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Neighbors find new concept fair to middlin'

"There was a new twist to the concept plans, and some neighbors of the Kitsap County Fairgrounds liked it. But for the most part, members of the Fairgrounds Neighborhood Coalition still want the Fairgrounds to pack up and move away - far away - and take the accompanying noise, vandalism and traffic with it.Neighbors voiced their opinion of concept E, the newest proposal county Parks and Recreation Department officials presented at a public meeting Tuesday, May 29.The new concept would include trails through the north and west wooded areas, and new sports fields on the Silver Spurs property. Plan E also included a possible overhead crossing from the Fairgrounds to the sports fields.Neighbor John George said he supported concept E, and acknowledged the problems of living near the Fairgrounds.Living down here you realize you're going to be inconvenienced two weeks out of the year, you just live with it. The Fairground was here before I ever came to live here, he said.Four concepts for improvements to make Fairgrounds facilities more efficient and profitable were presented at a public meeting earlier this spring. They ranged from minimal improvements to making the Fairgrounds a convention center, complete with its own hotel. That plan, concept D, also proposed buying the adjacent 40-acre Silver Spurs riding club property and moving fair and rodeo activities there.Concept E was intended to reflect comments we heard at the last meeting where neighbors came out and expressed their feelings, said Connie Reckord of McLeod Reckord landscape architects, consultants on the project. The neighbors spoke out against Fairgrounds expansion at the Central Kitsap Community Council's April 18 town meeting. Kitsap County Parks and Recreation director Cris Gears answered questions about the concepts and residents' concerns, while county parks planner Rick Fackler listed concerns and suggestions from the group.County Commissioner Tim Botkin sat in the front row and also sought to answer questions and assuage neighbors' concerns.Noise, vandalism and bad language from bands and fans at the annual summer Endfest concert was the biggest bone of contention.I'm very much against Endfest and other music things as long as they're bringing Seattle people over here, said one man. I realize it's revenue, and big-time revenue, but it should go away.Said Gears, We have no interest in booking Endfest-type events throughout the year. It has never been an option. How to minimize the impact on your neighborhood is what we're trying to address.Gears said new Fairground managers Frank Abbott and Lauran Erickson were working with Endfest producers to mitigate things that irritate neighbors.Hotel folks tell us at Endfest every room in the county is rented, said Gears. It is an economic boost. Is it worth the hassle? We're not sure.The traffic, and possible road improvements to Nels Nelson to increase traffic flow, continued to be a sore point with neighbors.Said resident Patience Du Bos, Every concept draws traffic. We live in a cul-de-sac off Fairgrounds (Road) and I can't turn off the road. And I have small children. Neighbor Jimmie Johnson said The consensus of all the residents of the area was that they didn't want a convention center ... What part of no does the (county) commissioners not understand?We don't want to bring people in from all over the United States (for conventions). Down at the docks in Silverdale is the preferred site for conventions, or Bremerton, Johnson said.There were also some unusual suggestions.I think - don't shoot me - they should put the county-city buildings here instead of Bremerton, one man in the audience said.Got a gun? someone else responded.One more meetingThe next public meeting about improvements to the county Fairgrounds will be the last, according to county parks planner Rick Fackler.At the next meeting we'll try to come back with a preferred plan, which reflects to the best of our ability what we've heard (the residents) say they want, Fackler said.The Fairgrounds is the last of eight county-owned recreation areas slated for this current round of development.The next step in the process is a review of the preferred plan by the Open Space Parks and Greenways Advisory Council. It then will go to the County Commissioners, Fackler said.The plan will include color drawings of the preferred plan, along with a written report about the meetings.We try to accurately reflect the issues raised during the public meeting process, Fackler said. The date and location of the final meeting have not yet been set. "

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