SK Park One Step Closer to County Ownership

The ball is back in the parks board’s court.
The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners today gave the nod to a legal agreement with the South Kitsap Parks & Recreation District Board of Commissioners that would transfer ownership of South Kitsap Community Park to the county.
The commissioners, following an executive session, authorized the prosecuting attorney’s office to forward the settlement agreement to the parks board’s attorney, Tony Otto. The development is a major step in a roughly two-year process of haggling between the county and the parks district over the fate of the 200-acre park at the corner of Jackson Street and Lund Avenue in South Kitsap.


The proposed county takeover of the park has been under formal negotiation since last year, when the county filed a lawsuit over costs for elections it held on the parks district’s behalf. The lawsuit was the driving force behind the proposed transfer of jurisdiction, essentially forcing the parks board to enter into negotiations, said Larry Walker, chairman of the parks board.
Under the proposed agreement, the election debt would be excused, and the county has pledged $2.19 million to be invested in the park over the next six years for recreational facilities and capital improvements. In addition the three parcels of land that make up the park would be rolled into one and protected as a park in perpetuity unless put to a public vote.
South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel said county attorneys “tweaked it a bit” before approving the document, which was submitted by the parks board Dec. 21 as a counter to the county’s original offer.
Now it’s up to the four-member parks board to decide whether to finalize the deal (a fifth seat on the board is vacant and has yet to be filled). One parks board member Margie Rees has stated she is opposed to the takeover. She and other community members have been working to find a way to keep the park independent.
Walker said he anticipates the rest of the board will support the transfer, as long as “the tweaking hasn’t changed the intent.” Walker said he will reserve final judgement until he sees the revised document. Preserving the park into the future is “a sticking point for me,” Walker said.
Proponents of the takeover, including members of the group Grow the Park, point to the parks district’s ongoing fiscal woes as evidence that the park would be better off in the county’s hands. The park is not tax supported, and the parks board has historically struggled to come up with funds for maintenance and operations.
If the parks board approves the transfer, the county will hold public meetings to determine how the park should be developed, Angel said. All interested parties, including parks board members for and against the take-over, would be welcome, she said.
“I’m very hopeful this will work,” said Angel. “This could be just a gem for South Kitsap. … I hope they approve it and we’ll be off and running.”

30 thoughts on “SK Park One Step Closer to County Ownership

  1. We are one step closer toward the goal of placing South Kitsap Park in the hands of the Department of Kitsap County Parks & Recreation. It’s been a quick year but a long 28 years for SKPRD. Soon-I hope that all sides can come together and Grow the Park for South Kitsap and Kitsap County. I’m ready to take the boxing gloves off and work together to help make this park be the best that it can be. We can do this together South Kitsap!

  2. Once again, it needs to be said that a hostile takeover by the County is unnecessary. The Interlocal Agreement spells out how the County and the existing SKPRD can work together to serve the recreational needs of the community. Jan Angel has done the community a disservice by dividing rather than uniting South Kitsap. This article is wrong, as well, because the $2.1M proposed is only going to be used for artifical fields, not capital improvements. There is no mention of a recreational center in the 6 year plan. Obviously, the County only acted because they felt pressured by the positive efforts of the SKPRD and the Supporters of the Chuck F. Jeu Family Recreational Center. Keep your boxing gloves on Judi. I find you obnoxious and offensive and not the representative of SK that you believe you are.

  3. Apparently, our efforts to create a plan for a sustainable green recreational complex for the South Kitsap Community Park forced the County’s hands, I assume.

    The supporters of the Chuck F. Jeu Family Recreational Center will continue to work to see Chuck Jeu’s vision for this park so that it will include: a Boys and Girls Club with computer lab for intergenerational tutoring, indoor and outdoor theaters, walking trails, disc golf, a productive food Victory garden and a Peace Memorial Garden to accompany Charlotte Garrido’s Freedom Garden amongst other things.

    I am angry that no efforts have been made to pay attention to a little document called the Interlocal Agreement Between the South Kitsap Parks and Recreation District and Kitsap County that spells out how the County and SKPRD are by law required to work TOGETHER for the good of South Kitsap. I am angry that when Margie Rees and her fellow SKPRD member Ryan Rees asked Commissioner Angel for help with the park, she not only didn’t respond, she met with Chuck Jeu and asked his supporters to swear a secrecy pact assuring that his vision could be accomplished if the SKPRD were dissolved. She then never publicly came forward through 2005 to support his vision, instead she pledged support publicly for a smaller recreational center proposed by the First Lutheran Church. Now she talks publicly about the problems of “duplicating efforts.” I find it offensive to promise a dying man one thing and than do another. I find it offensive that it is acceptable for any county representatives to demand secrecy pacts of community members. I find it offensive that people, like Margie Rees and the Harper residents can in good faith go to their local county commissioner and have her turn their problem into a nightmare. How is this good government?

    I find it offensive that this BOC would think it was acceptable to have a hostile takeover of a 200 acre park potentially valued at $10-20M for a debt of just $13,000. I find it offensive that Commissioner Angel can load her County Park’s board nominees with KAPO and Republican Party heads who are known to be anti-tax crusaders defiantly against any environmental protections.

    I find it offensive that the latest article on the Park has Commissioner Angel discussing how she would have open meetings to discuss the uses of the Park when she knows darn well that we have been working on making Chuck’s dream come true.

    If you think that the community supports this hostile takeover because Judi Edwards has been so insistently nasty in her efforts, than think again.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if our beloved Commissioner Angel has made some ugly deal with ISC regarding this park. No one trusts that her intentions for this park are pure.

  4. From what I’ve read, I’m pretty optimistic.

    I didn’t know Chuck Jeu personally but heard him speak at a SKPRD meeting. With his cancer, it was difficult listening to him because his voice was so hoarse and labored. However, his message was crystal clear and unwavering.

    Mary and Margie have picked up where Chuck left off and are building momentum to make Chuck’s vision a reality. All sides have sufficiently demonstrated passion for the park and I, too, hope that everyone can come together.

    “We can do this together South Kitsap!”

    Yes, we can.

  5. All,

    This is a bird in the hand OR a bird in the bush decision. I hope, for the sake of South Kitsap citizens, the SKPRD makes the right decision.

    In my opinion, the option that has $2.19 million dollars in hand, stable stewardship with infastructure and resources readily available, and the responsibility to devise a solid plan is the responsible and reasoned choice. This will grow the park and create positive momentum for great things!

    The option with a paper plan, grand ideas, unstable stewardship, and no concrete funding stream is wishful thinking and status quo. Status quo hasn’t worked to grow the park.

    There is no reason why Mary’s group can’t work with the county. If their funding stream ideas come true, that will only amplify the positive impact of the $2.19 million county investment in growing the park. In fact, it would be better for all if Mary’s group did work with the county because the county has far greater depth of resources to provide proper oversight, regulatory compliance, and direction to protect and guide all citizens with visionary ideas for the park.

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  6. Politics aside, the ability to utilize the $2.19 Mil on the development of artificial turf fields is desperately needed for South Kitsap. Youth recreational sports organizations are extremely challenged to provide enough space for our youth to enjoy these sports. Graciously provided space on school properties is getting more and more competiton for utilization mainly because the larger number of youth participants. Both our city and county are growing at alarming rates and the future needs of these youth has to be addressed today. Perhaps by providing more facilities we can encourage more participation in sports instead of vandalism to existing facilities out of boredom.

    I would hope that action and resolve between interested parties be amicably worked out in the 6 year plan. I for one would hope that the needs of our youth are of paramount concern in any of these decisions.

    Regards

  7. Mike,

    While I agree with your position about providing fields and activities for our youth, I think it is important to point out that the $2.19 million has not been dedicated to only artificial turf (as was erroneously suggested by another blogger).

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  8. Kathy,
    Are you suggesting that you have “inside information” in your smug comment that I had erroneously said that the $2.19 is dedicated to artificial turf. Do you know differently?

  9. I am so angry at some of the people that write on this blog and have insulted Kathryn Simpson and my Sister, Judi Edwards. I doubt if you really know Kathryn Simpson, and for sure YOU DON”T REALLY KNOW MY SISTER, Judi Edwards. She has been behind Chuck Jeu’s vision for the park for longer than some of you have even known Chuck or have known about him. She is the one that has carried Chuck’s vision for MANY MANY years and NOT others…..
    She knew Chuck personally and respected him so much for his visions.
    She and her Husband, Ken, came home from work-related time in CA. last Spring early, driving and not getting much sleep to make it in time for Chuck’s funeral. They barely made it back, but they had to be there to honor him and Celebrate his Life.
    At Chuck’s funeral, tennis balls were given out in memory of Chuck. Judi put one in her purse and it has remained there, even tho she has changed purses and it has kept her going, knowing what Chuck wanted for the Park …a place for EVERYONE !!!
    She has been a representative for the Park longer than most people that have blogged, and I have seen all the work and PRAYERS she has said for the Park.
    She is NOT nasty, obnoxious, and offensive and I take offense at these remarks towards one of the BEST Christian people I have
    ever seen, even if she is my Sis !!
    So…,if you don’t really know someone, don’t say they are “this” or “that” until you reallllly know them.
    So, now, just let us pray that the Park at Jackson and Lund will be one of the finest parks in Kitsap County in the next few years.
    Let’s cool it, people, and settle down and concentrate on what is good for the Park for EVERYONE !!!!!!!!

  10. Mary,

    Having been very involved in the process and attended all but a few of the SKPRD meetings in the past year, there has never been discussion of intent to use all the county money for artificial turf fields at the South Kitsap Park. In fact, I don’t recall any conversation about artificial turf at the South Kitsap Park.

    Do you have concrete information that the County intends to put all the $2.19 million offered into artificial turf fields at South Kitsap Park? If so, please do share who told you what and when they said so.

    You seem to throw a lot of names around. Please tell us who told YOU that this was all about artificial turf. Then we can judge the credibility.

    You can continue your angry rampage or you can learn to dialog.

    Your insults and misinformation are bordering on libel. You use peoples good names any way you wish without regard to the damage you inflict on their reputation and honor. There is no excuse for that.

    If you are teaching people anything in these blogs – it is your true nature. It makes me sad to see someone self-destruct as you are doing.

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  11. An important piece that Mary leaves out is also a part of Chuck’s vision-and that was to turn the park over to Kitsap County. I have the letter Chuck penned in 2005 if anyone wishes to read a copy. It’s not Chuck’s vision when you leave out a major point Mary. Your’e doing a great disservice to Chuck and Tina when you don’t include the full vision. My sandals walk in peace. Where are yours headed Mary?

  12. I can relate to Kathee B.’s frustration. It’s hard to remain silent when you feel others are attacking those whom you feel are trying to do their best. That is what compels me to repeatedly defend the current SKPRD Board when accused of fraud or when blamed for all of the parks problems for the past 28 years.

    How many meetings one has attended in the past or who knew Chuck Jeu better or who has volunteered the most should neither qualify nor invalidate one’s right to form their current opinion. People on all sides have done good things for the park. Judi tried to get levies passed for the park and I commend her for that. Various incarnations of the SKPRD Board have tried to administer and run the park on a shoestring budget and I commend them for that. Mary is trying to see that Chuck’s dream becomes a reality and I commend her for that.

    However, all sides are also guilty of personal attacks (yes, I’ve gotten my personal jabs in here and there, too) and continuing to do so isn’t going to contribute to the spirit of the community.

    I hope the boxing gloves do come off, but as a sign that the fighting will end; not in order for it to escalate into a bare-knuckle brawl.

    Frequently bloggers like to post the “That’s my position, now let’s move on” classification of a post. It always annoys me because I think one should either state their position and let others state theirs OR call for an end. Doing both seems unjust.

    Anyways, that’s my position, now let’s move on.

    Kumbaya, my Lord, kumbaya.

    (everybody, join in)

    Kumbaya, my Lord, kumbaya.

    (no? anyone?)

  13. Let me see if I get this straight. A group of individuals spends months lambasting those they disagree with, dragging names through the mud, all while insinuating (and outright charging) criminal behavior. Others decry such tactics, and the aforementioned group cries “foul”? How ironic.

    I have pretty negative impressions of Grow The Park, formed after perusing past e-mails, blogs, and a USPS delivered letter. We each govern our own behavior, and accept the consequences, though some protest. These people may take umbrage to my disgust of their actions, that’s their choice; I defend the right of all to dissent.

    I am not trying to reform any individual’s behavior, I am simply stating my opinion. I do not have many flattering comments for the above named group, in my personal analysis of their conduct, I have many times found objectivity, respect for opposing views, and fairness sorely lacking. Somehow I missed all the Divine goodness while sifting through the muck.

    I don’t tell Mary what to write, she owns her words and is responsible for them. I imagine that she has had some pretty distasteful experiences of late, it is reflected in her blogs.

    Ms. Breshar—I see we have a common desire to defend those we feel have been wronged. You don’t know the SKPRD commissioners, yet that certainly hasn’t stopped you from writing accusatory statements and telling them how they must behave. Here’s a proposal: You start censoring other’s letters when they’re allowed to edit yours.

    Do I have hopes that all will end well? Absolutely. Despite best efforts to disparage one another, I’m optimistic that concern over what’s best for the SK Park and community will prevail. If and when there is a final resolution I will definitely thank the SK Parks Board for doing their responsible best, with the thoughtfulness and deliberative attention the matter dictated. I applaud how they’ve kept their dignity, even while being unjustly maligned.

    Have a nice weekend,

    Melissa Lund

  14. Wow. At this stage of negotiations a tug-of-war over who said “astroturf” seems pretty insignificant.

    “Credibility” is in the eye of the beholder, everyone sees their own and other’s differently.–Just ask the opposing sides of the Josh Brown election issue.

  15. Melissa,

    What should a citizen do when they personally observe and have knowledge of what appears to be inappropriate or illegal conduct on the part of an elected official? If the citizens try and address it with them first and get stone-walled, what should a citizen do?

    Do we just give them a free-pass to violate or act outside the law just because they are such “nice” people?

    What would you do?

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  16. Illegal activities are a police matter to investigate.
    Contact the authorities and give them your information….

    Sharon O’Hara

  17. The assumption, of course, is that they have violated or acted outside the law. Don’t we have a court system that doesn’t try people by vigilante justice?

  18. Shannon,

    That is exactly what happened. We had legitimate concerns that illegal activities were going on. We first tried to get answers from the elected officials hoping there were reasonable explanations, but nothing reasonable was forthcoming. So, we reported what we knew to local law enforcement. Citizens have a right and a responsibility to hold elected officials accountable for complying with the law.

    Mary,

    Any citizen who brings a concern forward risks their own reputation because (here is a reality check)… The system is far from perfect and even if the citizen’s concerns are legitimate, law enforcement may not prosecute or may not get a conviction (ironically, name wise, the Simpson trial comes to mind). I felt strongly enough about the validity of my concerns that I put my reputation on the line to report my concerns.

    That being said, our legal system is the system we have and the fairest system on earth, in my opinion. I respect the system, so I believe in doing my part as a citizen and let the chips fall where they may.

    What you may not understand is that I tried very hard to give the elected officials the benefit of the doubt and sought a reasonable explanation first. In fact, at first I dismissed the whole thing as a misunderstanding or overreaching frustration boiling over by a friend. But then I read the paperwork uncovered by a public records request of another agency and realized there were very serious inconsistencies between what happened at public meetings and what was officially recorded by the elected officials as to what happened at public meetings I attended. You don’t want to believe that, but that is the truth.

    Once I took my concerns to law enforcement, I allowed law enforcement to do their jobs. When asked by the media, I gave my honest opinion about the matter.

    If charges aren’t brought forward, then so be it. However, I felt it my responsibility, as a citizen, to report what I knew to be facts. I don’t really care if you like or don’t like what I did. What people would think of me had no bearing on the matter. I live by my conscience and my conscience knew it was the right thing to do.

    “Vigilante justice” would be taking the law into our own hands. Now, if you have evidence that we have acted outside the law and taken authority we don’t have as citizens, I encourage you to report that to local law enforcement. :=)

    I am not one to make a statement without facts to back it up. My facts, regarding the concerns were legitimate and valid. Just as you insist that laws aren’t being complied with in regard to the “Interlocal agreement”, I insist that laws aren’t being complied with in regard to public records.

    Citizenship isn’t always as easy as baseball, Apple Pie, and Chevrolet. It is about hard choices sometimes in bringing concerns forward in the appropriate venue and allowing the law to prevail so that there is justice and fairness for all.

    Are you suggesting that citizens shouldn’t report information about suspected criminal activity or impropriety by elected officials?

    Duke Cunningham and Mark Foley were disgraced and eliminated from their elected positions because citizens were brave enough to report what they knew to be wrong.

    You act as if I was jubilent about it. Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Melissa,

    “Artificial turf” came out of left field (pun intended) and I just felt the need to set the record straight. ;=)

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  19. Melissa,

    My humble apologies for mischaracterizing your view of elected officials. What was I thinkin’?!?! (smile)

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  20. Mark,

    Something I forgot to respond to earlier (my apologies for the oversight)…

    I certainly don’t blame the current parks board members for all the ills of 28 years. I hold them accountable only for the decisions they are making during their own tenures.

    They know the history of the park, the financial challenges, the continuity of leadership challenges, and the positive potential of the park for our community. Many would agree that the park has been dealt a very difficult hand over the years. Whether the cards have been of the making of previous commissioners or just bad luck, can be debated ad-nausea.

    The current SKPRD board has had a proposal (backed up by a proposed funding stream) before them since April of 2006 (in fact, it will be a year this week) that has the potential to grow the park in exceptionally beneficial ways for our community. It took the SKPRD nearly six months to even respond to the proposal. It took them until late in December of 2006 to engage a counter-proposal.

    Now that the counter-counter-proposal is back in their court, the current parks board is now at a monumental crossroads for the good of the park.

    They can:

    — Reject the County’s counter-proposal and go further into debt in the November elections with no alternative park funding stream in sight in the hopes that a funding stream with eventually arise.

    OR

    — Accept the County’s counter-proposal and allow the park to grow with a responsible funding stream and a future with continuity of leadership and infrastructure that will afford the property to be maintained and grow the park in ways that, for whatever reasons, have not been possible in the past 28 years.

    At this juncture, it is completely in the power of the current parks board members to do what is best for the citizens of South Kitsap. It is my earnest hope that they will make the right choice. The citizens of South Kitsap will hold at least four positions accountable for that decision in the November elections, if the SKPRD have not dissolved by then. Please don’t infer a threat in that statement. It is simply the reality of elected office.

    By the way, just because I strongly disagree with the public records practices of the current board and I hold them accountable for their current compliance or non-compliance does not mean that I am blind to the impediments that have been put in their way to grow the park. I’m just completely confused by their unwillingness to engage this proposal on it’s merits, from the beginning. I would have thought that the SKPRD would want to look at any proposal that comes forward with the single question, “What is in the best interest of the citizens of South Kitsap in regard to this park”. Yet, from the beginning, they have demonstrated open contempt for the proposal and for members of the public who are proponents of dissolution.

    In closing, on a positive note… South Kitsap should be grateful that this beautiful gem of 200 acres has been preserved in the center of our community for parks and recreation use. For that, we owe all current and former parks board members a deep debt of appreciation!

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  21. Following up on my public records request of February 22nd…

    It has now been 44 days and I haven’t yet been provided opportunity to inspect any of the records requested. The Attorney General’s Office says records should be made available within 5 days. For some reason the SKPRD said they needed 30 days to compile them. I waited the 30 days. In fact, now I’ve even waited two weeks longer than that.

    It would be nice if the SKPRD President would simply respond to my request to setup a meeting or explain why I can’t have access to the records.

    This is completely contrary to Washington State law.

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  22. Kathy is expressing her ignorance of the Interlocal Agreement Between Kitsap County and the South Kitsap Parks and Recreation District that spells out how the two municipal corporations are by law required to work together. I am mentioning this to emphasize that blaming SKPRD for any perceived mismanagement of the park is wrong, since any of the County Commissioners (including SK Commissioner Angel) could have stepped up at any time and offered to aid SKPRD. Even an offer of help getting grants or the offer of a professional planner would have been welcome. However, when members of SKPRD went to the County they were denied help. Instead the SK County Commissioner made it a goal to “take” the park, forcibly, as opposed to approaching the park and asking to work together. I know, because I was asked to swear a plan to secrecy.

    That is completely contrary to Washington State Law, as well.

    As far as the record requests go, I can just assume that the SKPRD chairman is tired of being harassed.

  23. Mary,

    Asking an elected official to comply with the open public records law is considered harassment!?!?!

    This is what the law says about the intent of the open public records act:

    RCW 42.56.030
    “The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created…”

    Please cite for me what the Interlocal Agreement has to say about the Open Public Records Act that I am ignorant about??

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  24. Just to follow-up. Tonight I finally get to review the public records I requested to see on February 22, 2007.

    Yeah!

    Regards,
    Kathryn

  25. Yes, but she refuses to explain why she needs to see these records. Is it because she plans to file yet another false charge?

  26. Openness and transparency are good things but I doubt the intent was for it to be abused for the sole purpose of trying to undermine the work of elected officials. The gleefulness at getting a new batch of records to sift through just reinforces the negative perception that I have for GrowThePark.

    No matter; Maybe the next fishing trip, I mean public records request, will find an “i” that is improperly dotted or a “t” that someone didn’t cross appropriately and the GrowThePark gang will find some new way to try to tarnish the reputation of the good citizens who volunteer for the community.

    Yeah!

  27. Mark,

    Please tell me how my public records request was abusive?

    I really want to know.

    I’d also like to know how you would go about making sure that what is being said (or not said) at a public meeting is consistent with the correspondence and other activities of that public entity?

    For most research I normally do, I can find the information I need via internet inquiry. However, the SKPRD’s internet presence is minimal at best.

    If you have a better way than making a public records request and reading the material, I’m all ears.

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

  28. Below is a summary of my perceptions of the meeting we had Tuesday evening, at Staples, where we reviewed the records that were made available…

    First, the financial records of bills paid were in extremely good order. Apparently there was a misunderstanding that I also wanted to see the income records too, so we agreed to allow me to view them at a later date and I’ll supplement my request.

    The SKPRD had my request for 45 days. Yet, they admitted that there were records that I requested that they failed to bring to the meeting. That was frustrating, but we discussed it and I think we worked out a solution.

    Amongst the missing records was correspondence between the SKPRD and the WGEP (their insurance carrier). At first I was told there weren’t any records. Then, when I reminded them that we had copies of some of the correspondence, they said that they didn’t need to provide them because we’d obtained them from the WGEP. I then explained that we only received some of the correspondence between them and the WGEP and we wanted to compare the records we received from the WGEP with the records of the SKPRD. I was then told that they would arrange to have the folder of that correspondence made available to me.

    I was also told at the meeting that the SKPRD hadn’t always kept copies of their public records. Mr. Walker said that he electronically “flushed” some of the emails and other correspondence of the SKPRD over the years. He said that he didn’t even think about keeping these records until I asked for a copy of a record a few months ago. He said he’s been keeping them ever since then.

    Mr. Walker also acknowledged that the SKPRD has been remiss in filing annual financial reports or formulating operating budgets for the past few years. He promised to correct that in the future.

    All in all, aside from the disturbance by an unexpected individual, early on, it was a mature and respectful dialog. We didn’t always agree and we didn’t always disagree. I expressed concern that some of the records hadn’t been forthcoming and Mr. Walker and Ms. Rees made a commitment to follow-up and work to make these available before the end of April (since we have conflicting schedules for the next week or so).

    To their credit, Mr. Walker and Ms. Rees were extremely respectful and patient during the 45 minute (or so) process. They answered our questions and Mr. Walker took a few notes to be sure that he followed up on what was missing.

    It certainly wasn’t “comfortable” for any of us. However, I appreciate that it was one of the more civil and polite interactions I’ve experienced with members of the SKPRD to date.

    Regards,
    Kathryn Simpson

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