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"Chamber, Parks Department await word from PFD"
"Sam Granato, executive director of the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce, said he believes the county will benefit most if a conference center is built on Bucklin Hill Road.But the Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Department has different ideas for using Public Facility District (PFD) money to benefit the county. It has proposed enhancing the Kitsap County Fairgrounds.The two Silverdale groups are among four competing for a .033 percent sales tax rebate the PFD is authorized to offer. To qualify, the project must serve a regional population and cost at least $10 million. One third of the total cost must be an in-kind contribution from the agency making the proposal. The agencies are operating on a tight deadline - to qualify for the state sales tax rebate, ground must be broken on the new facility by Jan. 1, 2003. The chamber's proposed 24,000-square-foot facility would be designed to host events like conferences, weddings and trade shows. It would have a capacity of 1,000 people. It's only a rough estimate, but Granato said the project would cost about $10.5 million. The chamber's in-kind contribution of $3 million would come from the value of the property and the improvements to it. Kitsap County owns some land the chamber proposes to use for the facility, including the planned Old Mill site park. But Granato is optimistic about obtaining the property - chamber members already have met with County Commissioner Tim Botkin, and there are plans to meet with other commissioners this week. We believe from what (Botkin) expressed to us that he is a strong supporter, Granato said.Property belonging to WestCoast Silverdale Hotel owner Joe Diamond near the Sandpiper Restaurant would be turned over to the county for parking, according to Granato.There are several advantages to locating the conference center in Silverdale, according to Granato, who has worked to sell them to the PFD board. The facility would be within walking distance of The WestCoast Silverdale Hotel, the Poplars Motel and the Cimarron Motel. It also would be an easy walk to Kitsap Mall, Old Town Silverdale, Waterfront Park and the Clear Creek Trail. There is a great advantage in terms of location - it's centrally located and people are already in the habit of coming here to shop. It is equidistant to the major ferry terminals, plus the hotels already exists, Granato said. A similar city of Bremerton conference center proposal would require new hotels to be built. There is also a financial advantage for the county, Granato argued. Sales taxes spent at Silverdale stores go into county coffers, while revenue from proposed conference centers in Port Orchard and Bremerton would go to city funds.The Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Department has one advantage over the chamber: it already owns and operates the land included in its proposal.The 129-acre Kitsap County Fairgrounds, located at the intersection of Fairgrounds Road and Stampede Boulevard, would be modified to create a unified theme and entice sporting events.If the goal is to provide a regional facility, this would provide the most bang for the dollar, said Joseph Coppo, open space coordinator for the Parks and Recreation Department.The proposal addresses the concerns registered by members of the Fairgrounds Neighborhood Coalition, Coppo said, and also represents a new direction for the facility.We are moving away from large commercial events like EndFest and toward holding smaller concerts in appropriate venues, like the redeveloped Thunderbird Stadium, Coppo said.The Parks Department proposal would include:l Converting the Pavilion into an indoor sports and recreation venue by providing a rubberized flooring surface suitable for soccer, basketball and fastpitch. Additional seating and break-out rooms would be added. l Artificial turf would be installed at Thunderbird Stadium (the turf would be covered with dirt for the annual rodeo). A new outdoor stage would be built and additional bleachers installed. l Dividers would be installed at the Presidents Hall to accommodate meetings and additions would be built to expand food services operations.l The Fairgrounds baseball and softball fields would get a facelift, with improved surfaces and upgraded lighting and seating. l A new covered horse arena and corrals would be constructed and the horse barn would be upgraded.l A new indoor playground for children would be added, along with two miles of new walking/biking trails, a camping area for rodeo entertainers and improved storm drainage. The PFD would pay $9 million and the county would contribute $2 million in Fairgrounds surcharge fund revenues. In addition, the county would donate 129 acres of existing fairgrounds land to satisfy the one-third local match requirement.The PFD must decide which project to fund by Sept 24. "