PFD nixes Silverdale, picks Fairgrounds

The board of the Kitsap County Public Facilities District (PFD) unanimously picked a proposal to upgrade the county Fairgrounds as the favored option to receive an estimated $10 million state sales tax refund.

A city of Bremerton plan to build a conference center at Sinclair Inlet was listed as the board’s second choice.

A Silverdale Chamber of Commerce proposal to build a conference center on Dyes Inlet was dropped from consideration because of doubts it could meet the Jan. 1, 2003 deadline to receive the .033 percent sales tax rebate.

Members also voiced concerns over ownership of the project. After it was completed, the PFD would assume too much liability.

“The Bremerton project has a advantage for us — they’re going to do it all. The Silverdale project, however, would be ours — we’d have to do it,” said PFD board member Andy Maron of Bainbridge Island.

A steady topic of discussion throughout the Monday meeting was whether the PFD should consider funding two proposals. A recent report from advisors to the board showed that the PFD might have as much as $11.8 million, more than previously estimated.

Board members were reminded that if they delayed a decision, their second choice — Bremerton — would be more challenged to meet the 2003 deadline.

“One of the things every applicant said was ‘don’t delay,’” Terrie O’Neill, a county staffer assisting the PFD, reminded the board.

Six of the seven PFD board members supported the Fairgrounds proposal — only Barry Cook of Bremerton argued the group’s first priority should be to fund a conference center.

PFD Chairman Rick Smith argued that part of the group’s original mission was to bring sports and recreation facilities to the county.

Others argued that the Fairgrounds project would benefit the greatest number of people.

“I think when we came on board here we were going to do something for children and families. The Fairgrounds lends itself to that and I like the project,” said Cary Bozeman, district No. 2 representative.

A McCormick Land Co. proposal to build a conference center in South Kitsap was picked third, and most PFD members agreed that the project should be considered a backup.

Several voiced concerns that customers drawn to the facility would stay there, and tourist dollars would not spread to local business.

“The McCormick Woods site has the potential to be great ... My biggest concern is I don’t think people would leave the facility. Most of the money going to McCormick Woods would stay at McCormick Woods,” said Donna Gross, the PFD board’s Port Orchard representative, who spoke via speaker phone from Spokane.

Cy Wyse said he was concerned Kitsap County residents wouldn’t have use of the facility, and requested more information about public access.

Residents of the Fairgrounds neighborhood were not pleased with the board’s support for improvements to county property.

They complained that the proposal did not do enough to address their concerns about the environment and traffic safety.

Ingrid Nantz said the county recently has spent money on a Tracyton Boulevard traffic calming project, which might divert traffic to nearby roads. She also argued there was not adequate infrastructure to handle the constant flow of traffic the Fairgrounds proposal would bring.

“We have a lot of schools there and there aren’t even sidewalks — are we going to wait for a fatality?” Nantz asked.

Fairgrounds resident Susanne Dixon took consultants Jones and Stokes to task for saying “the site is not close to any wetlands, streams or other sensitive areas in their report.”

She countered that the land is close to the Wally Creek and Pinsch Creek tributaries and that the existing facilities have damaged salmon habitat.

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