Category Archives: Parks and Recreation

Speaking of BMX bikes …

Earlier this week, we ran a story about a state grant Kitsap County Parks and Recreation hopes to get for some of the work on a planned state-of-the art outdoor skateboard facility at South Kitsap Regional Park.

Formal plans call for a BMX bike track adjacent but not connected to the skatepark. But informally, BMX riders have for decades been enjoying their sport on a warren of trails with do-it-yourself jumps in the wooded part of the 200-acre park.

According to 32-year-old Chris Marin of Port Orchard, default spokesman for the loosely affiliated BXM community in South Kitsap, the group is self-policing. Older riders and parents step in to dismantle jumps that show just a little too much industry. The unspoken rule is that jumps must be passable for younger riders and others who may not wish to defy gravity.

A circular race track built in the early 1980s was removed some years ago.

The course is well-used, Marin said. On any given weekday, 30 to 50 riders trickle through. On weekends, 60 to 80 riders is typical, he estimates. Most are teenage guys, but some are older. Marin said he’d like to see more girls out there riding the jumps.

The county checks in on the property periodically, with an eye to its own “risk management.” In March, Marin got a call about a water heater being used to support one of the features. According to Parks and Recreation Director Jim Dunwiddie, some of the jumps were getting “close to 10 feet tall.”

“There was some concern there would be major injuries if the jump building continues,” Dunwiddie said.

The county is holding back for now on harsh enforcement. They gave the riders time to remedy the situation.

Marin orchestrated removal of the water heater, and a couple of weeks ago, when Dunwiddie went out with the official who evaluates the county’s liability, the offending jumps had been removed or lowered. Dunwiddie passed out his business cards to a few riders who were there and invited them to spread the word that he’s looking for others, beside Marin, who might take on more formal stewardship of the area. As of Monday, he had not heard from anyone.

Marin said publicity over the water heater helped, in that a few parents and other adults have stepped up offering to help keep the track safe and clean. As for plans for a more formal track closer to the road, Marin said, more or less, if it’s not broken, don’t fix it. Unlike the South Kitsap Skatepark Association, which has raised more than $100,000 toward a public skatepark, BMX’ers can operate on a shoestring, Marin said. He believes BMX’ers would be perfectly content to continue as they have for an estimated four decades.

“We don’t want anything. All we need is space, and we can do the work ourselves,” Marin said. “If we could stay where we are, we could be there for the next 40 years.”

Marin would like to see the county give permission for the race track to be rebuilt. Those who installed it even ran water and power out to the area, so he believes it could be done for minimal expense.

Anyone with an interest in the BMX track at South Kitsap Regional park can call Dunwiddie at (360) 337-5350 or volunteer/stewardship coordinator Lori Raymaker at (360) 337-5372 or parks superintendent Dori Leckner at (360) 337-5362.

Bainbridge resident who established Birkenfeld trust was a “frugal” teacher

Today I wrote about the South Kitsap Skatepark Association receiving $75,000 for its planned facility at South Kitsap Regional Park. The grant came from the C. Keith Birkenfeld Memorial Trust managed by The Seattle Foundation.

Birkenfeld is frequently mentioned in the Kitsap Sun. A Bremerton High School graduate, Birkenfeld was a teacher and later administrator in the Bellevue School District. He lived on Bainbridge Island most of his life and was active in community organizations.

His will provided $14 million to establish a trust that would inspire other donations. To date the trust has distributed $3.9 million in funds, mostly to organizations benefiting Kitsap County residents. According to spokeswoman Claire Bishop, Birkenfeld, a single man, was frugal and invested his money with care, and so amassed a substantial nest egg in his 66 years.

Besides the skatepark association, other recipients of major awards in 2011 are:

Bainbridge Land Trust, a $250,000 grant toward the purchase of Hilltop, a 31-acre parcel connecting two sections of the 541-acre Grand Forest on Bainbridge Island;

Seabeck Christian Conference Center, a $150,000 contribution to the Seabeck Centennial Campaign to re-build guest houses and to install an outdoor amphitheater;

Hope in Christ/Coffee Oasis, a $125,000 grant to purchase and convert a building into a teen shelter in Bremerton;

SK Skatepark Association, a $75,000 grant to cap off fundraising for a world-class skate park in Port Orchard;

Other Kitsap County projects will receive pre-development funding to assist with planning new large projects with Kitsap County-wide impact. Another $33,000 set-aside from the trust each year finances the Humanitarian of the Year Award, administered by the Bainbridge Community Foundation.

Extreme shrimping

Thus endeth another shrimping season on Hood Canal. And what a season it was. Shrimpers had wind, rain, hail, sun, plenty of big, juicy spot shrimp, and a bonus day courtesy of the demigods at the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife.

And the extreme shrimper award of the year goes to… Jerome Tramill of Vaughn, who lives by the creed, “The heck with fingers … save the pots.”

Unlike the opening day of shrimping, yesterday, the last day of the spot shrimp season, was mild and gorgeous. This according to editor David Nelson, who took the day off to go shrimping (he works Saturday). David got his limit and has promised us a free lunch tomorrow – yes there is such a thing. Please be gumbo, please be gumbo.

The opening day of shrimping season was, weather-wise, a whole ‘nother kettle of fish. Tramill and his wife Alma are seasoned shrimpers not apt to let a little wind and rain stop them. But that first Saturday in May was, in Tramill’s words, “a pretty tough day on the water. The wind kicked up. We decided to pull up and get the heck out of there.”

Tramill started the motor on his electric pot puller, and the machinery cranked against the drift and the tide. The boat was pitching around, and Tramill found himself off balance. Then “in the blink of an eye” he found his hand tangled in the line, the puller grinding on. He shut the motor down and had to cut the line to free his mangled fingers. From the angle of his little finger, he was pretty sure it was broken. “It turned out to be worse than broken,” said Tramill, who ended up losing half of his pinkie in the accident.

His other digits weren’t in such good shape either. Blood gushed from his hand, dripping on the deck. Holding the severed line with his uninjured left hand, he wrapped the right with a T-shirt. Then he considered the pot.

It wasn’t just about the shrimp, but the darn thing cost a pretty penny. “I decided, rather than throw 100 bucks away, I’d pull it in. That was a killer,” Tramill said.

I personally can attest how tough it is to pull pots by hand, even with two good hands. My experience includes all of 15 minutes, helping haul pots while on assignment for the story, “Shrimp Abundant on Hood Canal This Year.” I had to lean my whole body into each tug, and even wearing gloves, my palms and fingers stung when I and my kind host, the owner of the gear, wrestled the pot over the side of the boat.

Tramill tugged and hauled and grunted with the effort for what seemed like an eternity, his wife — by his description — keeping up an increasingly shrill volley of expletives. When at last he hoisted the pot into the boat, it had all of about 15 shrimp inside. Tramill speculates most of the little buggers probably escaped because his injury prevented him from hauling the pot in smoothly.

He eyed the line to the second pot, but pain and his wife’s common sense prevailed. With Alma at the wheel, they headed against the wind, toward shore. Tramill credits his wife with navigating the boat through some of the nastiest chop he’s ever seen. It took them about an hour to reach the boat launch at Twanoh State Park, where they were met by EMTs from Mason County Fire District, station 2.

“When they pulled into the dock, there was a good amount of blood in the entire boat,” said firefighter EMT Brian Johnson, who noted the extreme weather. “It was rough out there. It was gangbusters,” he said.

Tramill, on the other hand, was remarkably calm. “He was in really good spirits and more concerned about his shrimp than anything else,” Johnson said.

A buddy showed up to take care of Tramill’s boat and equipment. According to Johnson, Tramill, as he was being loaded into the ambulance, exhorted the buddy to “get those things on ice.”

Kitsap Harbor Festival promises fun on both sides of Sinclair Inlet

Proving that we really can all get along, the Port of Bremerton, city of Port Orchard and city of Bremerton will team up over Memorial Day weekend for Kitsap Harbor Festival.

The port is hosting the festival to showcase its marinas on either side of Sinclair Inlet. City governments, chambers of commerce and community groups all have their oars in the water to offer up a boatload of fun.

At the heart of the festivities will be boats: big, small, vintage, military and famous. Scheduled events include a visit from tall ships, boat shows and races, food and entertainment.

Port Orchard is using the festival to roll all its wacky maritime festivities into one weekend, including turning the town over to pirates, a murder mystery contest, a Dingy Derby Race, a seagull wing cooking contest and … the ever lovin’ reason we are Port Orchard, while other, more sane towns are not … the Seagull calling contest on Sunday.

Bremerton’s waterfront will be alive with action, including a Bridge-2-Bridge Run, arts and antique show, Kitsap Car Cruz with live entertainment, scuba demos, tours of an historic Coast Guard vessel and more.

Linking the two fair cities over the weekend will be the Bremerton to Port Orchard foot ferry, operating every 30 minutes from 8:30 a.m. to 7:45 p.m. Saturday through Monday. The fare is $2 each way. The port and both cities contract for the service, which is no longer provided on Sundays by Kitsap Transit.

Events are on the Bremerton Boardwalk (B) or Port Orchard waterfront (P), unless otherwise specified. For a complete listing of events, visit the Port of Bremerton’s Kitsap Harbor Festival page.

Saturday, May 28
7 to 10 a.m.: Bremerton Lions Club Pancake Breakfast (B)

8 a.m.: Registration, 4.4-mile Bridge-2-Bridge Run/Walk (run starts
at 9 a.m.) (B)

9 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Kitsap Arts & Antique Show/4th Street Market (B)

9 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Farmers Market and Pirate Marketfaire (P)

10 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Bremerton Boardwalk Festivities, crafts, merchants, food, scuba demos; remote underwater vehicle demos at 10 a.m., noon and 2 p.m.; beer garden, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Kitsap Library story time, 10:30 to 11 a.m., Carrie Kay, 1 to 1:30 p.m., Northwest Navy Band, 5 to 7 p.m. (B)

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Kitsap Harbor Regatta (both)

10 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Kitsap Car Cruz (B)

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Murder Mystery Weekend Registration & Clue Gathering (P)

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Bay Street Merchants’ Beer Garden; separate kids’ root beer garden (P)

10 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Historic military vehicle display (B)

10 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Tours of Comanche 202 – Historic U.S Coast Guard Vessel (B)

10 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Tall Ship Tours and Cruises – exact times to be scheduled by ship captain (B)

11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: B.O.O.M Pirates at the Marina Park (P)

11 a.m. to 1 p.m.: Pirate Costume Contest (adults, kids, pets) (P)

11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Kids’ Pirate Zone (Mermaid Cove) (P)

1 p.m.: Kids’ Pirate Story Time (kids ages 2-5) at the Port Orchard Library (P)

1:30 to 2:30 p.m.: Land Lubbers Pirate Dingy Derby Race (P)

4 p.m.: Free movie (Blackbeard’s Cove) at Port Orchard Library (P)

6:30 p.m.: Pirate Ball at Moon Dogs Too, music by Soulstice, (kids welcome until 8 p.m.)

Sunday, May 29
8 a.m. to 10. a.m.: Pancake Breakfast at Amy’s On The Bay benefiting the South Kitsap Helpline (P)

9 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Farmers Market and Pirate Marketfaire (P)

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Kitsap Harbor Regatta (both)

10 a.m. to 7 p.m.: Tall Ship Tours and Cruises – exact times to be scheduled by ship captain (P)

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Historic Military Vehicle Display (B)

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Tours of Comanche 202 (B)

10 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Bremerton Boardwalk Festivities (see above); beer garden 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Kitsap Library Storytime 10:30 to 11 a.m.; Freckles Brown Band, noon to 2 p.m.; freestyle 3 to 5 p.m. (B)

10 a.m. to 6 p.m.: Bay Street Merchants’ Beer Garden/separate kids’ root beer garden (P)

11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.: Murder Mystery Weekend continues (P)

11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: B.O.O.M Pirates at the Marina Park (P)

11 a.m. to 5 p.m.: Kids’ Pirate Zone (Mermaid Cove) (P)

11:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.: Coroner’s report: Hear the gritty details surroundin’ the murder and piece the mystery together. (P)

Noon to 2 p.m.: 23rd Annual Seagull Calling Contest Contest (P)

Noon to 2 p.m.: “Seagull” Wings Cook-Off (amateur setup at 9 a.m.) (P)

4:30 p.m.: Murder Mystery reveal and cannon show (P)

Monday, May 30
Note: Monday events are held in Bremerton only.

10 a.m. to noon: Memorial Day Service, USS Turner Joy (DD951)

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Bremerton Boardwalk Festivities; 10 to 10:50 a.m., Carrie Kay Patriotic Songs; 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m,. Synergy Dance Company; 1 to 3 p.m., Joey Dean Band

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Tours of Comanche 202, historic Coast Guard vessel

Help plan for Port Orchard’s parks

What would you like to see happen with the city of Port Orchard’s parks?

There’s been some discussion of the city taking over the county’s Veteran’s Memorial Park, which is popular with soccer teams. The park already is within city limits, and the county is having budget problems. What do you think of this idea?

What else would you like to see done to improve city parks?

How would you rate city parks overall?

What is your favorite city park? Why?

The city of Port Orchard is is looking for citizens’ input on it parks. The city is updating its comprehensive parks plan and is seeking city residents willing to volunteer on a parks planning subcommittee.

A meeting of the subcommittee is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday at city hall. Other meetings are set for April 20, May 18 and June 18, according to the city’s website.

The city has grown and expanded through annexation over the past several years, nearly doubling its population and acreage. The parks plan needs to be updated to reflect and respond to that growth.

The subcommittee will be made up of Port Orchard residents, planning commission members and elected officials. A draft City Parks Plan must be submitted to the Port Orchard Planning Commission and City Council by December.

A city parks survey will be available in March on city’s website at Citizens’ comments will be incorporated into the parks planning process. Those who wish can be included in an “interested parties” list.

Comments and suggestions can be sent to City of Port Orchard, 216 Prospect Street, Port Orchard, WA 98366, or e-mailed to

Port Orchard/Port of Bremerton … It’s Complicated

Those who don’t live in or around Port Orchard may wonder what’s all the hoofla with the city’s proposed waterfront pedestrian-bike pathway.

The city of Port Orchard and the Port of Bremerton have been negotiating on where and if the proposed path will cut through a waterfront park owned by the port. A compromise suggested by City Councilman Jerry Childs and Port Commissioner Roger Zabinsky appears to be a workable compromise on what has been a prickly issue. Port commissioners and city council members will walk the route at 5 p.m. Feb. 15.

Another issue between the city and the port is downtown parking. An earlier impasse appears to be breached with a proposal now on the table to have the city relinquish 32 spaces it controls near the Port Orchard Marina to the port. In exchange, the port would give up control of 31 spaces next to the park the city wants for paid parking. About 10 spaces along the water next to the park would be city controlled for park users. The time limit there would be two hours.

The discussion of the pathway and parking is part of a larger, comprehensive plan for the waterfront area that the port and the city are working on.

To fully appreciate the history of mild to moderate contention between the city and the port on these and other erstwhile points of contention, one needs to look at a map of the waterfront showing each entity’s interest in the various properties. In short, it’s complicated.

The map, below, was created by the port and shows the patchwork of ownership and interests that forms the basis of the relationship between the city and the port.

As you’ll see, the port owns or leases most of the properties. The city and port recently reached an agreement to have the port lease the Water Street dock — another bone of contention, now calmed.

Kitsap Transit is a third entity that owns and leases properties near the foot ferry dock, and just to further complicate matters, Kitsap Regional Library’s Port Orchard operations are housed in a city-owned building, also near the foot ferry.

Here’s the map:

What Port Orchard’s Newest City Park Could Look Like

The draft plan for a new public park in the McCormick Woods area is now available for public comment.

There’s been some confusion in the past about who will get to use the park. Let me make this perfectly clear: The park will be open to anyone and everyone. Although a draft plan is in place, anyone and everyone can still comment on what they’d like to see at the park. Read on.

A committee of citizens worked with city of Port Orchard staff from May through September to develop a proposed plan for the McCormick Village Park, land for which was acquired as part of the McCormick Woods annexation in 2009.

The park, on Old Clifton Road, includes approximately 26 acres with large trees, meadows, wetlands, streams and steep slopes.

Gem I LLC, the developer responsible for building in McCormick Woods and The Ridge, previously had an agreement with Kitsap County to dedicate the land as a park. Under the agreement, Gem I also agreed to pay nearly $650,000 in development fees toward creation of the park. When the annexation occurred, the agreement transferred to the city, which will be responsible for maintenance once the park is built.

Port Orchard used $50,000 of the development fees to hire a landscape architectural firm. Consultants from the firm have worked with the park committee and reviewed results of a public survey of all city residents about what they want at the park.

Proposed plans for the park call for nature trails, fitness stations, a picnic area, playground, restroom, a “nature playground,” amphitheater and parking area.

Under the agreement with GEM I, the site also will include a fire station to be built and operated by South Kitsap Fire & Rescue, as growth in the area drives the need.

The city council will review the draft plan and comments on Nov. 23.

The draft plan is available at the city’s website.

Submit comments to the City of Port Orchard Planning Department, 216 Prospect Street, Port Orchard, WA, 98366, or via e-mail at
McCormPark_MP 2010-10-14-Pref Alt Map

Mountain Bikers Disappointed in Cancellation of Banner Stewardship Meeting

If you were planning to attend the meeting of the Banner Forest Stewardship Committee Meeting on Monday, scratch that item off your calendar.

The meeting has been canceled, said Lori Raymaker, park stewardship coordinator, because “we don’t have any updates.”

Work on trails was halted in May, to give the county time to assess whether some of the new trails built by mountain bikers should stay. The county also wanted to allow for a review of the Banner Forest master plan, drafted in 2002.

Since then stewardship meetings, held every other month, have been well attended by mountain bikers and others with an interest in the park.

South Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido is leading the formation a Banner Forest Watch Group to review the master plan. The 12 volunteer slots will be filled by people representing the range of interests of park users. These include environmental education, flora, forestry, hiking, biking, equestrian, neighbors, wildlife, wetlands, photography, land conservation and recreation. One member of the Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board also will be part of the group.

Garrido on Friday said she’s been delayed in selecting from among the applicants, because the county’s board of commissioners has been conducting budget review meetings with each department for the past two weeks, commanding the board’s attention.

Garrido was a member of the group that drafted the original Banner Forest master plan, and uses the park frequently herself. She said it’s high time to revisit the master plan. It’s also important, she said, that the watch group represent the diverse interests of those who use the park.

The stewardship committee has been meeting and doing work on the park for the past nine years. Garrido appreciates the efforts of park stewards, many of whom are mountain bikers. But, she said, it’s important that work they do adheres to parks department standards for safety and fits with the overall vision for the park.

K.C. Butler, who enjoys trail running and mountain biking, is frustrated by the moratorium on work, including trail maintenance, at the park. Two work parties have been canceled in recent months.

Butler understands the master plan needs to be updated, and he knows some of the trails that have been built will not be permitted to stay. But he, and others, would like to be able to keep open the main trails that not only bikers but hikers and joggers use. Keeping “sight lines” open is important for everyone’s safety, he said.

“We’re not talking about creating anything new,” he said. “We just want to maintain what’s there.”

In Butler’s observation, the diverse users of the park get along well, most of the time. Others he’s talked to, besides mountain bikers, have expressed impatience with the moratorium.

“There’s kind of a huge community of trail users out there. They’re not all mountain bikers,” he said. “It’s kind of a close knit community out there.”

Banner Forest: Folks Needed to Keep an Eye on the Woods

Kitsap County is forming a Banner Forest watch group to monitor Banner Forest and help implement the Banner Forest Master Plan.
The county purchased the 635-acre Banner Forest from Washington Department of Natural Resources in 2000. The 2002 master plan included recommended steps to preserve the forest’s ecosystems while accommodating recreational uses.
The county is reassessing the plan, partially in light of conflict among users earlier this year.
South Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido is seeking applications from citizens willing to work with County Park staff to assure that the forest is sustained into the future. The watch group will be made up of people interested in environmental education, flora, forestry, hiking, biking, equestrian activities, wildlife, wetlands, photography, land conservancy and recreation. The group also will include residents living in the vicinity of Banner Forest.
Obtain an application and position description from Jan Koske, Kitsap County Volunteer Services Coordinator at (360) 337-4650 or Complete an application online at Applications should be submitted by 5 p.m. Aug. 23.