SK Park handed over to county

Bringing a long series of debates and decisions nearly to an end, the South Kitsap Parks and Recreation District on Thursday signed a quit-claim deed officially handing ownership of the South Kitsap Community Park to Kitsap County.

The district set the dissolution process in motion on Monday, with the group slated to dissolve officially 30 days after.

Parks Board Chair Larry Walker and critics of the board both expressed feelings of relief at the close of a long and hotly contested chapter in the life of the park.

“It’s been a hell of a fun ride,” Walker said, adding that he’ll be taking a break from the public eye. “I’m going to retire to private life for a little while here.”

Grow the Park member Judi Edwards was thrilled Friday when the paperwork was filed at Kitsap County offices.

“Did you feel that earthquake?” Ed-wards asked. “It was me jumping up and down.”

Grow the Park member Kathryn Simp-son was also glad to see the ownership transfer finalized.

“It’s time for growing the park, and I think the county is prepared to get started on that,” Simpson said.

Simpson and two other community members filed for the open positions on the board, which remained on the books because the dissolution was not complete. Simpson said the filing was a strategic move, in case for whatever reason the board is not dissolved by the November election.

“We filed to let them know, ‘Hey, if you don’t wrap it up, we’re going to do the right thing come election time,’” Simpson said.

Simpson and others were concerned that if the board did not dissolve by November, the board would incur more election debt. She added that even though ownership is transferred and dissolution all but complete, she would not withdraw her name.

“I hoped when I filed, and I continue to hope, that my name will not appear on the November ballot,” Simpson said.

With ownership officially in the hands of Kitsap County, maintenance officials have already begun work on the park.

South Kitsap Facilities Supervisor Brian Hauschel said work was under way, and would continue Wednesday with the National Day of Caring, when he expects around 100 volunteers to pitch in.

“It’s a unique opportunity for Kitsap County,” Hauschel said. “We’re looking to just kind of upgrade these things and make it a little more user-friendly than it is now.”

The upgrades include filling in holes on the baseball fields, bringing the play structures up to standard and tidying the trees and shrubbery.

Hauschel hopes to have visibility improved and give the Lund Avenue side a more “park-like setting.”

On June 30, the current parks board will hold a celebration at the South Kitsap Community Park. The board will invite the county commissioners and past board members for a formal transition ceremony.

“We’ve got our business down,” Walker said. “Now we’re going to party.”

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