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Anderson Point Park set to reopen this year
OLALLA — South Kitsap residents lobbying for the reopening of Anderson Point Park got a welcomed surprise last week.
Kitsap County commissioners announced the county will approve $400,000 to the parks department and announced they expect Anderson Point Park to be opened by the year’s end.
District 2 Commissioner Charlotte Garrido said the board assented to the $400,000 for the parks department.
“I don’t know yet if the formal approval has been scheduled, though it should be soon,” she said Tuesday via email.
Half of the $400,000 will be used at the 66-acre South Kitsap park to help shore up trails damaged by landslides in 2010 and to repair Millihanna Road, a gravel driveway to the park’s parking area.
Originally, the county estimated it would take $1.2 million to repair a dirt trail stable enough for emergency vehicles. The park department’s new plan limits the trail’s use to hikers and mountain bikers.
Joel Colvos, who developed the Save Anderson Point Park website, commented about the trail on his Facebook account.
“I think that a trail is actually a better option than a road standard for the long term health of the park,” said Colvos. “Building a trail will make the park much more flexible if there are any future slide problems. It’s much more realistic for how Anderson Point Park is used.”
April Gatz, a member of the Kitsap County Advisory Board, said she was delighted that the efforts have brought more attention to Anderson Point and to Kitsap parks in general.
“Citizen involvement is so key to keeping parks open, clean, and functioning,” said Gatz. “It’s great to have people show so much interest in them. I hope positive interest and involvement from the community continues.”
Parks Director Jim Dunwiddie was excited that commissioners are providing capital project funding to address a few projects that have annually been deferred. He said because the economic downturn drastically affected the funding of county park projects, that the last infusion of cash into the capital facilities account was in 2007.
“I was happy that commissioners are providing capital project funding to address a few projects that have annually been deferred,” Dunwiddie said. “I am anxious to continue our work of developing a solution at Anderson Point Park. Knowing that funds are in place will help keep the process moving forward.”
Dunwiddie said three other projects of a lesser scope will be addressed this year now that funds have been allocated.
Troy Olson, an advocate for the park’s reopening and administer for the Kitsap citizens for opening Anderson Point Park Facebook page, was surprised by the announcement.
“I am pleasantly surprised that Mr. Dunwiddie has provided an estimated date of August for reopening the park,” said Olson.
Olson said he is assembling a list of volunteers to help work on the park when a list of task items comes available from the parks department.
“This work will consist of cleaning out stormwater ditches, clearing culverts and other general handwork,” he said.
Volunteers are asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Olson said there are concerns about residents near the park where the gate was erected.
Residents living on Millihanna Road got together and erected a locked gate across the road after convincing the parks department they had the right to do it. In June, the gate was installed without any formal agreement with the county and with no public knowledge or input.
Since the gate’s installation, area residents used social media and the internet to lobby for the reopening of a county park that closed more than three years ago.
“At one time they said they would open their private gate they erected across the right of way to the park when the park does reopen,” said Olson. “Now with a park opening date looming, a few of them — that are on the Facebook page I administer — have become vocal about the county not actually having any access across their private road and threaten to keep their gate until the county meets their demands with some improvements.”
He said that the residents claim to have an attorney who researched the issue and claims there is no public access to the park despite it being used by the public since the park opened in 2001.
“This is something we are certain the county is looking into and hope will provide some answers soon,” he said.
Olson said despite the continued access concerns, locals are pleased with progress.
“Since beginning the campaign in November 2013 to reopen the park the county has gone from having zero dollars to perform a study on the ‘slide areas’ to paying $25,000 for a completed study in January and now having $400,000 in the parks budget to address Anderson and other parks.” he added. “We are pleased with progress.”
Anderson Point Park officially became a county park in 2000, but was closed in December 2010 because of weather-related damages.
The 72-acre park, located at the end of Millihanna Road, was slammed by rain and more than a dozen mudslides on Dec. 12, 2010.
Heavy rains washed out part of the trail between the parking area and beach. It reduced the path from 12-15 feet in width to 7-10 feet. County officials decided it was unsafe.