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County to parks board: ‘Pay up’

It’s time for the South Kitsap Community Park Board of Commissioners to pay the piper.

Kitsap County Commissioner Jan Angel said she is tired of the mismanagement of South Kitsap Community Park and hopes to avoid enabling the park’s Board of Commissioners to accrue any further debt this election season.

Angel has issued a letter to the board that includes a clear ultimatum — pay the County $34,089.72 or the Board will be dissolved and the park will revert to the County.

“They haven’t had revenue to operate the park,” Angel said. “My concern with that now, and what really brought this to a head, is that they have three out of five board members up for re-election.”

Angel said the election will cost the Board $20,000 to $25,000, putting the agency even further in debt to the county.

Board chairman Larry Walker said the board has been paying the county $1,000 a month for more than a year and officials had never complained before. He said he was taken aback by the letter.

“I’ve only seen a faxed copy,” Walker said.

“That is incorrect,” Angel said, insisting she and other county commissioners met with Walker and other board members in March and have been waiting for them to discuss the subject among themselves and reply ever since.

According to Angel, their payments have not been consistent.

“I don’t know who made the ($1,000 per month) agreement with them,” Angel said, “but they’ve been in this boat for five years that I know of.”

The letter sent to the board states that commissioners must vote to dissolve the board by May 20 or the county will foreclose.

“We would have to file for payment of debt,” Angel explained. “We asked for that date because we’re getting down to the wire (in terms of filing to run for the positions).”

According to Walker, the board might still have a chance.

“We have been exploring some options,” Walker said. “We are talking to people outside the park and exploring the idea of putting together some partnerships that could actually be revenue-generating.”

However, Walker would not give specifics, saying, “There’s not enough hard data to even discuss it.”

“I would dearly love to see the park keep growing and see these people who have been with this park since the beginning have their interest protected,” Walker said.

Angel, who once owned property adjacent to the park, said after the park is owned by the county, an interlocal agreement would prevent it from becoming anything but a park.

She said although she hasn’t said anything to anyone yet, she will be seeking partnerships with community organizations to maintain the park.

“It has to stay as a park through our interlocal agreement,” Angel said.

“I acknowledge how hard the board members have worked,” Angel concluded. “(But) the people who are suffering for this are the South Kitsap citizens and the youth. We need a vital, active park.”

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