Parks Board still weighing offers

Ron Cleveland, owner of the Washington Renaissance Fantasy Faire, re-emerged Thursday night to make his second appearance before the South Kitsap Parks and Recreation Board.

Cleveland came back to the board after giving a short presentation last month after which the commissioners told him to come back with a more fiscally developed proposal.

He is looking to build several permanent structures in South Kitsap Community Park, including an outdoor theater, and hopes to have at least a “soft-site,” a temporary place to hold next summer’s Faire, by March.

“The Faire simply cannot go on at its current location,” Cleveland said. “(The site) is just too small.”

According to Cleveland, the Faire has averaged a 40 percent growth each year since it opened in 1997. This year alone, Cleveland said, he spent $65,000 advertising the Faire.

Cleveland said the board and the larger community have little to lose and much to gain by allowing him to develop a permanent site for the Faire.

“(The Faire) brought in $1 million last year to Gig Harbor,” Cleveland, said. “That is a solid number, an entirely realistic figure.”

The Faire is also a source of year-round income, Cleveland said, and an educational and cultural draw as well. He said he will continue to develop the Faire completely out of his own pocket and has already started taking steps to get a capital funding grant.

He just needs a piece of land. In exchange, he is willing to give back up to $40,000 to the board, annually.

Cleveland said he wants a permanent site that will support the continuing growth of the Faire over the next 10 to 20 years. The Faire is currently located in Gig Harbor on 30 acres owned by Elmer Anderson of Port Orchard.

Cleveland said he expects the permanent structures built in the park would not exceed 10-acres. However, he needs 20 to 25 acres of parking inside the park, although he plans to not develop any parking facility past a simple grass lot.

Other elements the board must consider are up to 300 people a night camping in the park during Faire weekends and the chain-link fence Cleveland said he would put up around the permanent Faire structures — a necessity, he said, to protect his personal investment in the Faire.

“We’re really, really interested,” said Commissioner Charlotte Garrido. Commissioner John Palo echoed Garrido’s sentiments. “It would be inconceivable not to seriously consider something that might help our community to the tune of seven figures,” he said.

Cleveland’s plans in the park have worried some current tenants, but Cleveland said his location in the park is negotiable.

Board Chair Larry Walker was adamant that no tenant would be cast out if the Board approved Cleveland’s request.

“No new development will be to the detriment of our long-term existing tenants,” Walker said.

Cleveland is scheduled to attend the Board’s meeting on July 28 to further discuss his proposal with the board.

In other Parks Board actions:

• Chuck Jeu’s community center is an election no-go. Jeu’s campaign raised only about half of the $25,000 it needed to put the concept of a community center to the voters, although several Commissioners claimed they were speechless at the thoroughness of Jeu’s drawings.

Commissioners, with the board already over $30,000 in debt, said the center was “worth pursuing” after Jeu handed over a large stack of postcards collected from people in support of the center.

According to Commissioner Melissa Lund, the board is still “embracing all ideas.”

• Commissioners recently held an executive session regarding the board’s 1990 contract with the Annapolis Water District, which states that in exchange for three well sites the water company will pay the board $1 every five years.

According to John Palo in a meeting early last week, the board’s only permanent source of income is the 20 cents a year from the Annapolis Water District, 20 cents he said he has no record of ever even receiving the past few years.

Palo said the board is currently organizing its records and preparing for discussion on a course of action regarding the contract.

Palo said the contract is stopping the park from negotiating with Karcher Creek Sewer District the use of recycled water (wastewater) in the park, a solution he said would benefit all three parties.

• The Board found last week any revenue made by cutting down trees in the park does not belong to the poard. Revenue would be divided between Kitsap County and the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the agency that owns the actual timber.

According to Palo, commissioners cannot approve any project that includes the cutting of trees without paying DNR prior to construction.

“I’m glad we found that out,” Walker said. Palo echoed, “To cut down trees on the county’s property you need the county’s permission and DNR’s permission.”

• The board’s master plan continues to move forward. According to Palo, the plan will not be project-specific, but process-oriented, giving current and future ideas for the park an opportunity to become reality.

Palo said the process has been slow because the board is still struggling to tie up the loose ends of previous Boards.

“We don’t want to look back,” Palo said earlier. “You can’t build your house on sand.”

Palo publicly stated that the plan will more than likely be complete by the time his kids go back to school in September. He also spoke to board critics saying, “Whoever shows up at the meetings is going to decide where the park is will go, not the people who write nasty letters.”

• The Board will meet for its administrative meeting on July 28, 6 p.m. at St. Vincent de Paul’s Thrift Store.

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