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Seeking middle ground for Old Mill site

"Silverdale residents last week chose a happy medium between development and preservation at the Old Mill site off Bucklin Hill Road.Connie Reckord of MacLeod Reckord, the firm conducting program directing and the pre-master planning for the site, introduced three concepts based on public opinion gathered at a previous site planning meeting in January.The concepts, spanning a range of development, generated heated discussion among those who attended the meeting at Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue's Silverdale Way station.Parking presented the most contention.Charles Delaire, owner of the Alliance Insurance Building on Bucklin Hill Road, voiced concern that if parking is not part of the site plan, visitors will park in his lot.County parks project manager Larry Cote suggested perhaps the Silverdale Hotel would be willing to share some of its parking since the park would be an attraction for out-of-town guests. County officials have approached the Silverdale Hotel, according to hotel accountant Joyce Brockman, and the hotel passed the inquiry on to the property owners.Sam Holcomb, a member of the Clear Creek Task Force, opposes on-site parking but was willing to compromise as long as hard surfaces were avoided.If you have to have parking, make sure you don't use impervious surface parking, he said. Go to the parking lot across the street: there's oil, antifreeze, brake fluid and other unspeakable stuff that comes out of the back ends of cars, and it all goes into Clear Creek.There was a lot of support for natural resources protection for the site and preserving access for the site, Reckord said.The first proposal, Concept A, was the favorite of Clear Creek Task Force members because of its low-impact and wetland enhancement. Concept A doesn't include parking or a permanent restroom. A soft surface trail would extend from the access point across from Blaine Street, loop around a wetland, and provide a viewpoint at the waterfront. It minimized what I would call traditional park development and maximized natural resources, Reckord said. The mill saw would remain, and perhaps an informational kiosk would explain the history of the Old Mill and the wildlife and vegetation in the area. Concept B steps up development, adding a six- to 10-car parking lot near the access point. Although there is more development, there is still some wetland enhancement and preservation.A paved loop trail would lead from the access into the park. Again, informational kiosks and benches would be available. Concept B calls for additional soft-surface trails, a seasonal restroom that could be removed during winter months, and a picnic area on meadow grass.A shoreline access trail would snake through woods on the plot and connect with the Clear Creek Trail. Concept C involves the most development, nearing the limits of what MacLeod Reckord felt the site could physically handle.An 18- to 30-car lot would sit near the access point, but the lot could start small and be expanded. From the lot, a series of looped trails would lead to waterfront viewpoints and connect with the shoreline trail.MacLeod Reckord proposed restoring a pier into the inlet as an added attraction.A permanent restroom would sit on the site, and a lawn area would be created and maintained for picnicking; a sheltered area could also be built.A shoreline trail would probably be located behind the natural shore berm.The development of Concept C was too much for most people, who opted instead for a middle ground between A and B. I think I'd like to see this area here for a brief time of rest and peace and silence to get away from the concrete, said Gladys Buskirk-Weeks, who lives on Chico Way near Silverdale.I'd like to see it more of a natural place. It's the waterfront ... waterfront is hard to come by anymore, she said.Dave Skelton, who lives near the Fairgrounds, said he enjoys watching eagles nesting from the Old Mill Site. Too much development might scare them away, he said. That said, a parking lot and would make the park more user-friendly.I'd like to be able to take my 93-year-old aunt and show her the wildlife, he said. Just listening to the birds is nice.MacLeod Reckord will compile comments and will make them availale to the Parks and Recreation Department. By May or early June, a proposal will be available, and the public will again be called to voice thoughts and opinions."

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