Category Archives: Parks

County’s 2008 pledge to South Kitsap park mostly fulfilled

The editor’s rejected my suggested headline, “Pigs fly at skatepark groundbreaking,” which was made of course tongue in cheek for today’s story about big news for South Kitsap Regional Park.

The start of construction on the skatepark is a milestone for the park, which the county acquired in 2008 from a floundering South Kitsap Parks and Recreation District. Much planning and design has been done. But except for a new playground installed in 2010 and renovation of existing ballfields, there hasn’t been a lot of visible evidence of progress at the park, in which former South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel pledged the county would invest $2.19 million (see below for where the money spent so far has gone).

In 2007, not all of South Kitsap Parks and Recreation District members were down with the proposed transfer. District commissioners felt protective of the 200-acre park that they’d been unable to maintain, and some believed the county would sell of some of the mostly forested land.

The late Margie Rees, a parks district commissioner, and her husband Leon offered the district a loan of $13,000 to help it pay off an election debt that the county was holding over the district’s head as leverage for the park take-over. And the emotion-landen battle got even crazier, as community members who sided with the county accused the district of setting fire to an equipment shed insurance fraud. The parks district netted $20,000 in an insurance settlement from an equipment shed fire at the park. The district indicated it would use the settlement toward the election debt. Kathryn Simpson and Judi Edwards, who initiated the investigation, accused the district of inflating the cost of lost materials. The district was cleared of the charges and the transfer went forward by a single-vote majority on the split district board of commissioners.

Angel promised, and the agreement stated, that the park would remain a park in perpetuity. The $2.19 million was a carrot held out as incentive and reward. Angel envisioned the renovated park as a “shining jewel in South Kitsap’s crown.”

Here’s a timeline, showing circumstances that contributed to delays in development of the park. Below that is the county’s accounting of where the $2.19 million has gone (and how much is left on the original pledge).

South Kitsap Regional Park Timeline
2007: Kitsap County acquires park from South Kitsap Parks and Recreation District, an effort led by South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel.
2008: Skatepark supporters formalize as the nonprofit South Kitsap Skatepark Association.
November 2008: County completes a 13-month public master planning process.
January 2009: Charlotte Garrido becomes South Kitsap Commissioner as the county makes deep budget cuts due to the recession.
June 2009: Longtime Parks and Recreation Director Chip Faver steps down.
November 2009: New parks head Jim Dunwiddie takes the reins from interim director Arvilla Ohlde.
October 2010: Park Project Manager Martha Droge leaves. Her position remains vacant due to budget constraints until summer, 2012.
March 2011: SKSPA toys with the idea of a smaller skatepark in the city of Port Orchard.
June 2011: SKSPA scores a $75,000 grant from the Birkenfeld Trust. Permitting for skatepark is under way.
Sept. 10: County signs contract with Grindline Skateparks for phase I and II of the skatepark.
Sept. 29: Groundbreaking at the park
March 2013: Estimated opening of skatepark.

South Kitsap Regional Park by the numbers
Kitsap County’s funding commitment to the park: $2.19 million
Source of county funds (2007): Park capital, $1.45 million; sale of surplus land, $220,500 ($1.67 million total); Washington State Recreation and Conservation Grant, $500,000
Donations: South Kitsap Skatepark Association $108,000 (for skatepark); Chuck Jeu family, $14,519 (earmarked for future tennis courts)

Cost Summary
Master plan: $354,548
General design, engineering, soil and traffic studies, $338,935
Design of skatepark, $32,952
Design of roads and paths, $13,433
Athletic field renovation, $13,080
Testing and permits, $17,511
Playground purchase and installation, $205,489
Skatepark phase I and II construction and path grading, $740,478

Total park expenditures through March 2013: $1,716,426 (including $500,000 RCO grant and $108,000 from SKSPA)
County’s total expenditures to date: about $1.65 million
Remainder of county’s 2007 commitment of 2.19 million: approximately $500,000.
Next steps: Grading near north entrance for future ballfields and “traffic safety improvements” at both entrances. Not on the radar in the immediate future, new restrooms, which were listed as a high priority during the public planning process.
The county is well-positioned to received a state grant in 2013 of nearly $150,000.

9/11 Memorial Committee response

In response to today’s story about the 9/11 Memorial Committee, Bremerton City Councilman Jim McDonald sent this note out to the folks you see listed here.

From: Jim McDonald
Sent: Wednesday, October 05, 2011 9:21 AM
To: City Council; Mayor Lent; Wyn Birkenthal
Cc: Dave Fergus; Roy Lusk
Subject: 9-11 Committee Update

Based on the recent press regarding the 9-11 Memorial Committee, I wanted to give you an update from the last report where I discussed the resignations.

First of all, I was shocked and disappointed to see the accusations in the Kitsap Sun this morning by the former committee members. The remaining committee volunteers continue to do incredible things and expend a ton of their own time and money to this cause. You only need to look back to the 10-year anniversary event last month to see the types of things this group can accomplish.

As the committee has grown and collected more funds, they have taken steps to improve the organization. Earlier this year (or late last year) the committee had been in contact with a CPA for assistance. The current treasurer has been working with the CPA to review the committee procedures. While the committee already had some good financial controls in place (like two people required to sign checks), they are also moving to improve the financial reporting by migrating from a notebook with receipts and bank statements to QuickBooks. This will allow for easier reporting and monthly reconciliation. By the time this is completed, they will have financial controls better than most non-profit organizations.

While the focus the last couple of months has been on the successful Memorial and Groundbreaking ceremonies, Dave Fergus and Wyn Birkenthal have been recently discussing the process to arrive at the final design. I expect that effort to begin shortly. Once complete, I also expect that much of the labor and material needed for the Memorial will come from in-kind donations. For example, the trucking company that has been moving the two World Trade Center beams to all the events and parades has done it all for no charge. All the chairs and most of the cost for the expensive sound system were donated for the Memorial ceremony. Proceeds from concessions were donated to the Committee. The list of community support goes on and on.

Since the resignation of the committee members, there have been more people attending the committee meetings and there have been more volunteers. In fact, at last night’s 9-11 committee meeting, we had a lot of the volunteers join the committee with comments that a lot more folks would like to be on the committee. To keep the organization from getting too big too fast, the committee passed a motion to limit the current size of the committee to 30 members.

I remain totally convinced that this organization will complete the Memorial. The organization is filled with people with integrity and who remain extremely dedicated and passionate about this cause. As the City Council appointee to 9-11 Memorial Committee, I am very proud to be associated with this group. Please feel free to attend a committee meeting and see for yourself.


Jim McDonald
Bremerton City Council
District 1

Planning For Future Park Use

Brynn Grimley writes:

Monday night the board of county commissioners were set to approve the Newberry Hill Heritage Park master plan. I wrote about the plan back in April when the committee finished its work on the document. The committee (made up of anyone who wanted to be involved and have a say) met five times and created a plan for how it would like to see the park developed in the future. An appointed steering committee then reviewed the committee’s suggestions to make sure they were in line with the larger guiding principles established by the group.

Initially there was a lot of interest in the park — both during the county’s swap with the Department of Natural Resources to get the land and at the first public master plan meeting. But by the end, while a number of people stayed involved in the planning process, the overall public interest in the project seemed to have subsided.

One reason could be because once people realized the idea was to keep the uses of the park “passive” (i.e. walking, biking, horse trails, no ball fields, no motorized vehicles, etc.), they didn’t feel the need to voice concerns.

I didn’t attend Monday’s commissioner meeting, so I’m not sure what if any testimony will be given regarding the park plan. I’m assuming the plan will pass, but I’ve learned in this business it’s never safe to assume. So I’ll update this Tuesday after I come into work if anything changes.

While there isn’t much to update on the park planning front, I did learn that the county is close to acquiring the remaining 315 acres it needs to complete the park and make it 1,082 acres. The county acquired 247 acres in the north end of the park in 2004. It then got the 520 acres to the south from DNR in 2009, but still needed the land in the middle of those to parcels to complete its park.

The state said it’d gladly convey the land to the county, but asked the county to foot the bill of that process because it didn’t foresee having the financing needed to pay for its staff time to complete the work. The county set aside $15,000 to help pay for that process. It sounds like the county spent closer to $10,000, and the land conveyance has been approved by the county and state.

Now it’s slowly making its way through the process of getting the various signatures it needs to be final, according to county Parks and Recreation Director Jim Dunwiddie. Originally the county hoped to have the acquisition done by June, but as we head closer to July, it’s now sounding like it will be finalized closer to September.