News

Meakin anwers neighbors' concerns

Greg Meakin has heard the strong opposition to the Silverdale ice arena expressed by the Fairgrounds Neighborhood Coalition.

But if the project goes as planned, Meakin said, he’ll be a neighbor, too.

“Doesn’t it make sense that as a new neighbor, I will be deeply concerned about the critical issues such as traffic flow, infrastructure and good roads?” Meakin asked.

Fairgrounds neighbors have expressed concerns about the environmental impact of the 46,000-square-foot facility on nearby Barker and Pinsch creeks, about who will own the facility if the business fails, about how the facility will be used, and, most of all, about increased traffic.

Meakin, a Central Kitsap resident, said he will address traffic concerns by “signing a contracted agreement to pay the facility’s fair share of of traffic improvements.” He envisions the agreement with the county as a “blank check.”

But Susanne Dixon of the Fairgrounds Neighborhood Coalition said Meakin’s idea of improvements might not jibe with what the neighbors want — sidewalks and pedestrian paths.

“I guess my question would be ‘What are road improvements?’ Does he want a four-lane road going through here?,” Dixon asked.

The ice arena will house a cafe, arcade, equipment shop and women’s health club. The proposed lease would give Meakin a wide berth for entertainment events as well as athletic activities. This is another neighborhood concern, Dixon said.

The community stands to benefit from the 35-year lease agreement, Meakin said. In exchange for the land, the county would receive 186 hours per year of ice time, which could be used for community events or learn-to-skate programs. The county also could use of the facility during the fair, Meakin said.

Ice time in Seattle is worth $220-$300 an hour, according to Meakin.

If the venture fails, the $4 million facility will come under control of Chuck and Joanne Haselwood, the owners of the Haselwood Auto Group who are financing the project. The facility could be turned into an indoor soccer arena or a community center, Meakin said.

If the Haselwoods abandon the project, the the county would take over ownership of the facility, according the lease.

Many neighbors said they are not opposed to an ice arena in Silverdale, but they want it closer to the freeway, not in a residential area.

Meakin said the Fairgrounds is an optimal location and in line with the 1999 findings of the Kitsap Community Facilities Committee, a precursor to the Kitsap County Public Facilities District.

The committee recommended forging public-private partnerships to build more indoor athletic facilities, which should be clustered in a campus-like setting.

Meakin recently contacted the Fairgrounds Neighborhood Coalition, via the Central Kitsap Community Council, and asked to discuss their differences.

The coalition declined, saying it was too late to discuss the ice arena affair because it’s already in the hands of the Kitsap County Commissioners.

The commissioners are scheduled to review the proposed lease at a meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. Monday, March 18, at the courthouse in Port Orchard.

“It’s not to say there is no opportunity for communication,” Dixon said, “but there have been lots of opportunities for him to come to us from the beginning.”

A public hearing on the arena is scheduled for 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 13, at the Eagle’s Nest building on Fairgrounds Road.

“I still staunchly believe that kids will be skating by November or December,” Meakin said.

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