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Partnership helps SE county park stay open

A partnership between Kitsap County and Key Peninsula Metropolitan Park District will keep a South Kitsap park open daily through October.

Horseshoe Lake County Park, located near the Pierce County line, has operated on a Friday through Sunday schedule since 2010 when Kitsap County’s park budget tightened and the recession’s effects continued to wear down services to the public and its hours for the 39-acre park were cut.

Key Pen’s executive director Scott Gallacher said that will change for the time being after his organization and Kitsap County signed a one-year joint-working agreement.

Key Pen and Kitsap County signed into a one-year agreement that will be evaluated sometime in the fall after the park closes for the winter, Gallacher said.

He said the joint-working agreement to keep the park open all week has been in the works since 2010, but for some reason was never signed into action by Kitsap County officials until recently. He said he’s happy Key Pen could finally lend some assistance, and the lake park will see swimmers and bikers every day of the week.

“We have had it scheduled in our budget for the last few years, but we haven’t been able to pull it together,” he said. “We’re happy to finally be able to help out.”

Kitsap County Commissioner Charlotte Garrido said it’s the other way around. She said Kitsap County was ready to sign an agreement in 2010, but that Pen Parks had to work out the finances before deciding on the partnership.

“We first started talking to them in 2010, but they weren’t quite ready to do it then,” Garrido said. “We were all in a difficult economic mode.”

Garrido said a genuine, equal partnership serves the interests of both the Key Peninsula and Kitsap County.

“It benefits them and it benefits us,” she said. “It’s been a wonderfully well-used park for years and years.”

Gallacher said Kitsap County will be responsible for maintenance and operational tasks in the park from Friday to Sunday, while Key Pen employees will take over the daily tasks, such as bathroom cleanup and trash removal, during the week. He said Kitsap County will continue to mow the park, and be in charge of any large park repairs.

Key Pen Park District oversees 1,200 acres of mostly undeveloped park land on the Key Peninsula. Gallacher said Key Pen will hire one part-time seasonal employee to help with increased workload with Horseshoe Lake Park. Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Director Jim Dunwiddie said general operations will still fall under Kitsap County’s control.

“We’ll do all the heavy stuff,” Dunwiddie said.

Gallacher said many Key Peninsula residents use Horseshoe Lake Park because it is so close to the Pierce County boarder.

“We’ve heard from several residents in Key Peninsula in the past that called to say they wanted that park open,” he said. “We are trying to accommodate those needs.”

He said it makes since for Kitsap County Parks and Recreation to work with Key Pen just as other county agencies, such as fire and police, might work together.

“It’s all about partnerships,” he said. “It helps us keep parks open.”

Horseshoe Lake Park opened on May 18. The park operates from dawn until dusk.

 

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