Community effort makes park a reality

In a rare but welcome reversal of the famous Joni Mitchell lament about paving paradise to put up parking lots, workers began turning a small patch of concrete downtown into a public park this month.

On Friday, volunteers were laying down dirt for the various shrubs and flowers that will join several benches to create Kitsap Transit’s latest addition to the water end of Sidney Avenue in Port Orchard.

Wendy Clark-Getzin, the agency’s director of capital, said plans have been in the works for years to turn the small lot into a more inviting area for visitors to the waterfront.

“We thought at first we didn’t have enough money for this work, but we found a little bit of funding from the state and decided to move forward,” she said, explaining that the park is still owned by Kitsap Transit and will serve as an extension of its new passenger transfer center.

Another little bit of serendipity that brought the project to life was the scientist that helped Kitsap Transit consulted to design its new passenger gangway was Wayne Wright, who just happened to be looking for a good project for his club, the Port Orchard Rotary, to help complete.

“I was meeting with (Clark-Getzin) about building the terminal, and she mentioned that her agency wanted to create a park near the terminal, but that the bid they received on the work was very disappointing,” Wright said. “So I told her I’d take it to my Rotary board, and maybe we’d build it for them.”

Sure enough, Wright said his club happily took on the project — but not alone.

“This is truly a group project that has enlisted a whole bunch of community groups — local Boy Scouts, Friends of the Library, and the McCormick Woods Garden Club, along with the Port Orchard Rotary,” he said. “We were just the catalyst for getting these groups together.”

Clark-Getzin estimated the park, as planned, will cost about $15,000, but said most of the labor and materials needed are being donated by the volunteers and community groups, and that so far all Kitsap Transit has contributed is equipment.

Wright said originally they hoped to complete the park by Aug. 6, but now it looks like the crews are shooting for Aug. 16, which is when a tentative dedication ceremony is scheduled to celebrate both the park and the new foot-ferry passenger terminal.

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