Despite several people speaking out in support of a plan for Eatonville to partner with the Western Forest Industries Museum as part of a $1.5-million joint federal grant application to build a new railroad depot, the Town Council voted to table the resolution pending a review of the town’s fiscal responsibilities under the plan.
WFIM has approached the Town Council about the feasibility of moving the railroad depot and/or museum to Eatonville via the Reconnecting Communities Pilot Program’s Planning Grant.
According to the resolution, because WFIM has been awarded a $525,000 Lodging Tax Advisory Committee 2023 grant and has other “in-kind” services that satisfy the grant’s 20 percent match requirement, there is no match requirement for Eatonville.
Several Town Council members at the Sept. 26 meeting were not so sure, wanting clarification on the matter.
Councilmember Bill Dunn asked why it was so important to WFIM that Eatonville be the lead applicant on the grant.
Other council members said much the same thing:
• “I understand that if we get the grant and money is appropriately spent, then we’re not on the hook for the 1.5 mill, OK,” Councilmember Robert Thomas said. “But the key to that is what’s in the grant assurances. How can we comply with the state’s terms for receiving the grant?”
• “I am concerned about the town being obligated for those funds up front,” Councilmember Peter Paul noted.
• “It is our role to mitigate risks when it comes to taxpayer dollars,” Councilmember Emily McFadden said.
The Eatonville Town Council will host a special meeting to discuss the grant beginning at 7 p.m. Wednesday at either the community center or the visitor center.
The meeting will be hybrid meeting. The public can call in at 253-215-8782 (passcode 98328; meeting ID/Link: 537 233 9187).