including a pair of proposed parks adjacent to the golf course, a water reclamation system for the sewer facility and work that would open the beach to public access.
Next up for discussion are the parks. The council is scheduled next week to discuss funding for a Central Meadow Park and North Meadow Park.
Earlier this month, the council unfroze $2.9 million to pay for several other projects related to the golf course, including an entry road, a trail, and water and electricity infrastructure.
The 18-hole, Scottish links-style golf course is scheduled to open in May 2007. The high-end course, built on the waterfront site of a former gravel mine, is intended to generate money to help fund development of the entire site.