EPHRATA — Grant County PUD is investigating the possibility of operating its recently purchased private campground as a day-use park in Kittitas County.
The PUD’s $1.49 million purchase of Getty’s Cove is tied to the utility’s efforts to meet its Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requirements for operating its Columbia River dams. The district received a new FERC license to own and operate its dams last year, and must improve recreation within Priest Rapids Project boundaries.
The utility will pursue discussions with FERC stakeholders to determine how the property can be used to fulfill some existing recreation requirements, according to Kelly Larimer, Grant PUD’s lands and recreation manager.
Scaling back on other planned recreation improvements is being addressed in the next few years, as the PUD learns more about the lower Wanapum Reservoir’s recreational needs and limitations, according to Dorothy Harris, a utility spokesperson.
Getty’s Cove is located on the Columbia River, near Wanapum State Park.
The facility has a group campsite, boat launch, swimming area, double-vault toilet, interpretation area and trails.
The area has a history with the PUD.
Eleven homes were built on the site in the late 1950s to provide housing for PUD staff working on Wanapum Dam’s construction, according to Harris.
Starting in the 1960s, the area was used as a private campground.
In a 3-2 vote, Grant PUD commissioners approved the 96.5-acre land purchase last week.
Commission President Terry Brewer, Commissioner Bob Bernd and Commissioner Tom Flint voted in favor of the motion.
Commissioner Greg Hansen and Commissioner Randy Allred opposed the motion.
Allred talked about his concerns over the number of people visiting the area on the weekends, with only two, 1,000-gallons septic tanks on the property.
Allred also said the amount of the investment to comply with rules and regulations with water, electrical and sewer will be substantial.
The investment far exceeds what the PUD committed for the present public boat launch operated by the state, he said.
Hansen called the purchase an RV park purchase and said the PUD is already contending with several RV parks, Hansen said.
Flint said the PUD will be in recreation whether it wants to or not. Getty’s Cove has always been a piece of property that was close to a PUD hydro project.
The purchase would be beneficial and good for the district, he said.
A few years ago, the property was advertised for about $3 million and the price has since dropped by about half, Flint commented.
Bernd said he agreed with Flint and called the purchase an investment to protect the future of the district.
The property can also be declared surplus if needed, Bernd said.