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Park plans for recreation center revived

South Kitsap residents Mary Colborn and Amanda Modavero are tired of waiting around for the needs of their community to be met. They’ve pooled their resources — and they have a plan.

Colborn and Madavero are planning a fundraising campaign, hoping to finance an $18 million community recreation center at South Kitsap Community Park that would include exercise, meeting, computer and recreation rooms, indoor and outdoor walking trails and theaters, sports fields, basketball, tennis and racquetball courts, gardens, a miniature golf course and a skateboard park.

It’s a plan, Colborn said, that’s taken a long time to get off the ground.

“Other communities in the county have these things,” Colborn said. “We believe that South Kitsap deserves them, too.”

According to Colborn, South Kitsap resident and longtime parks supporter Chuck Jeu asked her last fall to help carry forward his vision of a recreation center in South Kitsap Community Park.

She agreed.

“He has held onto that vision for close to 25 years. It has been both humbling and an honor for him to ask me to carry it forward,” Colborn said. “I believe in the (recreation) center that Chuck envisions for the people of South Kitsap. I believe with input from the people we can achieve something that meets important needs and helps tens of thousands of people far into the future. I believe in this vision so intently that Amanda Mogavero, my co-chairperson, and I have hit the pavement taking the plan to as many people as we can.”

Colborn said she and Mogavero have met with current and former South Kitsap Community Park District Commissioner Melissa Lund and current Commissioners Ron Flerx, Larry Walker and Margie Rees and found them all receptive to the idea of a recreational center — if funding can be secured.

“We have attended the focus group meetings of the county to learn the needs of our community so that these needs can be adequately addressed,” Colburn said. “We (also) met with Mark Mauren, the new county park director, to share the vision. We have met with our local legislators, Derek Kilmer and Pat Lantz to ask for their support. Two weeks ago, I even took copies of the plans to Washington, D.C., where I shared them with Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Rep. Norm Dicks.”

Colborn said she received the encouragement she needed to start raising funds. She and Mogavero are launching a capital fund drive titled “Pennies for the Park.”

An open meeting to share the vision with the community and officially launch the capital fund drive will be held on April 25 at Marcus Whitman Junior High from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the audiovisual room.

“Every penny given will reflect citizen ownership in this park,” Colborn said. “Every penny will enable the giver to contribute to a grand vision — a penny drive funded the base of the Statue of Liberty and a penny drive by a third grade class helped build the visitor’s center for the Lincoln Memorial. In this case, a penny drive will show the world, how much we care about each other and this park.”

On Oct. 12, 2005, the Seattle Times ran a story about Jeu in its Life section. The Northwest Parks Foundation contacted him and agreed to serve as the umbrella agency to manage the fund named for him — The Chuck F. Jeu Cultural, Recreational and Sports Center Fund.

“We hope to pull together a coalition of people who want to help make Chuck’s vision become a reality,” Colborn said. “We plan to invite all potential park users to the meeting to gauge their interest and address their needs.”

For all Colborn’s planning, she said she knows there are hurdles to be cleared. A similar center is planned for Port Orchard’s First Lutheran Church, and she cannot get anything built in the South Kitsap Community Park, no matter how it’s funded, without the approval of the Park’s Board of Commissioners.

“We, the board, have not discussed any ventures with this recreational facility whatsoever on my watch,” said Board Chair Ron Flerx. ““We’re working on our Master Plan. I don’t expect to be done with that until September. I’m not even in a position to discuss a facilities agreement right now.”

Colborn, however, said she will move forward.

“The past history and politics don’t serve to help advance the vision of creating recreational opportunities for the people of South Kitsap, so we feel it is best at this time to ignore them,” Colborn said. “The needs are too great to let the politics stand in the way of public health.

“We must go forward with this vision in spite of politics,” she said. “We take the stance that the need is to great to ignore and this is as good a time as any.”

For more information call Colborn at (360) 674-2166 or e-mail Webelievewecan@aol.com.

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