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Volunteer effort keeps Wildcat lake open seven days a week
All Leo Hahn wanted for his birthday was a busy day at work.
His wish may have been granted Wednesday as he turned 42 the same day Wildcat Lake went from being open five days a week to a full seven.
“Winter is coming,” said Hahn, who owns the nearby Wildcat Lake Grocery and relies on business generated by lake-goers to keep his shop booming each summer. “This is a good birthday present.”
With a group of volunteers pledging to keep the area clean, the lake is now open to the public every day through Sept. 23, when it will close for winter. The popular swimming and fishing area had been closed Wednesdays and Thursdays since April 1.
The reduced schedule allowed Kitsap County Parks and Recreation to save money, but it was a disappointment for swimmers and those looking to take advantage of this summer’s sparse sunlight.
Also for Hahn, whose business suffered Wednesdays and Thursdays because there weren’t as many people visiting the lake — and, in turn, shopping.
His store is across the street from the lake’s main entrance.
“Time is money right now,” said Hahn, of Chico, who had collected signatures of potential volunteers to help man the park. “A couple of days makes a big difference.”
Parks and Recreation has employees on-site Friday through Monday, and members of the Kitsap Tri-Babes, a women’s triathlon group that uses the lake to train, care for the lake free-of-charge on Tuesdays.
Now a new batch of volunteers will care for the park twice a week.
“We can all pitch in,” said Rich Seibert, a volunteer and member of the West Sound Triathlon Club, which in the past has trained at the lake on Wednesdays.
Seibert was among 15 people who attended a meeting Monday at Silverdale Waterfront Park to plan a volunteer-driven effort to keep the park open and clean.
Among the volunteer duties are picking up trash, scrubbing restrooms and cleaning the eight barbeque grills scattered around the lake.
Four volunteers were at the lake Wednesday, arriving as early as 6:30 a.m. to prepare the park for an afternoon rush. They picked up cigarette butts and lost T shirts, beer bottles and used napkins.
Mark Greene, 38, a retired Navy solar technician who lives near the lake, was the first to arrive, hauling and filling garbage bags before cleaning the grills.
“What else am I going to be doing right now?” Greene said, wearing leather gloves and filling buckets with soot and ash and lumps of charcoal. “Sleeping?”
Kitsap County Park Stewardship Coordinator Lori Raymaker told volunteers at the meeting Monday that the twice-weekly job will take between two and four hours each depending on the number of hands.
More than 1,000 people logged about 17,000 volunteer hours at county parks in 2009, Raymaker said.
“We’re asking for a big commitment,” she said.