How Ya Gonna Pay For It?

Brynn Grimley writes:

As reporters we regularly attend meetings where the local government (be it County Commissioners or City Council members) and taxpayers interact. Sometimes the taxpayers are at a meeting to speak to local government about spending and the need to only pay for what you can afford. These cautionary public testimonies have increased over the last year as we’ve watched the economy tank.

I’m not here to get into a discussion about TEA Partiers, (I’ll leave that conversation for Gardner to moderate) but I did want to expand on a story I wrote for Tuesday’s paper about the master park planning process the county just completed for its proposed Newberry Hill Heritage Park.

One of the most common statements I hear when a local jurisdiction is discussing park development is: “This all sounds great, but how are you going to pay for it?” That statement came up more than once during the master planning process of the 1,082-acre heritage park, according to county parks project coordinator Martha Droge.

And the answer is: They don’t know. The county knows there is no money right now to support new park development, and it already relies heavily on the dedication of volunteers who are willing to put a lot of hours of sweat equity into maintaining parks. Volunteers have already created a stewardship group to work on the Newberry park, and it doesn’t take a genius to realize that any work done on trails out there in the near future will likely be 100 percent volunteer driven.

But, a lack of funding shouldn’t stop the county from planning, should it? Now that the plan is drafted (County Commissioners will review it in May, and could even adopt it then too), the county knows what people want to see on the property and can plan accordingly.

“We will now spend the next several years finding the money to do this,” Droge said of the proposed uses for the park, which include trails, trail entrances and parking areas.

My guess is volunteers will continue to step up to help build trails, maintain existing trails and relocate trails that have been identified as crossing critical environmental areas. In the case of Newberry Hill’s park, it probably won’t be too costly to develop the park because the proposed uses are relatively passive. Volunteers will have to adhere to the national trail building standards, but other than that it’s not like they’re trying to build a soccer field in the middle of a forest.

So before people start questioning how the county plans to pay for this massive Central Kitsap park, realize the county already knows it doesn’t have the money and knows it won’t have the money anytime soon. Instead they will rely on park stewards who are dedicated to seeing the park’s trails maintained, and in some cases improved.

One thought on “How Ya Gonna Pay For It?

  1. “We will now spend the next several years finding the money to do this,”

    uh-huh. And in those years, I bet, they “find” the money to put even more acreage into “park” (conservancy) status.

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