SK Regional Park plan hailed for ‘sustainability’

Kitsap County
Kitsap County's plan to renovate the South Kitsap Regional Park has been praised for its “sustainability.”
— image credit: Courtesy photo

The Sustainable Sites Initiative (SITES) announced the selection of the South Kitsap Regional Park Master Plan Phase 1 Design as one of the first landscapes to participate in a new program testing the nation’s first rating system for green landscape design, construction and maintenance.

South Kitsap Regional Park will join more than 150 other projects from 34 states as well as from Canada, Iceland and Spain as part of an international pilot project program to evaluate the new SITES rating system for sustainable landscapes, with and without buildings.

Sustainable landscapes can clean water, reduce pollution and restore habitats, while providing significant economic and social benefits to land owners and municipalities.

SITES, a partnership of the American Society of Landscape Architects, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas at Austin and the United States Botanic Garden, selected South Kitsap Regional Park based on its extensive environmentally friendly elements.

These sustainable practices include:

• focusing the majority of development in areas already disturbed by past development;

• minimizing soil disturbance during design and construction;

• using low impact development strategies to capture storm water runoff on site and provide landscape amenities;

• protecting existing tree canopy; and,

• promoting education about sustainable design.

The 200-acre site will be developed to provide South Kitsap County residents with a high-quality, multifacility park that still reserves two-thirds of the land as a natural forest accessible by nature trails.

South Kitsap Regional Park’s Master Plan was created through a well-attended public process in 2007-2008.

Multiple alternative designs presented to the public in summer 2008 led to the final master plan that was designed by a consulting team led by Tacoma-based design firm BCRA that also included Valerian Landscape Architects, Norton-Arnold & Co. (public process facilitation), Anchor Environmental (environmental assessment), New Line Skateparks Inc. (skate park design), and PROS Consulting (business planning).

The master plan was adopted by the Kitsap County commissioners in December 2008.

When the county assumed ownership of the park in July 2007, it did so with a requirement to spend $2.19 million to improve the park.

In July 2009, these funds and the 2008 master plan drawing were used to secure $500,000 in Recreation and Conservation Office (RCO) grant funds to pay for the design and construction of Phase 1 master plan implementation projects, including a new playground, skate park, athletic fields, trail improvements, safe road crossings, and entry road and parking upgrades.

A design services contract to create all construction drawings for Phase 1 projects was signed on May 24, 2010.

Construction on Phase 1 master plan projects will begin when the drawings are complete and all permits are received.

Using SITES guidelines, the Phase 1 master plan project design will use strategies such as those mentioned above to create a park that optimizes the three sides of the “sustainability triad” by being good for public use, good for the environment and cost-efficient to install and maintain.

South Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido said, “The Sustainable Sites Initiative tools are very practical. They help us measure the success of great ideas that came from this community as we begin to reenergize South Kitsap Regional Park. So while the playground and gardens go in, we are testing the SITES benchmarks for things like innovative materials, site design and the health benefits to park users.”

SITES will use feedback from this and the other selected projects during the pilot phase, which runs through June 2012, to revise the final rating system and reference guide by early 2013.

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