Category Archives: South Kitsap Parks

A Turf Field for the Wolves in This Economy?

By Chris Henry
Heading into playoff season with a 9-0 record, the South Kitsap Wolves football team would seem to have nothing standing in their way. But Coach D.J. Sigurdson says the grass field at Joe Knowles Stadium, looking these days like a mud bath, is selling the players and other South Kitsap athletes short.
South Kitsap is one of fewer than a dozen 4A schools in the state that hasn’t already converted to turf fields. Sigurdson says it’s time.
Coaches raised concerns about shortcomings of the field and other district athletic facilities during recent contract negotiations, said Ron Ness, president of the South Kitsap Coaches Association.
“Safety is an issue and making sure we can provide adequate resources for our athletes and the community,” said Ness.
With cuts to South Kitsap School District’s budget this year totaling $6.8 million, no one who uses the fields expects the district will ask voters to approve a capital facilities bond in the near future. So a facilities task force, made up of coaches, maintenance staff and community members, has taken matters into its own hands. They are seeking outside funding for a turf field and more.
At a meeting Monday, the group came up with a lengthy wish list, including upgrades to tracks and ball fields at the junior high and elementary schools, improvements and renovations to the pool, installed in the 1970s, scoreboards, lighting, public restrooms and storage.
The group agreed that district facilities should be made available for community use whenever possible.
Installation of a turf field at the high school would cost an estimated $1.7 million. The turf would need to be replaced in 10 to 12 years, but with infrastructure in place, the replacement cost would be about half the original price, said Brad Martin of Martin Victory Products of Kent, a turf manufacturer’s representative.
The high cost of installing a turf field would be offset in the long run by lower maintenance costs, said Kathleen Simpson of Fields Today, Fit Tomorrow. Her nonprofit group is coordinating with area sports clubs, local governments and other groups on the installation of turf fields throughout the county.
The annual maintenance cost on the grass field at the high school is $23,000. A turf field costs about $5,000 per year to maintain.
Turf fields present revenue opportunities, Simpson said. Her low-use estimate for one field would be about $57,000 in income for the district per year.
Fields Today, Fit Tomorrow had a hand in the recently opened fields at Battle Point Park on Bainbridge Island. The Bainbridge fields were built despite opposition from a group called Plastic Fields ForNever whose members link artificial turf to lead poisoning, cancer, skin burns and injuries.
Sigurdson said he hadn’t heard of environmental or disease hazards of turf fields. Injuries were a problem in the early days of the technology, but substrate, made of ground up tires, provides a more natural playing surface, he said.

The facilities task force will meet monthly. The public is welcome. The next meeting is 6 p.m. Dec. 7. For information, contact South Kitsap High School Athletic Director Ed Santos at (360) 874-5736 or

Take the poll on the blog homepage: Does South Kitsap need a turf field?

A Bird’s Eye View of South Kitsap’s Newest State Park

Today, I’m writing about Camp Calvinwood, a 118-acre park run by the Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission, that is now open to the public on a limited basis. According to camp hosts, quite a few people have already found this secluded jewel off Lake Flora Road. Folks walking their dogs and people fishing for trout and bass are the most frequent visitors. The reason it’s secluded is that, at least for the foreseeable future, you have to walk in 1/2 mile from Lake Flora Road. The payoff is, except for park hosts James and Nancy Parks, visitors typically have the place to themselves.

The gate will be open Saturday for an open house from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to introduce the public to the park.

Here’s a bird’s eye view. Ain’t Google Maps great?

View Larger Map

Party Time in South Kitsap

South Kitsap Schools Supporters, school district officials and community members gathered at The Clubhouse at McCormick Woods to await levy results. The before and after pictures below pretty much reflect reaction of the crowd of 150 + to the news that the levy passed with 56.7 percent voter approval in preliminary results Tuesday. Never mind that the measure would have failed had Washington voters not approved a simple majority for school levies in 2007 to replace the 60 “supermajority” previously required. Shawn Cucciardi, chairman of the School Supporters, said the handy margin represents a “cuture shift” in South Kitsap, which experienced multiple levy failures in the 1990s and failed to pass a bond in 2007. This is the first time since records began to be kept in 1973 that SKSD has had 12 years of stable levy funding (will be 12 years as of 2013).

The event, featuring music by the local rock ‘n roll band The Spenders, was not paid for on the taxpayers’ nickel, Cucciardi said. Community members pooled money to cover light hors d’oeuvres. Cucciardi donated the space. There was a no-host bar. And the band played for free … they weren’t bad either.

BEFORE (District representative Aimee Warthen and school board member Patty Henderson)

SKSD Levy Results Before
SKSD Levy Results Before

AFTER (Patty Henderson and Aimee Warthen. In Background board member Keith Garton and supporter Retha Civilla
SKSD Levy Results After
SKSD Levy Results After

South Kitsap Parks Grant Jeopardized by State Budget Deficit

I got an e-mail today from the county with an update on South Kitsap Regional Park. A park master plan was developed last year with input from the community and approved by the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners in November. The county has been screening vendors of playground equipment (high on the list of improvements to be made) and will soon begin a survey (the kind on the ground not on paper or online) of the park. But the e-mail gives a cautionary heads up that $500,000 in state recreation grants could be in jeopardy due to the state’s nearly $6 billion budget deficit.
Martha Droge, parks projects coordinator, said she and other parks staff are confident SK Park will eventually come into the money. Their grant application is rated fourth among more than 70 applications for the funds. But when and how much funding is appropriated is yet to be decided. I’ve got a few calls and e-mails out to people who may be able to give more information on the prognosis for the SK Park grant and for parks funding in general. Stay tuned.

Here’s what the county wrote:
Speaking of funding, we are anxiously waiting to hear about park grants funded by the legislature, including the $500K grant for this park from the state Recreation and Conservation Organization (RCO). Due to the state’s economic situation, the grant funding cycle is contingent upon legislative budget decisions that have yet to be made. Because the park scored very high — #4 out of 70+ — we are confident that it will be funded at some point even if delayed.

Making Parks Grants “Sexy”

Kitsap County owns nearly 6,000 acres of park land, much of it undeveloped. And citizens of a growing Kitsap are clamoring for more recreational opportunities, even as economic uncertainty has slapped the county’s parks and recreation budget with the dubious “discretionary funding” label.
Parks and recreation staff have had to find creative ways to advance capital projects on the public’s (and county’s) wish list. By the end of the summer they will have applied for more than $3.5 million in grant funding from the state’s Recreation and Conservation Office. By September, they will know where they stand in relation to the hundreds of other jurisdictions competing for state recreation dollars. By March, 2009 — if all goes well — at least some of those dollars will start flowing in.
Applying for grants is nothing new, but this time around, parks and rec staff have done everything they can to ensure that the applications they submit have the fiscal equivalent of sex appeal.
“The term this time was, ‘How sexy will this grant be?” said parks and rec director Chip Faver.
The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners will vote tonight on resolutions in support of the department’s grant strategy.
Here’s a list of the grants (note: The West Peninsula Trails plan involves two grants, one for off-road vehicles, the other for equestrian and hiking trails. This document, sent by the parks department, contains a typo indicating both applications are for off-road vehicles. Presumably the grant applications themselves will be edited for such errors.)

Blogger Objects to “Special Interest” Label

Speaking of South Kitsap blog contributor Karen Lee was unhappy with my use of “special interest” in reference to South Kitsap Skate Park Association and Fields Today Fit Tomorrow in a blog post last week on the South Kitsap Community Park master plan.

Karen wrote:
Chris, I’m not sure it was fair of you to call a group that wants to bring badly-needed, long overdue and much-deserved lights and turf to South Kitsap “special interest”. What club do you belong to, do you think it’s time to state that affiliation, as you did your residency in McCormick Woods when you were writing those stories?

I don’t have an opinion one way or another, I just think there is a socio-economic element to the lack of a lit soccer fields in South Kitsap. Games start the week after Labor Day and it’s too dark to practice the middle of October, unless your coach doesn’t have a day job. Those players whose parents don’t have the discretionary income, time, or energy to make 40-mile roundtrips for practice, not to mention games, are out of luck. You can’t ever be a contender if you can’t practice and it forces the best and the brightest to play for or in another community. How are things going to improve for the sport and the players and the families who love it, if the people that have a voice and power take their game out of town? I think if their weren’t options for them, we would have had lights and turf a long time ago.

Just some thoughts. Hope you’re having a great day. Karen Lee

Karen – Thanks for calling my attention to a term that could be considered loaded. Words are like guns; it’s unwise to play with them heedless of their power and potential to go off at an unintended target.

However, what I wrote was, “Some groups with special interest in the park, such South Kitsap Skate Park Association and Fields Today, Fit Tomorrow, have caught the county’s attention through high levels of organization, said Chip Faver, the Kitsap County Parks and Recretion. But the county is also trying to reach out to people, especially seniors, who would enjoy using the park but may not be able to attend meetings.”

I think this is a little different from saying “some special interest groups. such as …”

My point was those two groups in particular are reaping the benefits of their efforts to promote their causes.

For the record, I enjoy tennis (though haven’t played in a while due to a flaky knee). Walking is really my thing (bad knee be damned), and I have enjoyed the trails at SK Park over the years. My son is a soccer player who would potentially benefit from the construction of a soccer complex at the park. My father-in-law from Brinnon is a horseshoe player and could conceivably end up at the park for a tournament or fun. What else … lets see. Oh, yeah, when my kids were little we used to ride the train (Kitsap Live Steamers). So I guess you could say I have a number of special interests of my own.

All kidding aside, I do strive for fair and balanced reporting, and if I transgress I would expect to be called out. Thanks again for the heads up, Karen.

Speak Up on SK Park

The scene Wednesday at Kitsap County’s first public meeting on the South Kitsap Community Park master plan looked more like a poker game than a public process. Participants were invited to place chips representing features and amenities, current and potential, on a map of the park.

As mentioned in the Kitsap Sun, the meeting was one of three interactive events that will take place between now and December, when the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners will vote on the plan that will guide the future of the beloved park through the next decade and maybe beyond. The next meeting is July 16.

Some groups with special interest in the park, such South Kitsap Skate Park Association and Fields Today, Fit Tomorrow, have caught the county’s attention through high levels of organization, said Chip Faver, the Kitsap County Parks and Recretion. But the county is also trying to reach out to people, especially seniors, who would enjoy using the park but may not be able to attend meetings.

Ultimately, said Faver, the county must balance the many, sometimes competing interests of those who would use the park.
“It’s government’s responsibility to speak for those who can’t speak up,” said Faver. “But in all instances, it’s government’s responsibility to speak up for those who will.”

Faver obviously wants to whip up enthusiasm for the planning process. Shouting like a preacher in a pulpit or a coach before the big game, he got the 200+ folks in attendance to “repeat after me,” “I’m in … I’m in it for the long haul … and I’m going to make that happen!” Faver even offered a bounty of $10,000 for every new participant brought to the next meeting. (He was “just joking.” What a card.)

For more information or to comment on the park master plan, visit (, call toll free (877) 292-6412, or write Kitsap County Parks and Recreation, 1200 NW Fairgrounds Road, Bremerton, WA 98311.

Having Your Say in SK Park’s Future

Kitsap County will kick off designing a master plan for South Kitsap Community Park from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday at the county’s administrative building.
The beloved and already well-used park was acquired by the county from South Kitsap Parks and Recreation District a year ago. The plan will be completed by December.
Careful planning now will ensure that Kitsap residents get the greatest benefit from the 200-acre park, said Martha Droge, the county’s newly hired parks project coordinator.
While the county has already solicited opinions from groups and individuals interested in using the park, creating the master plan will be a more comprehensive process that will take some time, said Droge.
“This is very different from people sitting in a room saying, ‘I’d like this. I’d like that,'” she said. “This is just the beginning of the brainstorming.”
The plan will be drawn up with an eye to the social and recreational needs of community members, but not at the expense of the ecological health of the park, Droge said.

Here’s the schedule of workshops for the master plan process:
Wednesday: 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Kitsap County administrative building; meet the master planning team, brainstorm ideas for the park and help set goals.
July 16: time and place TBA; the public will be invited to express preferences for options presented by the team.
Sept. 17: time and place TBA; the team will present refined options for further review.
Fall: date and place TBA; the team will present the final plan; public comment will be taken.
To comment outside the workshops, visit the park Web site, e-mail or call (877) 292-6412.

Off-Leash Areas: Howe Farm Ready for Action, SK Park a Possibility

Dogs owners have been out in force taking advantage of newly renovated off-leash areas at Howe Farm County Park.

Danny Horovitz of Kitsap Dog Parks Inc. said completion of the project, along with an expanded parking lot and single-stall rest room, is cause to celebrate.

“We’re real excited to have it open,” said Horovitz. “A lot of people want this. A lot of people are using it.”

A ribbon-cutting is planned for 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Kitsap Dog Parks and South Kitsap School District are negotiating with the county on an agreement that would allow both entities to play a role in Howe Farm’s use. The school district, with WSU Kitsap County Cooperative Extension, would like to use part of the land for agricultural and vocational classes. Dogs Parks Inc. would like to develop trails for dog owners.

Horovitz said his organization and the district are ready and willing to cooperate.
“There’s excitement for both groups to be working together,” he said.

While the news at Howe Farm is upbeat, some dog owners have complained to the county about stepped up enforcement of leash laws at South Kitsap Community Park, according to Dori Leckner, senior parks maintenance supervisor.

The county took over the park this summer, and dog owners who have been used to letting their dogs run free are finding posted leash laws enforced by county personnel. Signs at the park notify them of the availability of Howe Farm and Bandix Dog Park, also in South Kitsap.

South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel said the idea of having an off-leash area at SK Park is “not off the table.” Nearly a dozen special interest groups representing various sports and recreational pursuits are working with the county on future development of the park.

Anyone interested in having an off-leash area at SK Park should contact Arvilla Ohlde at (360) 337-5361.

If you are a dog owner, what are your thoughts on off-leash opportunities in Kitsap County?

SK Park: Public Begins Planning for Park’s Future

More than 100 people attended the first of five public meetings on South Kitsap Community Park’s future, and their enthusiasm was palpable.

The park was turned over to the county in June, and South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel, with county Parks & Recreation staff, has started a public process to determine what people want to see at the park.


Some of the things folks mentioned were skateboarding, more ball fields, soccer fields, walking trails for senior citizens (and others), a BMX bike track and a family recreation center. Karcher Creek Sewer/Annapolis Water District would like to partner with the county for an environmental learning center at the park.

Current tenants, including the Kitsap County Horseshoe group, Kitsap Live Steamers miniature railroad and the paintball course, will be allowed to stay at the park at least through the duration of their lease.

Anyone who’s interested is invited to serve on one or more of the various interest groups now forming to provide direction to county staff. You can also give input on what you’d like to see at the park by e-mailing

The meeting was so upbeat it was hard to remember that a year ago the county and the South Kitsap Parks and Recreation District were locked in testy negotiations over the county’s proposed take-over of the park. I’m not going to dredge up old history here. You can read it, if you care to, in other entries under SK Parks. Yes, it appears the beloved park has entered a new era. Parks and Recreation head Chip Faver commented on this, giving kudos to the hundreds of volunteers who have kept the park going lo these nearly 30 years without a steady stream of public funding.
“They gave us a spring board into an endless sea of possibilities,” Faver said.