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County wants input on parks, open space

The Kitsap County Department of Facilities, Parks and Recreation will conduct three public meetings this week in order to gather input about the future of the county parks system.

“We want to develop a plan that will look at the use of all open space and park lands,” said Rick Fackler, a retired parks employee hired as a consultant to help run the meetings. “It is to determine how we can all work together to get the facilities we all want.

These meetings are the kickoff of a six-month, state-mandated public process to update the county’s Park, Recreation and Open Space Plan.

The meetings are scheduled for 7 p.m., Jan. 10, at the Community Center at Long Lake County Park in Port Orchard; 7 p.m. Jan. 11 at the Eagle’s Nest on the Kitsap County Fairgrounds, and 7 p.m., Jan. 12 in Room 219 at the Poulsbo Campus of Olympic College.

Fackler said the plans must be submitted every six years in order to retain state funding. The last plan, passed in 2000, directed that the county acquire as much land as possible.

Since the 2000 plan was adopted, the county has purchased large regional “heritage” park sites throughout the county, including Banner Forest and Coulter Creek Heritage Park in South Kitsap, Illahee Preserve and Port Blakely lands in Central Kitsap, and North Kitsap Heritage Park and Hansville Greenway additions in North Kitsap.

This year’s efforts, however, will concentrate on the use and development of the recently acquired land.

“We have a lot of new land to work with,” Fackler said, “although we could use some additional waterfront property.”

As part of the planning process, the county will be meeting with providers of park, recreation and open space services within the county to discuss how the community can best work in a coordinated way to most effectively provide needed services.

A series of meetings will also be held with groups of facility users and advocates, such as trail users, field sport representatives, preservation advocates and sport courts to gather opinions on the needs for land, facilities and programs for various recreational activities.

As a result, advocates for certain recreation types are expected to band together and present the reasons why their activity is more pertinent or useful than others.

These different projects are limited by a finite amount of county funds. Fackler, however, said activities funding is not limited to the county. Those who advocate certain sports can find alternate funding sources that can improve their position.

Data assembled at the meetings will be eventually presented before the Parks Board and the County Commission.

For further information, contact Kitsap County Facilities, Parks and Recreation Director Mark Mauren at (360) 337-4252, mmauren@co.kitsap.wa.us, or Rick Fackler, (206) 380-5549.

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