SK Parks: Curiouser and Curiouser

A new wrinkle in the ongoing South Kitsap Community Park saga may further delay negotiations between Kitsap County commissioners and the South Kitsap Parks and Recreation District about a proposed county takeover of the park, said a county official Feb. 22, following a parks district business meeting.
The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Department is investigating a report of “insurance fraud” filed Feb. 13 and naming as the victim Washington Government Entity Pool, which insures the parks district.


The WGEP settled a claim with the district Nov. 2 for a fire which took place at the park Aug. 8, issuing a check for just over $31,000. The fire is being investigated as a possible arson. The district used a portion of the money to pay $20,000 on an election debt it owes the county.
Community members Kathryn Simpson and Judi Edwards have publicly alleged that parks commissioners inflated the value of items lost in the fire.
WGEP officials could not be reached for comment.
County commissioners are likely to wait until the investigation is complete before proceding on approval of a detailed proposal for the park takeover, said Donald Martin, a member of the Kitsap County Parks & Recreation advisory board, who attended the meeting.

One of the conditions of the proposal is the excusal of the election debt, but parks district officals are considering the offer of a no-interest loan from Leon Rees, husband of treasurer Margie Rees, which would allow them pay off the debt altogether.
Therein lies another wrinkle, said Martin, because if the county does take over the park (along with all its legal liabilities) it will then owe Leon Rees the amount of the loan (He’s offered up to $13,000.).
“So the county comes in there, it’s their money in the first place; they’re going to have to pay it back,” said Martin, who added he will advise the county to reject the proposed takeover if the parks board accepts Rees’ loan.
In the meantime, the parks district is researching the legal ramifications of accepting the loan. Commissioners discussed the issue at the meeting, which was not open for public comment. Public comment will be taken at the March 8 administrative meeting.
Absent from the Feb. 22 meeting was former commissioner Steve Horn, who resigned his position on the board Feb. 19, citing “circumstances beyond my control.”
Horn offered “no comment” to inquiries from the Kitsap Sun for elaboration.

3 thoughts on “SK Parks: Curiouser and Curiouser

  1. I don’t find the fact that Kathy Simpson and Judi Edwards are alleging insurance fraud against the board members to be the least bit surprising. Their acrimonious attacks on the SK Parks board is standard operating procedure, with the POI dutifully regurgitating whatever baseless claim they can drum up.

    What I do find curious are two of Martin’s statement: “So the county comes in there, it’s their money in the first place; they’re going to have to pay it back,” and that he would “advise the county to reject the proposed takeover if the parks board accepts Rees’ loan”.

    For the sake of argument, if the debt equals the $13K loan and the loan is earmarked to only pay of the county debt, doesn’t this work out the same on paper either way? Here’s how my simpleton brain calculates it:

    Scenario #1:
    -$13K debt on the county books; county takes park; county takes -$13K bath.

    Scenario #2:
    -#13K debt on the county books; +$13K from Rees to Park; +$13K from Park to county; county takes park; +$13k from county to Rees; county takes the same -$13K bath.

    Bob, I’m sure your number-crunching skills can point out the flaw in my simplistic logic.

    The second comment seems to give the SKPRD Board an easy option to shoo the county away if they so choose (and if such a loan is deemed to be legal). There was a time when I thought getting the county off their back might be helpful but the park needs a sustainable revenue stream to survive so I’m surprised Martin would make this statement while the SKPRD Board could still act on it.

  2. Funny how asking the SKPRD to be accountable to the public is considered by some to be “acrimonious”. When I was asked to get involved, I stepped up because I thought Kitsap County’s offer was a complete win-win for the community and a sign of hope for this beautiful property and South Kitsap families.

    It has been difficult to maintain a positive relationship with a board that considers public questions to be a challenge to their authority. You blame us. You are entitled to your opinion. My opinion is that the SKPRD has been antagonistic and outright rude to the public when the public has legitimate questions and concerns.

    As an example, last summer we had several hundred signatures on a petition to present to the SKPRD, encouraging them to dissolve and turn stewardship over to the county. We were told, at an SKPRD meeting, by a board member, “Those signatures aren’t worth the paper they are printed on”.

    Another example happened just this week. The SKPRD’s chair showed a complete lack of respect for fellow board members who disagreed with him. At Thursday’s SKPRD meeting one board member, the chair, wouldn’t even allow a fellow board member to finish his sentence, during a discussion, when the fellow board member asked a question about the legal process for appointing a new member. The chair was rude and condescending to this board member. He didn’t like what the other was saying, so he showed obvious verbal gestures of contempt for the other board member and said, “I’m just not going to put up with this tonight”, completely shutting down the other board member’s opportunity for input.

    The SKPRD continuously bemoans their “no revenue” fate, and yet they have had at least two opportunities in recent years to work with partnerships and chose not to engage either the Rotary’s Centennial Proposal or the private business proposal that would have funded a small recreation facility in the park and generated a stable revenue stream.

    Ignoring and failing to engage this offer from Kitsap County was yet another example of fundamental leadership problems. There has been little, if any, pursuit of a solid funding stream even when it comes knocking at their door.

    The public has overwhelmingly said that they want the SKPRD to dissolve and allow Kitsap County to accept stewardship. This could have been wrapped up 10 months ago. Who has been responsible for the delays? Quite frankly, it was the SKPRD for 8 months and then they bemoan Kitsap County for taking all of 40 days to do their required due diligence?!?!?

    Who has been acrimonious? I firmly believe that most would consider the arrogance of the SKPRD to be the root of the acrimony.

    By the way, Mark, how many parks board meetings have you attended in the past year? Do you witness our “acrimony” or are you just depending on the perceptions of those who don’t like being asked to be accountable to the public? I’ve worked within the system and worked very hard to be factual and respectful of the laws governing public government. It wasn’t until the SKPRD lied about what did (or rather, did not) occur in a public meeting that I made an accusation of impropriety. Until then it was a difference of opinion about vision, direction, and leadership for the park. However, the SKPRD stepped over the bounds of propriety and difference of opinion when it lied, in their insurance claim paperwork, about what it told the public in a public meeting. I was there and I stand by the facts.

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  3. Why not ask Bremerton’s mayor and city movers and shakers to take over? They’ve made a great team so far…

    They would do the right thing for the entire area…and would not base their actions on their political party affiliation.

    Sharon O’Hara

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