University Place says it can't afford to help build 28 acres of parks next to the Chambers Bay Golf Course, putting a potential glitch in the county's plan to open the broader 930-acre site to the public.
Pierce County staff members are asking the city to contribute about $350,000 to Chambers Creek Properties, whose centerpiece will be the 18-hole Scottish links-style golf course.
The county wants the city to pay part of the cost of developing the North and Central Meadows areas, which would feature walking trails and majestic views of Puget Sound.
The County Council already released $3.5 million for the parks' construction in February, under the condition that University Place chip in 10 percent. The parks would be located within the city limits, and the city of 31,000 residents stands to gain from them, county leaders reasoned.
But UP officials say the city's shortage of capital improvement dollars makes funding Chambers Creek Properties a tough sell.
Mayor Gerald Gehring said his city is barely able to maintain its own parks and capital needs.
"Until we sit down as a council and discuss it, I can't predict what's going to happen, " Gehring said Tuesday. "The fact is, the money isn't there."
Two months ago, the Pierce County Council said construction of the parks might have to stop if negotiations with University Place weren't successful.
When contacted Tuesday, County Council Chairman Shawn Bunney wasn't as hard-nosed, although he said county leaders must continue to negotiate for a city contribution.
"We need to continue to have a dialogue with University Place, " Bunney said.
The cost-sharing hang-up is just the latest financial issue to complicate the Chambers Creek Properties. The County Council decided last year to freeze more than $19 million for projects related to the upscale golf course.
County Council members complained that County Executive John Ladenburg hadn't kept them informed about spending at the site, and that he signed a contract with a private golf course developer that went beyond what they had approved.
The County Council has since released most of that frozen money.
Joseph Scorcio, assistant director for county public works and utilities, said county staff must report to the County Council by May 15 with an update on negotiations with University Place.
Central Meadow Park would consist of 22 acres with trails immediately south of the golf course. North Meadow Park would be a 6-acre park on the north edge of the golf course.
Scorcio said he didn't think county leaders knew specifics about University Place's financial constraints when they released the $3.5 million from the sewer fund.
"In the spirit of cooperation, it's OK to ask, " Scorcio said.
A 10 percent contribution would take a big bite out of University Place's parks budget, said City Manager Bob Jean.
University Place spends about $500,000 a year just to staff and maintain parks, and sets aside about $50,000 a year for capital costs, such as acquiring new land for parks.
City leaders said they're open to discussing a cost share. But Jean told county officials at a meeting Monday night about his city's financial struggles.
"As the chief budget official of the city, I can tell you we haven't got the money, " he said.