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)
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.