Silverdale Y makes South Kitsap feel slighted

The Kitsap County commissioners’ allocation of $1 million from the county’s capital facilities budget toward the construction of a new YMCA facility on the Silverdale Community Campus will neither stretch available resources nor push the county further into debt, according to supporters of the measure.

“We just cut $3 million from our general fund mostly for salaries and benefits,” said Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown. “But this allocation is from the capital fund and cannot be used for other purposes. So we are not taking away money that can be used to hire more people.”

The new facility would be the anchor of the Silverdale Community Campus, which has already been in the planning stages for more than a decade.

The building is projected to cost $15 million, but the county will not need to kick in any more than the first million, according to YMCA sources.

“We already have commitments for a substantial amount,” said YMCA of Tacoma-Pierce County President and CEO Bob Ecklund. “We are ready to start raising funds.”

The proposed facility will resemble the Gig Harbor YMCA, which opened in 2007 and now has upwards of 18,000 members. It will complement the Bremerton facility, which is part of the Armed Services YMCA network.

The spectators at Monday’s special meeting were divided, with several local swimmers appearing in support of the building.

Swimming is not only popular but preventive, as kids who know how to swim are less likely to drown.

“We have a lot of champion swimmers originating from Kitsap County,” said Ron Ross of Silverdale. “And while the swimmers did the work, the community provided them with the opportunity.”

On the other side, several attendees spoke out against the project for its cost, location or both.

“There used to be a lot more services at Givens Center,” said Ayvon Card, of Port Orchard. “Now there is nothing. I think we need to have more services in South Kitsap before we build something new in Silverdale.”

Card said the positioning of $1 million as an affordable amount is misleading, since, “This year they will ask for a million dollars for this, and next year it will be something else. Pretty soon it adds up.”

Jack Hamilton, a member of the original Silverdale Community Council, has long supported a community campus. However, he questioned the timing as well as whether the new project would compete with the existing Bremerton facility.

This concern was echoed by South Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido, who also wanted an assurance that local contractors would be hired to complete the project.

Ecklund did not commit to this.

“The easy answer is to tell you that we will use local labor,” he said. “In a tie, we will hire a local contractor. But we’re looking for the best quality work and will award the contracts to whomever can do the best job. We want this to be a 100-year building.”

Garrido ended up supporting the resolution authorizing the $1 million allocation, but indicated she would stay firm on the local labor matter.

“There are a lot of fine contractors in Kitsap County,” she said.

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