Category Archives: South Kitsap Parks

County Hosts Forum on SK Park’s Future

Do you or a group that you’re with have a vested interest in the future of South Kitsap Community Parks? South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel and the Kitsap County Parks & Recreation Department want to hear your ideas at a meeting at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 15 at the county’s administration building, 614 Division St., Port Orchard.

The meeting is the first of five set to chart a course for the park, which operated for nearly 30 years as an independent entity until it was acquired by the county this spring.

Angel has said she wants an “open public process,” with all comers welcome, and no particular preference given to groups or individuals who have historically been stakeholders in the park. A tabula rasa, so to speak.

Parks district officials have indicated they will continue to allow groups like Kitsap Live Steamers and the horseshoe folks to occupy the park, but in terms of planning for the park, having a hand-picked group of decision-makers is not in the cards.

Angel, herself, has done a bit of sketching on SK Park’s blank slate. She has been meeting with Karcher Creek Sewer District for an environmental learning center that she would like to see at the park.

The county has committed funding to the park over the next six years for for improvements, including ball fields, but the county’s budget is hurting, and county parks officials are open to stewardship groups stepping forward to play a role in park upkeep and programs.

In the past, there has been a lack of harmony among parties passionately committed to the park. It will be interesting to see who shows up to sketch in their ideas and how well they’ll be able to get along.

Here’s the official announcement.

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SK Parks: Hearing Completed

Update 3:36 p.m. Friday: Marc Brenman executive director of the Washington State Human Rights Commission confirmed that his organization was contacted by Warren Collver, who has had discussions with staff members. They sent Collver a claim questionnaire, Brenman said, but he has not acted on the concerns he voiced as yet.

Update, 12:26 p.m. Friday: SK Parks: Dissolution is Finalized

After 28 years as the governing entity for South Kitsap Community Park, the South Kitsap Parks & Recreation District Board of Commissioners is no more.
Judge Anna Laurie today granted the board’s petition to dissolve, which was filed in Kitsap County Superior Court last month, along with a quit claim deed to the park, which the board has turned over to Kitsap County.
The board had struggled for years to maintain the 200-acre park, which was not supported by taxes, and in April, it reached an agreement with the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners. The county last year pressured the parks board to release the park by bringing suit against it for past election debt.
During prolonged negotiations with the county, board member Margie Rees actively resisted the transfer, while other board members appeared to move toward resignation and eventually acceptance of the arrangement, under which the county has promised to put $2.19 million into the park over the next six years. Rees signed all documents relating to the transfer, however, and said at a celebration of the park’s history June 30 she was ready to work cooperatively with county staff.
Parks board chairman Larry Walker, and board members Rees, Ron Flerx and Mary Colborn were present at the hearing. Not present was board member Warren Collver, whose threat last week to file a discrimination complaint against his own board with the Washington State Human Rights Commission threatened to delay the dissolution. Since four people had filed to run for positions on the board, any delay could have incurred on the board the cost of the November election, an estimated $25,000 to $30,000.
During the hearing, Otto asked Laurie to bar any future claims against the parks board. Laurie refused, but granted the dissolution after no one came forward to file a claim against the board.
Otto said he is not concerned about Collver’s threat. As of Thursday afternoon, no complaint by Collver had been filed with the commission (although he last week said it was “in the mail”), said Otto. Otto on Thursday received an e-mail from Collver, who said he believes he has six months to make a filing. Even if that were true, Otto said, Collver’s claim of discrimination lacks merit.
Collver has complained about a meeting held in a location that, he says, was not adequately publicized and not accessible to people with disabilities. Collver uses a wheelchair because of multiple sclerosis. Otto has e-mails showing how the meeting was publicized, and he said he can prove that his office is fully wheelchair accessible.
Walker said he is relieved that the dissolution is final.
“I am currently unemployed as a politician,” he quipped after the hearing, adding on a more serious note, “I’m glad this is over with. We’ve finally turned the corner. The stagnation’s over, and we’re moving forward.”

10:53 a.m., Friday: As I’m on vacation, I didn’t attend the parks board dissolution hearing today, but I thought you’d all be interested to know Kathryn Simpson just called me to say she was at the hearing, and the parks board is dissolved.

Warren Collver, who had said last week he was planning to file a discrimination complaint against the board, did not attend the hearing, which was presided over by Judge Anna Laurie. Kathryn said she understood that as of 3 p.m. yesterday, there was no claim against the parks board on file with the Washington State Human Rights Commission.

The board’s lawyer, Tony Otto, asked the judge for a ban on any future claim against the board, Kathryn said. The judge did not grant that, but did grant the dissolution and said it would be next to impossible for anyone to successfully bring a claim against a non-existent entity.

Also see a blog comment Kathryn made yesterday:
“As for my post about withdrawing, I need to update the situation. After going to the Auditor’s office Monday afternoon and being told that if we withdrew there would be no “special election filing period” and there would be no elections for SKPRD, I received a call with an about-face from the Auditor’s office Tuesday morning. Their position changed back to what they told us when we filed in June… if we withdraw after June 14th, there would be a special filing period and still there would be a potential for elections in November. Thus, Tuesday I called back the others who had filed (sorry, I couldn’t reach you, Mike) and suggested that the withdrawls be held off pending Friday’s hearing.”

SK Parks: Unfinished Business and a Great Quote

July 13 12:15 – See update below.

Just when everyone thought the end was in sight …

South Kitsap Parks & Recreation District Commissioner Warren Collver, citing RCW 49.60, has filed a formal discrimination complaint with the Washington State Human Rights Commission against members of his own board and its attorney Tony Otto. The document is in the mail, he said tonight after what was supposed to be the board’s last meeting.
Collver has been a strong proponent of transferring ownership of South Kitsap Community Park over to Kitsap County, but his complaint could delay the parks board’s dissolution process and thereby incur on the board a cost in the upcoming election, estimated by county election officials to be between $25,000 and $30,000.

Tune in to www.kitsapsun.com just a little later tonight as …

Warren Collver speaks his mind.
Larry Walker tears his hair.
Tony Otto, perhaps, wonders why he got into the legal field.
And Kathryn Simpson says, if there were a way, she’d remove herself from the ballot and encourage other SK Parks candidates to do the same.

Like I said before … curiouser and curiouser.

Update: I spoke with Tony Otto this morning and he has assessed that Collver’s claim against members of the board, which could result in a fine up to $10,000, would constitute grounds for a delay on the dissolution of the board.

Karen Flynn this morning said that while the official deadline for candidates withdrawal is passed, the law allows her office to consider on a case by case basis late coming requests for withdrawal. One factor is the deadline for printing ballots and election pamphlets. Flynn, probably speaking for the rest of the SK folks who have followed this story’s bizarre twists and turns, summarized this latest episode by saying, “Ya know, you can’t get it off your shoe.”

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.

SK Park: Goodbye, Hello

South Kitsap Community Park volunteers past and present gathered today for what easily could have turned into a funeral. After 28 years of independence, the park has been turned over to Kitsap County, an agreement reached after nearly two years of sometimes less than friendly negotiations. The parks board hosted one last hurrah to say thanks to all the folks who have kept the park going on a shoestring.

Instead, it was more of an Irish wake (minus the Guinness), with the old guard (the parks board) toasting the new guard (county officials) and visa versa, and everyone saying the same thing — this is not the end, but a new beginning for the park.

“I think we’re turning it over to some very excellent stewards,” said parks board president Larry Walker. “They’re not the enemy. They’re our friends.”

“Since the decision was made, they’ve been really good to work with,” said Chip Faver, head of the county’s Facilities, Parks and Recreation. “They’ve put their hearts out to volunteer, to make it easier. However difficult this has been, it hasn’t been a difficult turnover process.”

Faver said not only were former parks volunteers invited to stay involved with the park and its future, he was counting on it.

Margie Rees, who strongly resisted the takeover, seemed upbeat and optimistic.
“I still am against their taking it over,” she said. “But I will work with them. We’ll work with them. … I hope it works out.”

Friday Afternoon Club: Now Hear This

SK Park Busy During Transition

Coming Up at the Park
Saturday: Annual Hotfoot 5K Run ,8:45 a.m.
Saturday and Sunday: South Kitsap Amateur Radio Club’s annual Field Day
June 30: Noon to 4 p.m., South Kitsap Parks Appreciation Day

Now that the South Kitsap Parks & Recreation District Board of Commissioners has signed the park over to Kitsap County, county workers are on the site cleaning up the park, which also got a lot of T.L.C. (tender loving care) from about 100 volunteer’s Wednesday during United Way’s Day of Caring.
The park will see a lot of activity over the next two weekends, including a 5K run, a ham radio demonstration and a celebration of the park’s history.
On Saturday and Sunday members of the South Kitsap Amateur Radio Club will be demonstrating how amateur radio works as part of a national Field Day for ham radio operators.
These are the folks you want to know in the event of an earthquake, terrorist strike or other event that knocks out communication. During Hurricane Katrina, for example, hundreds of volunteer “hams” traveled south to save lives and property.
According to the South Kitsap club’s president Mervin Archer, local ham radio operators at the event will demonstrate the newest digital and satellite capabilities. Club members are among more than 600,000 ham radio operators in the United States and more than 2.5 million around the world.
On Sunday, the park will also be the site of the annual Hotfoot 5K Run. Proceeds go to the Volunteer Firefighters Association to benefit its Community Scholarship Fund.
On June 30, the public is invited to the South Kitsap Parks Appreciation Day from noon to 4 p.m. at the park. Hosted by the parks board, this will be a chance for anyone who has ever volunteered for or cared about the park to celebrate its 28-year history as it begins a new chapter under county ownership. There will be food, music, children’s activities and train rides, as well as a program of appreciation with local dignitaries.
The parks board is seeking pictures and memories to incorporate into the event. If you have something to share, contact Margie Rees at (360) 871-6590 or (360) 871-1182 or Mary Colborn at (360) 674-2166, or webelievewecan@aol.com.

SK Parks Board Signs Intent to Dissolve

They took care of business, now they’re planning a party.
The South Kitsap Parks & Recreation District Board of Commissioners today signed off on a quitclaim deed releasing ownership of South Kitsap Community Park to Kitsap County. They also signed a petition to dissolve as a board, as per an agreement with the county arrived at by the two parties in April.
Under the agreement, the county, in exchange for park ownership, will excuse the parks board’s past election debt and invest $2.19 million in improvements at the park over the next six years. The agreement also states that the park will stay a park, no ifs, ands or buts.
In other business, the parks board discussed a celebration set for June 30 to honor all who have been involved with the park over its nearly three-decade history.

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Election Filings Put Pressure on SK Parks Board

No law exists to address pending elections for a board set to dissolve, county auditor said.

By Chris Henry
chenry@kitsapsun.com
South Kitsap
The South Kitsap Parks & Recreation Board of Commissioners will hold what will probably be one of its last few meetings Thursday. At the meeting, they will discuss the second of three steps toward dissolution, well aware that any significant delay in the process could have financial implications for the parks board itself, the county or both.
Parks board chairman Larry Walker has said he’s confident the process will proceed without a hitch, but if the process is not finalized by Aug. 14, the board could be responsible for costs in the upcoming election.

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Supporters of Chuck Jeu Center Lose Funding Source

New SK Parks Commissioner Vows to Work Cooperatively with County

With its existence as a governing body winding down, the South Kitsap Parks & Recreation District Board of Commissioners is looking at closing up shop. The board has so far taken one of three steps toward finalizing transfer of South Kitsap Community Park to Kitsap County. An agreement on the transfer was reached April 12 after lengthy and sometimes testy negotiations between the two parties.
In other SK Parks news, Mary Colborn, the parks district’s newest commissioner has hit a snag in her plans for future projects at the park.
Colborn was appointed to the board May 23 to fill the vacancy left when Steve Horn abruptly resigned earlier this year. She has learned that a potential funding source she was hoping to access for a recreation center at the park is no longer available to Supporters of the Chuck F. Jeu Family Recreation Center, a group she represents.

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County Approves SK Park Transfer

It’s official. The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners has accepted South Kitsap Parks District Board of Commissioners’ counter-proposal, which cements the transfer of South Kitsap Community Park to the county.
According to Commissioner Jan Angel, the park’s future is a blank slate. All we know is that the county has committed $2.19 milllion for improvements to the park ever the next six years. The next step is a “public process,” said Angel, in which all comers are welcome. In an upcoming article, I will report on what stakeholders in the park’s future have to say. I’m also hoping to hear from others who may have ideas about what they’d like to see at South Kitsap Community Park. It will be interesting to see how those in opposing camps work to bury the hatchet as they move forward toward what seems to be everybody’s goal: a viable, vibrant park (see parks commissioner Margie Rees’ comments below).

So blog on or e-mail me at chenry@kitsapsun.com. Thanks.

Here’s how one chapter in the parks 30+ year history ended.

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