The Pierce County Council voted unanimously Tuesday to release $3.5 million from the county's sewer fund for construction of a pair of parks adjacent to the Chambers Bay Golf Course.
The move, which comes with a few strings attached, will help open the 930-acre Chambers Creek Properties to the public, something critics of the upscale golf course have wanted. It also goes a long way toward opening the nearby beach to public access.
Funding for Central Meadow and North Meadow parks was part of the roughly $19 million that council members froze last year during a clash with County Executive John Ladenburg.
Since then, the council has received more information from Ladenburg about the projects and has agreed to release most of the frozen money.
In addition to the parks, council members voted 6-1 Tuesday to release $6.3 million in frozen funds to pay for construction of a reclaimed water facility for the sewer utility.
The facility will serve as a pilot project for new technology the county plans to use when it expands the sewer treatment plant.
Council Chairman Shawn Bunney, R-Lake Tapps, cast the no vote.
The parks funding gained support from council members after an amendment was added requiring the City of University Place to contribute at least 10 percent toward construction. The parks will be located within the city limits, council members noted, and the city stands to gain from them.
Ladenburg was given until May 1 to negotiate with the city. Work on the projects could be halted if negotiations fail.
The amendment also scaled back plans for the North Meadow in case the property needs to be sold.
That part of the Chambers Creek Properties has been identified for possible sale in case the golf course runs into financial trouble.
Central Meadow Park will consist of 22 acres with trails immediately south of the golf course. North Meadow Park is a 6-acre park on the north edge of the golf course.
Both are scheduled to open in May 2007, at the same time as the golf course.