Neighbors make noise about Fairgrounds noise
June 11, 2008 · Updated 11:27 AM
"Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Director Cris Gears was careful to tell the estimated 100 people at the Silverdale Community Center Wednesday, April 18, that nothing was set in stone.A variety of proposed revisions to the Kitsap County Fairgrounds - ranging in scope from minor changes to a major overhaul involving a new hotel and convention center - were conceptual plans ... these are dreams on paper, Gears said at the Central Kitsap Community Council's town meeting. They aren't, however, the dreams of people who live in neighborhoods near the Fairgrounds. Most of those at Wednesday's meeting didn't object just to the Parks Department's plans for the future of the Fairgrounds. They object to how it's used now.Many were members of the Fairgrounds Neighborhood Coalition, a highly organized group carrying placards and prepared statements. They helped compose what was almost certainly the largest crowd ever to attend a community council meeting in its two-year history.Ingrid Nantz of Cedar Hills said the group opposes changing our neighborhood streets into arterials in order to relieve congestion on Wheaton Way/State Rout 303. It also plans to agitate against sweeping changes to our county Fairgrounds.Several Fairgrounds neighbors spoke out against events like the annual EndFest concert and a recent rave party at the Pavilion. Louise Russell, who lives in the Cedar Hills development, said new buildings, loudspeakers and year-round booking have made the Fairgrounds a nuisance.When we bought into the neighborhood, we expected to have relative peace and quiet, Russell said. All that has been spoiled in the last two years.Tom Williams of Creekside Lane complained of property damage, vandalism and littering during Fairgrounds events. Like many who spoke Wednesday, he is particularly unhappy about EndFest. At the 1999 concert, people who parked along my property decided to have a tailgate party and use my lawn as an outhouse.I can handle a little bit of music, he added, but I can't stand my property being destroyed.Don Taylor of Fairwood Lane cited the arrest of several people for selling the designer drug ecstacy at the recent rave as evidence of the increasing danger of large Fairgrounds events.We understand the need of the Parks Department to generate revenue, he said. But aren't parks inherently paid for by taxpayers? Isn't it unreasonable to ask Fairgrounds-area residents to risk their safety just to raise revenue?The neighborhoods around the Fairgrounds are populated largely by families, many residents said. Three schools - Olympic High School, Fairview Junior High and Woodlands Elementary - are located within a few blocks of the facility.Rainey Kay Stolp said her son is forced to sleep in the basement to get away from noise during periodic demolition derbies at Thunderbird Stadium. Her family lives more than a half mile from the Fairgrounds.The clean-up after such events is also troublesome, she said.I strongly encourage you to drive Nels Nelson the morning after a concert to see the vast amounts of garbage strewn along the roads and in the yards, and to see the vandalism such as torn fences and mangled street signs, she said. It looks like a disaster area, you will not leave unaffected.She asked parks planners to cut back on loud events, eliminate offensive and destructive events, and make activity sizes compatible with available parking.The Parks Department's Gears said a task force has been formed to review the county's policy on use of facilities like the Fairgrounds. It includes representatives from the county parks, Sheriff's and Prosecutor's departments, as well as Fairgrounds-area residents. A draft policy would limit events that are potentially dangerous to residents or the environment, excessively noisy, cause too much traffic, or promote violence or drug use. It also would require organizations using the Fairgrounds to prove events would have a positive impact, culturally and economically, on the county and surrounding neighborhoods.He promised changes not just to who uses the Fairgrounds, but to the campus itself, too. He said it not a facility we're particularly proud of. It has become something of an eyesore.However, there are no current plans to move the Fairgrounds to Gorst, as some had suggested at a previous meeting.I'm not going to tell you that every single thing you don't like is not going to happen, Gears said. The county Fair causes noise. Are we going to cancel the county Fair? Probably not. "