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McCormick Village Park proposal sees new life

Port Orchard’s Public Property Committee Tuesday revived hope for the first new city park in more than 20 years.

Doug Skrobut, the President of McCormick Land Company, spoke with the committee about long awaited McCormick Village Park and said his intention was to find out if the city was making progress toward the 22-acre park to be located between two streams adjacent to Old Clifton Road and north of the McCorrmick Woods development.

Plans for the proposed park were approved by the Port Orchard Planning Commission in 2010. But funding for the park, which could cost more than $2 million to complete, has been hard to find.

James Weaver, the city’s Planning Director, said city staff annually applies for state and federal grants with the intent of bolstering the existing $650,000 in McCormick Village Park impact fees that were transferred to the city from Kitsap County at the time of the McCormick Woods annexation. So far, the city has not obtained any grant money for the park beyond those funds.

Preliminary McCormick Village Park project budget proposals were also considered for both the 2011 and 2012 budgets, Weaver said, but did not pass through the budget process.

Skrobut said he hoped a discussion with the city’s Public Property Committee could spur preliminary action on the park. Rather than leverage the park money on hand for a matching grants, which have yet to materialize, the city should begin construction on the park in phases, he said.

“We would like to engage the city,” Skrobut told the committee. “If you never start, you never finish.”

A discussion ensued on a possible private-public partnership to plan for park construction.

Skrobut suggested the city move first by thinning some of the trees in the proposed park lands. Thinning trees would come at little cost to the city, Skrobut said, presumably because the timber could be resold. It would also help citizens understand the outline of the proposed park.

“There are so many trees out there that people don’t get a vision of what the park could be,” he said. “To thin the trees could really establish a vision.”

In 2010, the city’s planning commission approved a plan for the park that resembled what the group called it’s Nature and Community Alternative, which would keep park lands as close to a natural state as possible. The proposed park would include an entry plaza, an extensive connection of trails and boardwalks, an amphitheater and a picnic area.

Weaver said that any private-public partnership agreement would clearly identify the scope, nature, type and full extent of any proposed action on the park, including thinning. The next step would be for the McCormick Land Company to research various legal and permitting requirements. The full city council would need to approve any sort of partnership or action on the park.

Weaver said a public-private partnership for work on the park would take time to construct, but could ultimately turn out in a win for both the city and McCormick Village Park.

And a partnership could help move along the park’s current holding pattern, Skrobut said.

“We get in this cycle of applying for grants,” he said. “We’ve got to find a way everyday to move this thing forward.”

The President of the McCormick Land Company will investigate a partnership and report back to the Public Property Committee.

“I’m committed to seeing this park move forward,” he said.

 

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