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County OKs draft for parks, open space

PORT ORCHARD — The Kitsap County commissioners approved a draft version of the county’s parks, recreation and open space plan at their regular meeting on Monday, clearing the way for its submission to the state by the July 3 deadline.

“This provides a plan for acquisition of public land and how it should be used,” said consultant Rick Fackler, who has helped to supervise the process since it began earlier this year. “This is not a policy document. But it is a relatively concise inventory of facilities and an analysis of the goals and objectives land acquisition and development.”

The final draft, dated June 7, came after a series of public meetings, community presentations and advisory hearings. Other elements included a poll of the public and meetings with various sports groups to determine what they wanted from the plan.

The deadline, already extended once, must be met if the county seeks eligibility for certain state grants. The county has received $2 million for each of the past few years through such grants.

The draft was presented to the commissioners for immediate approval on Monday, not giving them a lot of time to examine the details prior to submission to the state. They could have postponed the decision a few days, but decided to go ahead with the approval after assurances that certain tweaks would be allowed at a later date.

This was not enough of a safety net, according to some observers.

“Once again, the people have been shortchanged,” said Kitsap Alliance for Property Owners executive director Vivian Henderson. “There should have been a public meeting where we discussed and shared all the findings. (Former Parks, Facilities and Recreation director) Mark Mauren did an outstanding job helping the public take ownership of the situation. When he got fired, so did the public.”

Mauren’s departure after five months on the job was officially noted as voluntary. Henderson’s repeated characterization of his “firing” was not contested by any of the commissioners or attending staff.

Karl Duff, of Port Orchard, submitted a letter protesting this accelerated process on principle.

“We are about to hear yet again that we must proceed without a true public process because someone in Olympia says we will lose grant funding,” Duff wrote. “This old saw is not getting much mileage anymore. We need either to improve the process, or give up on grant funding and stop prostituting ourselves to non elected bureaucrats.”

“We seem to have recurring problem with this,” said Kitsap Association of Realtors spokesman Mike Eliason. “There needs to be a little more time for the commissioners to make a decision on these issues.”

The plan contains a series of local statistics about to park usage, maps and spreadsheet views of the county’s recreation-based holdings. Population density, trail locations and sports facilities are among the categories.

The plan is available on the Kitsap County website (www.kitsapgov.com). For a printed copy of the plan contact Carly Siems, (360) 337-4691.

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