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Making the most of facilities

"Saturday, Jan. 22 was earmarked as a day for county wide consolidation. Members of county and city bodies, along with fire, schools and a potpourri of other groups met to discuss how they could use local facilities fully and to their best capacity.They discussed ideas like a new library in Poulsbo working side-by-side with new school facilities, opening under-utilized classrooms throughout the county to outside groups for meeting space and using gymnasium time on the weekends for youth sports programs, among other things.It looked like we had some great discussions, said Mariwyn Tinsley, a member of the Multiple Use of Public Facilities Committee and representative for the Gateway Community Family Resource Center. The richness of the discussions is unbelievable.The day-long gathering started with Cris Gears, director of Bremerton Parks and Recreation, introducing former associate Bridget Gothberg from St. Louis Park, Minn. Gothberg, who acted as moderator throughout the event, brought ideas and suggestions to Kitsap community members. Gothberg discussed a St. Louis Park model which combines services from the city and school district to improve the community's quality of life. In the model, the Parks and Recreation Department is funded jointly by the city and the school district, along with the Community Education Department. Appointed members of the city and school district sit on the board and advisory council of each entity.Other models discussed were an Iowa Public Facility Innovation project and the Bremerton Gateway Community Family Resource Center project. The Gateway Community Family Resource Center, located in Bremerton, is expected to open in June and will house a 24-hour child care, sick child room, Head Start classrooms, wellness checks and immunizations, a commercial kitchen serving box lunches and lattés for commuters, library services with Internet access provided by Kitsap Regional Library and transportation options still being discussed.By sundown of Saturday, more than 50 community leaders had circulated through the day-long event. This is just the beginning, Tinsley said. It was meant to spark ideas.After brainstorming possibilities for future joint projects, community members agreed some kind of unification is necessary.I think it is important to have a countywide vision with agencies signing on, said county Commissioner Chris Endresen. During the closing and debriefing of the event, individual groups broke out and committed themselves to a plan starting Monday morning. A tentative meeting time in March was set with hopes of seeing some of the talk activated. After a more formal plan, set in March, another goal date was set for Labor Day, where plans would be initiated.Gothberg told community leaders how much growth she saw in each of them throughout the day.Everybody on that continuum moved forward today, Gothberg said. You all are about great big stepping stones."

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