Fairgrounds gets a new name and new money

The “county fairgrounds” are about to go the way of the dodo bird.

Just too old fashioned.

Kitsap County commissioners voted unanimously recently to begin transforming the fairgrounds into the “Kitsap Special Events Center.”

They voted Aug. 19 to pay MacLeod Reckord Corp. $361,692 to act as general contractor for Phase I: Designing the center.

This follows Parks and Recreation being awarded $4.2 million by the Public Facilities District (PFD).

(The PFD is a special taxing district formed by commissioners to rebate sales tax for recreational projects in the region. Bremerton benefitted with about $7 million in seed money to build a conference center/hotel complex as part of its downtown redevelopment.)

“The original proposal (request) we submitted to the PFD was for (about) $12 million,” said Cris Gears, parks director. “We didn’t get that. We got $4.2 million, so we came up with a (smaller) list of projects we thought most important — the greatest good for the greatest number with the dollars available.”

What parks management hopes for with its $4.2 million — and whatever else it can raise — is a more versatile Pavilion where sports can be played, year-round; more and better parking; more and better pedestrian throughways; reconfigured and more efficient playing fields; better drainage, more lights for games; and on-site/off-site camping.

A design team from MacLeod will do Phase I work, such as surveying and mapping, site inventory, assessment and documentation, public workshops, program review, evaluation and recommendations, schematic design and examination of site development details.

The first phase must be finished in time to start construction — no later than Dec. 31, 2002. Gears said they’ll probably start on a few things sooner than this. This was the date set in the inter-local agreement between the county and PFD. The entire project is estimated to be finished by summer 2003.

The following first-phase elements are subject to change:

• Kitsap Pavilion — Building improvements such as renovation of the rubberized flooring; expansion for storage; addition of bleachers and sports equipment. Site improvements include work on the plaza and frontage road. Utilities upgrades.

• Van Zee Food Service — Building renovated, outside improvements and fire suppression inside. An alternative plan involves demolition of Van Zee and construction of a new food structure, west of the Pavilion. Utilities work.

• Pedestrian circulation — Paved walkways, outdoor stairways, trails; the usual utilities.

• Paved parking — Main lot, Stampede Road lot, Gordon Field lot, paving and stripping; landscaping, curb and gutter and lighting.

• Community Baseball Fields — New concession/restrooms; general site renovation, including drainage work and upgrading playing surfaces, seating; utilities.

• Youth Softball/Soccer Fields — Drainage; upgrading playing surfaces.

• Event Camping — General upgrades to existing facility, and additional facility west of Thunderbird Stadium; utilities.

As for the future?

Dennis Oost, parks project manager, said the county hopes to secure other grants and funds from other sources — as well as more money from the PFD in the future — to properly create an Events Center.

County Parks did recently receive well over half a million dollars in grant money from an inter-local non-profit formed to help parks. Oost said the money will be spent on lighting at the Events Center.

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