Community center, Fairgrounds targeted for drug-free zones

Officials have plans in the works for the Silverdale Community Center and county Fairgrounds to become drug-free zones.

The county commissioners are considering an ordinance to designate the facilities as drug-free zones, creating a 1,000-foot perimeter around the facilities which also would be considered drug-free zones. The proposed ordinance was discussed at Wednesday’s Central Kitsap Community Council meeting.

The ordinance falls under state RCW 69.50.435 which “provides for enhanced penalties to be imposed upon any person who manufactures, sells, delivers, or possesses with intent to manufacture, sell, or deliver a controlled substance within designated areas, including drug-free zones.”

It was discussed at the meeting that while drug dealing and manufacturing are illegal no matter where a person is, enacting the buffer zones would mean harsher penalties for those convicted of partaking in such activities in designated drug-free zones.

“It creates enhanced penalties, if convicted it adds 24 months to the sentence,” said Kitsap County deputy prosecutor Jennifer A. Irvine Forbes. “It can potentially double the maximum penalty. It’s a really effective tool when dealing with drug dealers and drug manufacturing.”

Under state law, certain areas, such as schools, are already designated as drug-free zones. The Silverdale Community Center and Fairgrounds are considered civic centers which under the state statute can be designated as drug-free zones by the county.

“It’s a valuable tool used by prosecutors and law enforcement,” Forbes said, referring to the drug-free zone designation. “It does a lot for this community and gets people off the streets for at least two more years.”

Schools, on school and transit busses, transit bus shelters, within 1,000 feet of schools and school bus stops, public parks and public housing projects are officially designated drug-free zones by the state.

“It’s a great tool,” Forbes said. “I prosecuted several hundred drug offenders and utilized this in regard to school and school zones.”

The proposed ordinance also would include the Kingston Community Center. Commissioners are looking at possibly including the community centers at Island Lake and Long Lake. Those facilities may, however, already be included in the area of the public parks.

“We’re trying to narrow down whether Island Lake and Long Lake (community centers) are in need of this designation,” Forbes said.

A public hearing regarding the proposed ordinance is likely to occur within the next two months.

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