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Long Lake funding in Senate budget

Although nothing is certain until the final state budget is signed a month from now, State Sen. Bob Oke (R-Port Orchard) believes Gov. Christine Gregoire’s visit to Long Lake Park on Friday to hear a citizen group’s clean-up proposal can only help the project receive the money he requested this year.

“It’s almost too early to get really excited, but I’m thrilled that the governor was there, and the fact that she was can only help us as we progress,” Oke said, explaining he just learned that $650,000 was set aside in the state Senate’s budget proposal to help rid the popular lake of toxic plants that have forced lengthy closures banning swimming and other activities for years.

“That total does not reflect the amount in my Capital Budget request (of $1.1 million), but I’ve been told not to worry, that the amendment has been made and is in there,” Oke said.

During Gregoire’s visit to the park, which followed a stop at the Retsil Veterans Home’s grand opening, she learned firsthand what the money will pay for during a presentation by Ken Spohn, president of Citizens for Improving Long Lake (CILL).

Spohn said CILL, which is made up of homeowners and others concerned about the health of the lake, spent the last three years researching and discussing options before formulating the plan, which is to pay Tetra Tech, an environmental engineering company based in California, $1.1 million dollars to not only rid the lake of its three main problem plants, but to implement a 10-year management plan.

Once the plan was in place, Spohn said CILL then approached local lawmakers to find the money pay for it, which led them to Oke, who first challenged the group to make sure both the community and state agencies involved approved of the plan before submitting his funding request in January.

Oke said the next big step will be to see if the funding is included in the House budget, and added that he has already talked to Rep. Pat Lantz, (D-Gig Harbor), about the request.

And if the request remains in the budget that reaches the governor’s desk, Oke said he hopes her visit to the park will help distinguish the project from the thousands of others she must consider funding.

“I’m thrilled that she has seen this project and knows what it’s about,” he said. “That always helps.”

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