Controversial parks project creeps forward

The future development of Anderson Landing, a county park/preserve on Hood Canal, is being debated.

Acquired by Kitsap County Parks and Recreation in the 1970s, the land has remained undeveloped for years. Staff from the county Parks and Recreation Department and a task force from the CK Community Council met last week to form a stewardship committee for the 79-acre property located on the shore of Hood Canal.

Bob McBride, a task force volunteer, is spearheading the project, according to Tex Lewis. Lewis said he decided not to get directly involved since he still has much work to do on the four-mile Clear Creek Trail system, which snakes north/south through Silverdale.

McBride said most of the concerns about Anderson Landing, voiced at the meeting Feb. 9, were from neighbors of the park, and include protection of eagles, as well as cougars and bears, how and where trails should be laid, and how boardwalks or bridges may be more appropriate for wetlands; possible vandalism once the park is opened to the public; fear that a deep ravine, with a trail on top, might collapse and pose a threat to visitors; and possible damage to the beach. There’s also a privately owned easement blocking the easiest entry to the landing. McBride said money may have to be found to purchase the sliver of land.

As for the landing, work has already started, said McBride. He and a handful of volunteers have cut several “soft trails” through the park over the past three months. The next work party is scheduled for April 3.

McBride and volunteers are inching their way through the park using common sense to guide them, and are trying to have as little impact as possible.

“I guess there’s two sides to every story,” said McBride. “To move forward, we need to compromise.”

He cited two individuals living in the area voiced the most concerns about developing the park.

“I’m not aware of anyone objecting to developing the park,” said Jack Hamilton, who lives near the landing. “But they’re not following the (county-sponsored) plan.”

He said a concept plan developed by the parks department was approved by County Commissioners in 2001. He suspects current developers, working under the aegis of the task force, are trying to avoid county permits by simply developing their own plan as they go along.

For example, said Hamilton, “There’s a neighbor of the landing who has a pond on his property. He’s afraid of the liability should youngsters wonder out of the park and into his pond. There’s also a deep ravine where a stream runs ... this is another place that’s dangerous for youngsters. If trails are laid without taking these things into consideration, there could be liability problems for the county.”

He said he wrote a letter to the County Commissioners, but has yet to get a reply.

“I really want this park built,” said Hamilton. “It gives me access to Hood Canal — I just want the county to follow proper procedures.”

He also criticized the parks department for being lax in maintaining parks after they’re developed.

McBride described the area as having varied ecosystems: There are uplands, freshwater wetlands and an estuary.

“It is exciting to see this project get moving,” said Lewis. “The county got the land in 1979, so a lot of thinking has been going on. The site has a lot of history. It was made available to the citizens of Kitsap County by the generous donation of Sandra Pelandini, the great granddaughter of Oluf and Hulda Andersen, who were early Kitsap County pioneers.”

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