Whatcom County makes plans to reopen flooded parks | News

WHATCOM – Flood damage has come in different forms and ways in Whatcom County. Several of the area’s favorite parks have been closed due to floods for the past few months. Closed signs greet visitors driving to the adjoining ones in Ferndale.

But the county has plans to reopen the parks soon.

Whatcom County Parks Department website has issued a park closure alert: “Hovander Homestead Park, Tennant Lake Interpretative Center, Fragrance Garden and all park trails are currently closed to the public. These areas received significant damage from recent flooding. Work will progress as funding and conditions allow. Anticipated reopening in mid-May.”

While this isn’t the only time in recent history flooding has been an issue in these parks – since 10 to 11 years ago there was significant damage as well – it is the worst in many years. A levee on the other side of the Nooksack River from Hovander is higher so that floodwaters will divert to the parks instead of into the downtown.

The parks department calls it a receiving area for water. Yet they received more water than anticipated and even the elevated small office near the Hovander house had six inches of water in it this time.

“This was a bad one,” Whatcom County Parks Director Michael McFarlane said on the phone this week.

McFarlane explained that Whatcom County Council approved a request last week for $345,686 to push the mitigations along since an application to FEMA is slow for financial assistance.

The improvements will be made in steps, with a portion of the park to be open while continuing to make other improvements such as bolstering the trails, fixing electrical and waterline systems, repairing access to the dike and the dike itself, cleaning up garbage that floated in, fixing the stove and electrical system at the picnic shelter and pressure washing surfaces.

While not obvious now, water had gotten into the Hovander barn and the Tennant Lake house. A lot of fencing floated in flood waters.

McFarlane said his staff and volunteers installed the irrigation system last week, and they repaired and fixed the gardens in the fragrance garden while master gardeners are working on their display gardens at Hovander.

The goal to open is by May 8 (Mother’s Day), and for the popular annual Master Gardener Plant Sale which is on site. Some delays – the wet weather of the winter and spring – remain in terms of having drier weather to work on turf restoration and to gain materials for the playground. The Tennant Lake Interpretive Center received interior damage and will likely be closed to reservations through the end of the year.

The boardwalk at Tennant Lake is currently closed due to damage to the walkway. The boardwalk is maintained by the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife. The damage has impacted roads, trails, parking lots, playgrounds, fencing, grounds, turf utilities, and buildings.

Although water didn’t enter the National Register of Historic Places registered Hovander home built in 1901, the department still hopes to elevate it in the future to be on the safe side, McFarlane said. The farmstead park, sold in 1969 when it passed from the Hovander family to the County, has nearly 350 acres, including a mile of river frontage.

The Parks Department has also posted of additional improvements to Hovander Park buildings including demolition, removal and site restoration for the old storage barn by the boat launch and the current shop building will be removed.

These buildings have deteriorated supports, foundation failures and are no longer functional. A new shop building will be constructed in an area of ​​the park with a higher elevation not subject to flooding. Christ Thomsen, operations manager, is overseeing the work.

McFarlane said additionally the senior centers in Everson and Sumas, operated by the Parks Department as well, were severely impacted by floods. The Everson center, in the same building as Everson City Hall, has been restored. Sumas’ center, which shares space with the city’s branch library, is still closed.

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