Park plan approved, first phase subsidized

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The planning phase for South Kitsap Regional Park was completed Monday night, with approval by the Kitsap County commissioners of its master plan.

“This is a community plan,” said Parks Projects Coordinator Martha Droge. “It is the result of a high degree of public participation that will become a tremendous benefit for the citizens of South Kitsap.

The plan calls for renovation of the southeast quadrant of the 200-acre park at the corner of Jackson and Lund Avenues, building a variety of ball fields and recreational facilities.

The remainder will be developed as a trail system.

The total cost of the project is undetermined, and is estimated to be as high as $20 million.

Currently, the project has access to $1.7 million that was allocated for the project, which is enough to get started.

“This park is unique from our other parks since we have enough in the bank to pay for the first phase,” said Droge. “The money is protected and will not be co-mingled with other projects. The next phases will take some creativity and considerable fundraising, but by then the economy will presumably have improved.”

The first phase will include a playground, skate park, road renovations, trail improvements and a building that will headquarter the maintenance activities for all South Kitsap parks.

The next phases, labeled 2 through 5, will include ball fields, bleachers, tennis courts, trail marking and other activities.

Droge said that future development will be “iterative rather than linear,” and the schedule for these facilities will unfold as funding is secured and the community decides which should go next.

“There is no list as to what will be in each phase,” she said. “It will have to do with how much money we can charge for the services the facilities will support.”

The process began in July 2007, when the South Kitsap Parks and Recreation District relinquished the property to Kitsap County Parks through a legal settlement under which the county, in exchange for park ownership, excused past election debt and committed to investing $2.19 million in improvements at the park over six years.

The agreement also states that the park must remain a park.

The county then held a series of public workshops during which the facilities were discussed.

Around $1.7 million of the allocated money remains, after paying for the planning process and ball field improvements. Droge said the funds will cover most of the first phase, but some will be used as matching funds for future grant applications.

Droge, who said that the park is a work in progress, is pleased with what has been been done so far.

“We are proud of what we have accomplished,” she said. “It will be expensive, but it is a long-term commitment.”

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