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Public views options for SK Community Park

Planning for the South Kitsap Community Park took another step Wednesday night with the public unveiling of three plans for upgrading the 200-acre facility and transforming it into a regional recreation center.

“I think it was a very successful meeting,” said Kitsap County Parks Project Coordinator Martha Droge. “It was intended to give the public and the community a role in the planning and design of the park, and gave them an understanding of what is reasonable with the park. And we heard enough about people’s preferences to come up with the next draft.”

Droge acknowledges that all these features may not end up in the finished park, and that the plans were attempting to put “ten pounds of use into a five pound bag.” However, by using a filter of “enlightened frugality” the public will be able to get most of what they want.

The three options were developed after a June meeting, during which participants juggled the location of different facilities with chips on a board. This led to Wednesday’s options, labeled “mixed-intensity,” “center spine” and “separate-but-near.”

Facilitators did not expect the public to embrace one of the plans, but to cross-pollinate the options into one that reflects a majority preference. From all indications, that’s precisely what occurred on Wednesday.

For example, park maintenance worker Brian Hauschel expressed a preference for placing the maintenance shed toward the edge of the park for easy access from the outside and to not require trucks to traverse the park.

The idea of a skate park is one of the most prominent needs, with organized support and a consultant ready to design a first-class facility. Within these boundaries there are some preferences: Educators requested that the skate park be placed away from the learning center, as kids visiting for nature seminars wouldn’t pay attention if their friends were performing on skateboards nearby.

Additionally, the idea flow is not closed. In the middle of the discussion one participant asked for the installation of wireless Internet (Wi-Fi) within park boundaries. And one of the facilitators dutifully wrote the idea down, for possible inclusion in the next plan.

Droge said it could be at least 15 years before the park approaches anything resembling ”finished.”

Additionally, budgeting is a moving target. Currently, the county has access to approximately $2 million, but this includes operating expenses.

For this reason, the Parks Department will need to continually replenish its resources with available grants.

Droge, however, is optimistic about this process, saying, “When you have a vision like this, you will be more successful in raising funds. It gives you more credibility if you can show that you will spend in a responsible fashion.”

Parks Director Chip Faver, while attempting a repeat of his call-and-response parks evangelism in the last meeting, said that serious and substantial support from everyone present.

While he stopped just short of saying “send money,” he underscored the need of spreading the word across the county and to the commissioners’ ears.

“We’re either going to have to close some parks or raise the money to keep them open,” he said later. “We need to raise everyone’s consciousness about this situation.”

In all scenarios, the major development would take place at the southeast portion of the park, at the corner of Jackson and Lund.

Both streets would have an access point, several hundred feet from the intersection.

The remainder of the park would feature a network of trails, improving and expanding what already exists.

The majority of participants favor centrally located ball fields and courts, according to Droge.

Restrooms situated in decentralized locations throughout the park are also preferred.

The next step is to develop a single plan from this input, to be presented at a meeting on Sept. 17.

Droge said the results could be analyzed and presented earlier, but, “It’s hard to get people to participate in a public meeting during August.”

For more information or to comment, call (877) 292-6412, send an e-mail (skpark@co.kitsap.wa.us) or visit the www.skpark.org Web site.

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