SK Parks: Countdown to Dissolution

The South Kitsap Parks & Recreation District Board of Commissioners will meet at 6 p.m. Thursday at Park Vista retirement center in Port Orchard for what will likely be the last time.

The Board petitioned for dissolution last month as part of its agreement with Kitsap County to transfer ownership of the park to the county. A hearing on the dissolution is scheduled for 9 a.m. July 20 in Kitsap County Superior Court, and if no one comes forward with a claim against the park, monetary or otherwise, the dissolution will be finalized.

The board has already signed over the 200-acre South Kitsap Community Park to the county, and at a farewell celebration at the park June 30, even the most ardent park advocates were nostalgic but upbeat about the regime change and ready to move on.

One small cloud on the horizon is a threat made in late June by board member Warren Collver to lodge a discrimination complaint against the board. Collver has not responded to repeated attempts by the Kitsap Sun to contact him.

Parks board chairman Larry Walker recounted the dispute with Collver, who, he said, began sending critical e-mails to him in March. Walker said Collver’s main complaint was in regard to several special meetings held by the board, which, Collver alleged, were in violation of the law. Walker said Collver, who uses a wheelchair, also complained about discrimination on the part of the board. Some of his complaints centered around past discussions about physical access to meetings, which were moved from an upstairs meeting room to a retirement home, said Walker. But Collver also complained of being shut out of the decision-making process.
“He accused every individual board member of trying to sneak around behind closed doors and run secret agendas,” Walker said.
In mid-June Collver had “made noise” about lodging a complaint with the Washington State Human Rights Commission, Walker said. Collver repeated the threat at the parks board’s June 28 meeting. A staff member at the Human Rights Commission verified that Collver had called in May, but no formal complaint had been filed as of today (July 11).

Since the June 28 meeting, Walker learned from a story in the Port Orchard Independent that Collver does not intend to file a complaint. Walker has not heard directly from Collver, nor has parks board attorney Tony Otto, who is uneasy about the lingering pall Collver’s threat to file a formal complaint casts on the potential outcome of the July 20 hearing.

“If he does, it may just delay the dissolution of the park,” Otto said.

And here’s another, slightly more ominous cloud on the horizon. Any delay would be more than just a legal formality. If the board doesn’t dissolve by Aug. 14, it could incur even more election debt, since four people — all advocates of county ownership of the park — have filed for the upcoming election. Their action, said spokesperson Kathryn Simpson, was to ensure that dissolution would occur one way or another, even if the current board balked.

The candidates did not withdraw, even after the board signed papers on June 14 formalizing their intent to dissolve. A 30-day window was required to allow people to come forward with any claims against the parks board before the dissolution can become final.

“I’m just hoping it will go smoothly, and we can put the district to bed,” said Otto.

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