Ice arena put on hold

The Kitsap County Commissioners won’t consider a proposal to lease land at the Fairgrounds to Silverdale Ice Arena Inc. on Monday, March 18, as had been planned.

The ice arena lease was lifted from the agenda in part to allow for more public participation, Commissioner Tim Botkin told Fairgrounds neighbors Wednesday, March 13.

Consideration of the lease is “indefinitely postponed,” Botkin said.

Botkin added that the ice arena likely will go through a formal county permitting process, including submitting a conditional use application.

“It’s probably going to be at least a few months” before a lease is brought to the commissioners, Botkin said. “And they’re going to have to decide if they want to regroup and do it.”

Greg Meakin, managing director of Silverdale Ice Arena Inc., said Wednesday’s announcement was news to him.

“That was the first I or any of my team had heard of it,” Meakin said. “It was like ... huh. OK.”

Meakin, along with representatives of the companies that have signed on to build and design the ice arena, attended Wednesday’s meeting to explain the proposed facility to members of the Fairgrounds Neighborhood Coalition.

Meakin promised to follow whatever permitting guidelines the county requires of Silverdale Ice Arena Inc.

The organization hopes to build a National Hockey League-sized ice rink on 82,875 square feet of county-owned land.

As recently as last week, Meakin predicted the 46,041-square-foot building would be open by November or December. Botkin’s announcement makes that unlikely.

“We just want an ice rink for kids. That’s all we want,” Meakin said.

Botkin met with the coalition to present a list of proposed neighborhood improvements.

Neighbors are concerned about the impact the ice arena, as well as planned improvements funded by the county Public Facilities District, will have on the Fairgrounds area. Neighbors have complained primarily about possible environmental and traffic problems associated with the ice rink and the PFD improvements.

Botkin said he was “willing to promote” plans to limit impervious surfaces at the Fairgrounds; to attempt to purchase the Silver Spurs property on Nels Nelson Road, which would be turned into a community park, trails and ball fields; and to improve and encourage transit access to the Fairgrounds during major events like EndFest and the Fair.

Botkin also suggested the county would ensure that new developments would not adversely impact nearby Barker and Pinsch creeks.

He promised to make the revamped Pavilion more accessible to Fairgrounds neighbors, in which case it would “function as the best community center in the county.”

“If nothing else happens, we already have a Fairgrounds which is used for regional events,” Botkin said. “There ought to be some resources devoted to mitigate the impact on locals.”

Initial reaction from neighbors was positive.

“I think this is a really good start,” said John Nantz, one of the leading opponents of further Fairgrounds development. “I think a lot of people can get behind this and work on it.”

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