Kitsap County’s Department of Community Development issued an administrative revision that paves the way for Kingston High School to get a press box at its football field. The North Kitsap School District applied for a conditional use permit to host home games on campus and to add a press box. The county’s approval lends credibility to the idea that this is Kingston High’s home field for good. A building permit is next, barring appeal of the permit just approved.
While community support in Kingston has been high for home games, support is not universal throughout the district. NK Education, a group of North Kitsap adults interested in the education of their kids, gathered written comments about the field. There were lots, by far the majority, of people opposed who said spending $30,000 to match Kingston boosters’ contribution is too much at a time when the district is cutting elsewhere.
And there were those who said the field was never intended to be a place for games. Among those was former school board member Ed Strickland, who was on the board from 2003-2011. He wrote:
“This is what I remember:
“The area we had to work with was very limited. To even get a football field where we put it we had to get some kind of permission to use park land for some of the field. I think this is on the north east side of the field. There is a problem with the east side of the field in that it is on a hill side that could have a problem supporting that side of the field.
“We also had a problem with enough parking for the school. To solve this the field was considered a practice field in the permit process. After this was done we purchased the property to the south of the Spectrum site, so this could be added for parking at a later date.
“In the building of the field, I had Robin, with the Board approval, put in conduit for lights on the field. We also were able to add the artificial surface with some money saved from other parts of the construction. We really had to do this as we were getting artificial turf at the Poulsbo facility. The community raised some of the money for the lights as they were needed for a practice field.
“If we had thought that this was going to be a field for large crowds we would have put in the infrastructure for bathrooms and handicapped access for crowds. This we did not do as we never had the idea that we would not use the Poulsbo facility for games.
The lights were a real problem and the Board really messed up in not putting them in in the first place. This brought the community together in such a way that they supported playing football games at the field. Even though you have no stands to see a game and no way for the Band to have the crowd see their marching, both the Band and football parents put up with this and play their games at this field. There is no place for handicapped or restricted seniors to see a game at this facility.
“If you look at the site, you will see lots of infrastructure for storm water. Adding the stands that this field needs for proper use will require that this problem be evaluated.
“The community needs to be involved in the process of changing this practice field to a game field for spectators. The costs are going to be large. The parking and handicapped facilities will run the project into seven digits if it is done legally. The deed for the park may also be a problem. You can share my thoughts with anyone as most of this is part of the Board record. I voted against the design plan for the school and the field as I could see that where the field was placed was not very well planned.
“Ed Strickland, NK School Board, 2003-2011″
Residents brought up issues to the county about safety of the press box, traffic, stormwater, noise and light and other issues. The chief stumbling block to those who oppose this game use is the county’s opinion that the 2004 conditional use permit “does not limit the field’s use.” The county sees game use and a press box as a minor revision. The use and the press box fall within the bounds set by the previous environmental impact statement, according to the county.
The county has no say, of course, on the wisdom of the school board committing $30,000 toward the press box.
Another argument is that few districts elsewhere have more than one football field. Indeed the Central Kitsap School District’s three high schools all consider a field next to Olympic High School as their home football field. While true, you only need to go to Bellevue to find a school district with four high schools and four football stadiums. Sure, Bellevue is different from North Kitsap. But they have their reasons. North Kitsap and Kingston have theirs.
For all who might want to go back to what the district intended when it built Kingston, that is to not have Kingston play its home games on campus, it could very well be too late for that. Strickland might be the most correct in answering why. “The lights were a real problem and the Board really messed up in not putting them in in the first place. This brought the community together in such a way that they supported playing football games at the field,” he wrote. Once the district let the Kingston boosters raise enough money to put in lights, a huge improvement for that field, there was no way to tell them “no” anymore. The community had invested too much of its own labor, lucre and love to turn it down. Had the district put in the lights from the beginning there would have been little else around which the community could rally, nothing that would have generated as much enthusiasm.
Additionally, if the district had worked even before Kingston opened to alter the stadium at North Kitsap to be a home field for two teams, the anger that led to the lights in Kingston might never have happened either. In Central Kitsap that stadium is near Olympic High School, but it’s Silverdale Stadium, not Olympic.
It’s all Monday-morning quarterbacking now.