Opinion

New traffic signal, potential SKIA annexation on agenda

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DISH FROM THE COMMISH

New signal coming to Silverdale Way

This past year, Kitsap County made significant improvements to pedestrian safety by completing traffic signal projects on Bucklin Hill Road. Many residents remember how hard it was to cross Bucklin Hill prior to the signal installation. The signals greatly improved the pedestrian access for all residents, particularly those who enjoy our Clear Creek Trail.

Kitsap County will be breaking ground on a new signal this summer at the intersection of Silverdale Way and Anderson Hill Road. This project will provide enhanced pedestrian access to Old Town Silverdale and Linder Field from CK High School. Our Board of County Commissioners will consider a resolution during Monday’s meeting to finalize a contract to ensure this project moves forward.

SKIA annexation issues

The South Kitsap Industrial Area (SKIA) is an unincorporated urban growth area (UGA) comprised of roughly 3,400 acres. SKIA encompasses properties that are owned by the Port of Bremerton and private property owners along the Highway 16 corridor. The goal of SKIA has been to attract employers to Kitsap County to diversify our economic base. Next week, our Kitsap County Board of Commissioners will meet with the city of Bremerton, city of Port Orchard and Port of Bremerton to discuss the possibility that the city of Bremerton annexes this large area.

Under the Growth Management Act, Kitsap County must plan to accommodate the expected number of residents and businesses that are anticipated over a 20- year growth horizon. In 2006, Kitsap County added approximately 120 acres to the Silverdale UGA for jobs. To accomplish this rezone, Kitsap County had to provide analysis to demonstrate this land was needed to accommodate expected growth. If SKIA and its 3,400 acres were to be annexed by a city, the county’s ability to rezone land could be severely hampered in the future.

Today, roughly 90 percent of all of the land in Kitsap County zoned for jobs is located in SKIA. All of our “eggs” are in one basket when it comes to bringing desired economic growth to our community. As our county reviews this potential annexation, we should focus on two key questions. (1) How may Kitsap County be restricted in the future from rezoning land in other parts of our community for jobs? (2) Is SKIA the best strategy to bring employers to Kitsap County?

Kitsap County over the past year has enhanced our collaboration with all of our cities. We look forward to discussing this important issue with the various jurisdictions next week. We share a common goal — to bring good paying jobs to Kitsap County in order to keep the quality of our community strong. The annexation of SKIA has the possibility of hindering our ability to rezone land for jobs in the future. The wise course for all parties involved is to commit to a thorough analysis of the situation. The future health of our community depends upon it.

Prescription drug discount card program

Kitsap County recently announced its intention to participate with the NACo Prescription Discount Card program designed to help county residents cope with the rising costs of prescription drugs. The card will be free to all residents regardless of age, health and socioeconomic status under a program sponsored by the National Association of Counties (NACo) in partnership with CVS/Caremark Inc.

There are currently more than 59,000 retail pharmacies participating nationwide and Kitsap County is currently working to incorporate several local independent pharmacies. Residents of many counties nationwide already participating in the program have saved an average of 20 percent off the retail price of each prescription. Savings are only available at participating pharmacies.

This program will be offered at no cost to the county, taxpayers or consumers. There are no enrollment fees or required forms for participants. The program is open to all residents regardless of insurance coverage or Medicare participation.

It is currently estimated that cards will be available for disbursement by early summer. Further information on distribution sites and participating pharmacies will be announced as it becomes available.

County residents can e-mail Gay Neal, Kitsap County Department of Personnel & Human Resources, at gneal@co.kitsap.wa.us or visit www.nacoadvancerx.com for further information about the program.

Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown appears the second Saturday of the month in the CK Reporter.

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