Parks complaint on again

The South Kitsap Parks and Recreation District held its supposed final meeting on Thursday evening with a cordial conversation regarding Commissioner Warren Collver’s complaint against members of the board.

After promising to drop the initial action against the board on July 2, Collver on Thursday announced he had again changed his mind and will be following up with the Washington State Human Rights Commission on his discrimination claims.

If he does, in fact, follow through on that threat, it could complicate or even delay the board’s long-discussed dissolution and the turning over of its principal asset, South Kitsap Community Park, to the county.

Collver said members of the board discriminated against him and others with disabilities — Collver uses a wheelchair because of complications from multiple sclerosis — when they held meetings in difficult-to-reach locations. He said the members also excluded him from conversations and called the behavior of the members cliquish.

Thursday night’s conversation, which during previous meetings deteriorated into an argument, continued casually.

Collver said he would pursue the complaint against two board members and the board’s attorney, Tony Otto, and handed over a letter from the Human Rights Commission responding to his initial contact.

Board Chair Larry Walker reiterated his concern that the complaint could damage the board’s dissolution, but said, “We’ll see what happens. There’s a system there.”

Board critic Kathryn Simpson, who Collver said previously helped him in his decision to not pursue the complaint, again asked him to reconsider.

“I would ask you to think again if perpetuating this is truly the best course of action,” Simpson said. “It is time for us to set all our differences aside and allow the park to grow.”

Less than a week away from formal dissolution before a Kitsap County Superior Court Judge, Walker and Otto worry the complaint could hinder the process. If the judge finds any claims against the board, the dissolution could be delayed.

Collver claims the complaint is against individual members of the board, and not the board as a whole, and believes the proceedings should be able to continue.

However, if the dissolution is halted, and the board — which no longer owns the South Kitsap Community Park — remains in existence as of Aug. 14, SKPRD would incur up to $30,000 in election debt for the four applicants running for open seats on the board.

Simpson — one of the four applicants — said they applied to finish the dissolution if the board does not; if no one applied for those positions and the board did not complete dissolution, the current board members would remain in place.

Collver initially announced his complaints at the board’s June 28 meeting but renounced them on June 2 after a conversation with Simpson and an apology from one of the board members. He decided to pursue his complaint this week after learning of phone calls to the Human Rights Commission by Otto.

Collver said Otto attempted to incorrectly represent his views in those calls, prompting him to add Otto to the complaint along with two other commissioners.

Collver also cited the argument with Walker at the June 28 meeting.

“He slam-dunked me pretty badly,” Collver said.

At the meeting, Walker stopped Collver from discussing the matter by pounding the table and stating, “I have the floor.” Walker said the conversation could not legally continue at that meeting.

“I don’t think anyone should be treated that way,” Collver said.

He has not publicly stated the two commissioners named in his complaint, but has had a number of arguments with Walker and Commissioner Ron Flerx.

Collver said that the apology that helped his previous decision to not pursue the complaint did not come from the commissioners in his complaint.

Walker maintains that the discrimination did not occur and that Collver is still upset over procedural arguments.

“I believe he’s misconstruing dialogue on procedure with discrimination,” Walker said.

Collver complained to the board about executive session meetings he believed were not properly handled.

The formal dissolution is scheduled for 9 a.m., July 20 at the Kitsap County Superior Court.

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