What Would You Pay to Play at Horseshoe & Wildcat Lakes?

In today’s story on the likelihood that Kitsap County will close Horseshoe Lake and Wildcat Lake parks for the 2010 season as a cost-saving measure, South Kitsap Commissioner Charlotte Garrido raises the question of whether the county should charge admission fees to keep the parks open.

The two parks were targeted by parks officials because, unlike other large parks, they don’t have rental facilities that could generate revenue. They are remote and therefore more costly to maintain. And there’s been gang activity at Horseshoe.

Several people commented on the fee issue. One suggested $5 a carload. Another said they would be willing to pay $5 per person, $3 for students, with children and seniors free. Yet another person said any fee would be prohibitive. Another person said, if the county institutes fees, they should apply to all parks, not selectively to the two that don’t generate revenue.

I called Garrido this morning about whether and how hard she would pursue the possibility of fees. With the new parks director Jim Dunwiddie arriving on Monday, she said, she will wait to comment further. But “nothing is off the table,” Garrido said, and instituting fees would definitely be part of the discussion county commissioners will have with the parks department.

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18 thoughts on “What Would You Pay to Play at Horseshoe & Wildcat Lakes?

  1. Family and youth recreation opportunities are an essential part of a quality community. I’m getting very frustrated that they continue to be such a low priority to Kitsap County, especially in South Kitsap!

    I have spent a little time this afternoon looking at the 2009 County Budget. Parks and Recreation took the biggest hit in the county’s budget, eliminating 19.5 positions Yet we increased two positions in the Auditor’s office, one position in Purchasing and Records, one position in Administrative Services, and 2.5 positions in the Prosecutors office (page F19 of 2009 County Budget).

    We cannot afford to continue to neglect our parks and recreation facilities, especially in South Kitsap! Step up and make these facilities and parks a priority so that we can be a family friendly community! Invest in them, so that they can become revenue generators instead of threatening to close them all the time!

    Kathryn Simpson

  2. South Kitsap/Port Orchard has the distinction of the most off lead dog parks in Kitsap County… four or five … and took prime cropland to put in the last known dog park over your way.

    Banner Park is a first rate (I’ve heard) park for their citizens. I don’t know of another facility like it in the entire county. The south end has an envious park system, it seems and very tempting for folks to consider a move over by Banner Park – I’m tempted…

    I know folks who would move there in a heartbeat, but they have children in school and won’t put them in the SKSD. Their priority is a scholastic education…not a community school.

    The parks should generate income to help pay for themselves… $5 a carload sounds fair enough and simple.

    Various groups might volunteer to help… just ask.
    Sharon O’Hara

  3. Sharon, Banner Park is Banner Forest Heritage Park. It is a very nice, car-dependent park on the east side of the South Kitsap Peninsula and it is what its name implies. A preserved forest with trails for walking and riding bike. It’s nice, but probably not what we’re referring to when we say recreational opportunities for children and families.

    Kathryn, thank you for the budget information. Assuming you’ve interpreted it correctly, it makes sense that as the parks department budget is cut, the prosecutor’s office budget needs to be increased.

  4. Karen,

    Thank you! We see this the same way. Do we put the ambulance at the bottom of the cliffs (the prosecutor’s office, law enforcement, juvenile justice, and rehab) or do we front-end some efforts (like youth recreation opportunities, sports programs, boys and girls clubs, after school programs) that keep people from getting too close to the edge and fall off?

    We must start paying attention to the front-end and if we do, there will be far less need for the ambulance team at the bottom of the cliffs!

    You also hit the nail on the head as to the difference between Banner Forest and the recreational opportunities for families that I was referring to in my earlier post. Further, sports and activity venues have an ability to be self-supporting if we can show some leadership and good management!

    Kathryn Simpson

  5. “A preserved forest with trails for walking and riding bike…” and not what you have in mind for kids and families?

    Karen, What kind of families do you mean that wouldn’t enjoy the Banner Park you describe?

    The species of families and kids I know hike and fish and camp and ski, compete in dog and horse shows, boating – they’re outside in whatever they can get involved with.
    Just yesterday, one great-granddaughter signed up for PeeWee basketball….and another one is already playing soccer, but these families hike and play together…they would love such a place as Banner Park in their backyard but not your schools.

    Hiking, Kathryn, is your idea of kids ending up “…ambulance at the bottom of the cliffs (the prosecutor’s office, law enforcement, juvenile justice, and rehab)…?

    If the organized sports field is the best you can come up with to save the kids…these kids are in trouble.

    Where do they learn how to take care of themselves, to learn self reliance, admire the turn in a leaf, how to let a tree tell them if they are traveling in the right direction, to notice broken twigs and what animal broke it…which direction is north?

    How to read tracks and follow them, how to find water if none is visible…nature involves all the senses, Karen and Kathryn…not the little ball game with its fast and brief intensity…and then the season is over and maintainance is kept on an empty, unused space.

    Where are the kids then?

    I like and enjoyed organized sports, ladies, especially baseball…but the values in my life for what its worth, was learned off the organized sports field….our waterways, our mountains…I value those natural things in nature being kept alive and accessible for your kids…

    I WANT my taxes going toward things of value and that does not include organized sports fields to the exclusion of such undervalued places as your Banner Park.

    Our natural resources are invaluable in the lessons they teach and the enjoyment and wonder of discovery for kids and adults.

    Our waterways and forests are unforgettable spiritual experiences…where shouting and uniforms aren’t needed.

    There is more value learned in our forests and waterways and I’m sorry you feel such activities land kids in rehab.

    Our parks are needed for kids and families… where can volunteers sign up to help keep them open?

    Sharon O’Hara

  6. Sharon,

    Neither of us said that Banner Forest wasn’t valuable for kids and families. I spent years working with kids in the outdoors and taking them on hiking and water adventures. But kids don’t go do that every weekend or after school. Kids need sports programs, after school opportunities, clubs, and things to do that challenge their physical and mental energies.

    We, as a community, need a place like Olympic Stadium where we can host community events, whether they be football games, soccer tournaments, outdoor festivals, or whatever.

    Very few 4A high schools in the state do NOT have a turf field for competition. In fact, South Kitsap cannot host a play-off football game because WIAA says it must be competed on a turf field. So, South Kitsap is having to rent Olympic Stadium for tomorrow night’s play-off football game and had to rent another turf field for the play-off soccer game this week. That is revenue that goes somewhere else instead of staying in South Kitsap.

    Btw, how many kids use Banner Forest versus how many kids participate in local club and school sports programs? My kids have been in Banner Forest this past year. But not many of their friends even know it exists. Thus, Banner Forest isn’t a big draw to keep kids off the streets and engaged in positive activities. Sports, clubs, and after school programs are better suited to that purpose.

    Kathryn Simpson

  7. By the way, Sharon, use at Olympic Stadium is nearly every day of the year. Sometimes, by multiple organizations on the same day and even at the same time. It isn’t used a couple of times a month. It is used all BUT a couple of times a month.

    Kathryn Simpson

  8. Kathryn… I’m glad to hear Olympic Stadium is rented year around and smart of SK to rent rather than force taxpayers to pay the hideous costs to own…congratulations!

    I have to ask… I know your SKSD sports team is doing well, scoring high. I know your scholastic scores are low.

    Are more students impacted positively by the sports team than the ordinary students there for an education?

    Too bad for the tax payer the dog park folks weren’t so sensible..
    Sharon O’Hara

  9. Sharon, I’ve actually spent some time out at Banner Forest, both hiking and riding bike. It doesn’t sound like you’ve visited it, so you explaining the value of this undeveloped forest preserve to me is ironic.

    Do you have any idea how much the county paid for that land and how many people use it on a daily basis? I guess that is the thread, closing parks that get used, laying people off from jobs when there are no other job prospects, and spending millions of dollars on land-grabbing.

    I like trees as much as anyone, probably more than most people, having grown up in the mid west, but trees are not more important than people and the county parks department is not a conservancy.

    Funny thing. Chip Faver, the former County Parks Director, is the only area public servant I’ve heard say and this is not an exact quote, “..it is a role, or the role, of government to be a voice for people that don’t have one.” He wasn’t an elected official when he said that, I believe he was appointed to his position, and now he’s gone.

    Look around. The Pacific Northwest has no shortage of trees and water and mountains. What we do have a shortage of is providing adequately for our young people. All of the young people, not just the progeny of important people.

  10. Kitsap County has money and had money in the past for parks. It was money to buy property, not maintain and improve. I live near Wicks Lake where the Kitsap owns over 100 acres. Try coming by and riding your bike or walking your dog. After that go back to your Banner, Horseshoe, or Wildcat and compare facilities. What part of no funding is hard to understand? Your elected officials in Olympia did this by passing rules and regulations the last 20 years that have greatly restricted the ability of the County to operate and maintain parks. I have a little back round in that I was a South Kitsap Parks Commissioner for over 10 years. You want a fully functional park? You want a new Olympic Stadium? Gather the money from private sources and build it. Gather the money from involved and active organizations, private companies, and your neighbors and improve your park. Have a problem with how this is working? Call your elected representatives in Olympia and complain. What you have now is the direct result of you electing those in office and allowing them to pull the wool over your eyes and not do the job we put them in office to do. Just my opinion of course.
    Roger Gay
    South KItsap

  11. Thank you for some of the background information. All parks, forests, preserves are a good thing, but not at the exclusion of the people in the community.

    I don’t know if you caught the information in one of these stories that said the county is constructing a turf field at Gordon Fields at this time. Those fields are about 200 yards from the Olympic High School Stadium, another turf field, with lights, that sounds like it gets used 14 to 16 hours a day and generates income as well.

    I accept the reasoning that there is no money, it’s not their job, and so on, but you have the construction of a second turf field near the Fairgrounds when South Kitsap doesn’t have one. There’s something wrong with that premise.

    Maybe it’s just a case of the SK Commissioner delivering what her constituents want and the Central Kitsap Commissioner delivering what his constituents want.

  12. Karen…The south end chose dog parks – 4 or 5 that cost the taxpayer. Did you speak up against the cost to the taxpayer and put in a bid for a field instead?

    It makes sense to have the turf field at Olympic Stadium… centralized so everyone can use it and cost effective.

    If Banner Park has so little meaning to you and the current day crowd, why not shut it down and put in a field with the money saved?

    What – exactly – do you want?

    Sharon O’Hara

  13. “All parks, forests, preserves are a good thing, but not at the exclusion of the people in the community.”

    Exclusion of the people in the community? Most communities of people living in communities already bulldozed down and filled with street to street houses would disagree with you…

    Parks, forests, preserves are not only a good thing, they are done FOR the people in the community.

    Do you feel the same toward the seniors in your area? That would explain why your seniors have nothing on the south end. They’re held without value too.
    It is sad and surprising that they are without value to you as well. I’m sorry.
    Sharon O’Hara

  14. Sharon,

    No one in this forum has said that they do not value seniors. When you say, “it is sad and surprising that they are without value to you as well”, to whom are you referring?

    Kathryn Simpson

  15. Sharon,

    Would you like to know the GPAs of our fall sports teams?

    Three out of four of SKSD fall sports teams each had team GPAs of 3.0 or better. In fact, I think Volleyball was 3.6. Football fell a little short of 3.0. It was 2.9.

    Yes, we have kids that are struggling academically in South Kitsap and we are working hard to address that. While we do that, are you suggesting we take away sports and dessert for all?

    Btw, Sharon, from the 2009 Database available at OSPI’s website, below are local graduation rates (on-time and extended)…

    SKSD 81.3% and 88.3%
    PENN 83.2% and 88.4%
    NKSD 80.1% and 84.9%
    CKSD 89.4% and 97.8%
    BREM 63.6% and 69.9%

    State Wide Average: 78.4% and 83.0%

    Kathryn Simpson

  16. Sharon, please don’t put words in my mouth. I’m surprised that you have a problem with this, I’m surprised that you think a 40-mile round trip is “centrally located”. I know you’re a fan of the South Kitsap Commissioner, but at the expense of our most vulnerable citizens?

    What do you want, exactly? Do you want to put the genie back in the bottle? Turn back time? Do you want South Kitsap and surrounding area to be one big agricultural site? Crops growing where interstates use to be like one poster suggested? Do you want it to be a retirement village and Central Kitsap be the community that serves youth? Social engineering?

    I’ve lived in some different places, Scandinavian communities where people can’t pay enough taxes and children are held in high esteem. Communities where the athletic programs and the arts were subsidized by oil companies, even a bedroom community outside of Portland that somehow successfully absorbed 15,000 Russian immigrants. And it wasn’t a large city. I have to say, I’ve never lived in a community where the have nots have so little. It’s embarrassing. You should be embarrassed.

  17. Sharon,
    Judith Kay has started an offshoot of the SK senior center group called, “Senior Action Committee.” Her group is offering a big band punch bowl party tomorrow from 2-5 at Diane Watson’s place, D.J.’s Music up on Mile Hill Rd in South Kitsap.

    She’s working hard to address the needs of seniors. She’d love for you to join her. Or, if you can’t make her meetings, she’d love for you to help her get the word out.

    All the best,


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