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Public to get view of S. Kitsap park options June 11

South Kitsap residents will get a sneak peak at options for South Kitsap Community Park’s future tonight.

A public workshop to examine possibilities for the development of the park is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the Kitsap County Commissioners’ chambers in Port Orchard and will include a viewing of various project proposals.

“This is part of a public process where the public will have a great deal of input at each stage of development,” said Park Projects Coordinator Martha Droge. “At the first workshop we will acknowledge and review the work that has already been done, as we prepare to take the leap into the next step of development — understanding the kinds of activities we want, and which of those are most appropriate for the land.”

Development of the 200-acre park, at the corner of Jackson Avenue and Lund Avenue in Port Orchard, has stalled for many years. Last year’s acquisition of the land by Kitsap County signaled an intention to move forward — message county officials hope to reinforce with tonight’s meeting.

The workshop is the first of four planned gatherings.

On July 16, planners will present alternative drawings about how park uses might be arranged and coordinated. The public will be invited to express their preferences among the alternatives or even suggest other new combinations of elements.

On Sept. 17 a more refined drawing that incorporates all previous suggestions will be unveiled, while the final plan will be presented at a currently unscheduled meeting.

After approval by the Parks Advisory Board, the final plan will be passed, rejected or modified by the county commissioners.

Droge expects the final plan to be approved by the end of 2008, at which point projects will be prioritized.

Detailed planning will then begin for those areas, with construction beginning in 2009. Droge said each new subsequent project within the park will have its own defined dates of design and construction and will follow the latest version of the master plan.

And there is no projected completion date, because the park will never be finished.

“When you finish a building that represents the end of the construction process,” Droge said. “With a park it is the opposite. When you open a park it represents the beginning of its life. There is constant growth and change, and you are always updating the master plan.”

Droge said the park’s development is a “collaborative process” that depends not only on majority preference but what uses best fit with the land in its current configuration.

“You need to look at the park within the context of all the other parks in the county,” she said. “And you need to listen to what the land tells you about what activities should go where, and what activities should be next to each other.”

Droge said wetlands and existing landscaping will help to determine specific activity locations.

Kathryn Simpson, a longtime critic of the SK Parks Board, is pleased with the process as outlined by the Kitsap Parks Department.

“I am real jazzed about this,” she said. “I am anxious to see how this will play out. They have done their diligence and it looks like a quality project. This has been a very well-organized effort.”

Speaking at the workshops is only one way for people to provide input, and those who cannot attend can call (877-292-6412), send an e-mail (skpark@co.kitsap.wa.us) or visit the www.skpark.org Web site.

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