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Attorney’s letter threatens park’s reopening, but clients willing to cooperate for concessions
A letter sent by an attorney for a group of Millihanna Road residents to the head of Kitsap County Parks and Recreation, stated he would threaten legal action if Anderson Point Park is reopened, but his clients “would be willing to cooperate with the county and assist in acquiring a lawful means of access” if the the county and park advocates would make a few concessions.
Attorney Ronald Templeton sent the letter March 18 by email to Jim Dunwiddie, director of the parks department, along with Commissioners Charlotte Garrido, Robert Gelder and Linda Streissguth.
In February, 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. 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.
The park was purchased by Kitsap County for $1 million in 1999.
In the letter, Templeton stated his clients will seek damage and injunctive relief prohibiting the county and the public from accessing the park via Millihanna Road. He noted the county does not have “record” access over most of Millihanna Road, even if the county claims it has a prescriptive easement claim.
In June, the gate was installed on Millihanna Road without any formal agreement with the county and with no public knowledge or input.
Templeton, of Silverdale, also stated in addition to injunctive relief, his clients would seek damages for trespass and inverse condemnation, but would be willing to “cooperate with the County and assist it in acquiring a lawful means of access if the county and the vocal park advocates would make a few modest concessions.”
The concessions would include a paved two-lane road meeting county standards, speed bumps, speed limit and no parking signs, parking on the park property and the retention of a gate that remains closed and accessible only to the Millihanna Road residents from dusk to dawn.
In addition, vocal parks advocates would need to remove all unfavorable references to the Millihanna Road residents on their website, permanently refrain from disparaging the residents and vow to use the road during park hours only.
Templeton suggested to avoid litigation that county officials arrange a meeting with the Millihanna Road residents to try to reach an “amicable resolution” in the matter.
A copy of the letter also appeared on the Kitsap Citizens for opening Anderson Point Park (Olalla) page on Facebook and was sent to county commissioners.
The 66-acre park was closed due to landslides and washouts created by the severe storms of December 2010. Since then, Kitsap County has been unable secure funding from outside sources, such as FEMA and Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, to offset projected costs to repair the areas and stabilize the land.
Below is a letter send by Templeton to Dunwiddie:
RONALD c. TEMPLETON, P.S.
ATTORNEY AT LAW
3212 NW BYRON STREET # 104 • SILVERDALE, WA 98383
TELEPHONE (360) 692-6415 • FAX (360) 692-1257
March 18, 2014
James R. Dunwiddie, Director
Kitsap County Parks & Recreation
614 Division Street, MS-1
Port Orchard, W A 98366
Via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Re: Anderson Point Park
Dear Mr. Dunwiddie:
I represent several residents who reside on Millihanna Road near the Anderson Point Park property owned by Kitsap County. I understand the Parks Department has announced its intention to reopen the Park for public use.
While my clients recognize that the Park Property is a valuable and important resource that should be available for use by the public, unless or until the County holds itself to the same standards to which it requires private sector property owners and developers to adhere, my clients will seek damage and injunctive relief prohibiting the County and the public from accessing the Park via Millihanna Road.
As I am certain you are aware, Kitsap County does not have "record" access over most of Millihanna Road. While the County may well claim it has a prescriptive easement claim, the type of public use contemplated by the County exceeds the scope of any prescriptive rights the County or the public may have obtained. Under the common law of the State of Washington, the proposed uses result in “overburdening”, a legal term which "results in trespass as a matter of law". See Richardson v. Cox, 108 Wn. App. 881 (2001); Brown v. Voss, 105 Wn.2d 366 (1986).'
In addition to injunctive relief, my clients would undoubtedly seek damages for trespass and inverse condemnation.
I am certain my clients would be willing to cooperate with the County and assist it in acquiring a lawful means of access if the County and the vocal Park advocates would make a few modest concessions.
These would include the development of a paved two lane road meeting the standards Kitsap County would require for any size plat; the inclusion of speed bumps, speed limit signage and no parking signage; the development of adequate parking on the Park Property; and the retention of a gate that remains closed and accessible only to the Millihanna Road residents from dusk to dawn. In addition, the vocal Parks advocates need to remove all unfavorable references to the Millihanna Road residents on their website, permanently refrain from disparaging those residents and vow to use the road during park hours only and in a safe and respectful manner.
It is my sincere hope it will not be necessary for my clients to initiate litigation. To this end, I suggest that you, someone from Public Works, a County Commissioner and someone from the prosecutor's office arrange a meeting with the Millihanna Road residents to try to reach an amicable resolution of this matter.
cc: Commissioner Robert Gelder
Commissioner Charlotte Garrido
Commissioner Linda Streissguth