Opinion

Newberry Hill Heritage Park would benefit everyone

The urban sprawl that surrounds Silverdale continues to spread as the community’s population continues to increase.

Just as development is vital to a growing community, so is maintaining green space where local residents can escape from the urban hustle and bustle. A place where people can reconnect with nature without the sounds of cars whizzing by, construction equipment blaring and other noise is a vital aspect of any community.

The Newberry Hill Heritage Park is still in its infancy in terms of public awareness, but plans have been well underway to introduce a new park to the people of Central Kitsap.

The proposal is for the county to swap a portion of land in the Chico Creek Watershed for a nearby parcel owned by the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The trade would add to the approximately 300 acres already owned by the county and would equal about 1,000 acres which would become the Newberry Hill Heritage Park.

“It’s west of Klahowya (Secondary School) outside of the Urban Growth Area, but it’s certainly in an area of Central Kitsap that we’ve seen a lot of growth,” said Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown at Wednesday’s Central Kitsap Community Council meeting.

The trade with DNR is not expected to be complete until spring 2008, but the county is currently working toward making it a reality. It’s good news, seeing as land acquisition can often be a long-drawn-out process.

With the county’s current budget woes, there’s a better chance this project will come to fruition under the terms of a trade rather than a purchase. If the DNR land came with a price tag, Central Kitsap might never see the proposed heritage park.

What better plan than to swap land with an organization that ensures the management of natural resources? It’s an ideal location in Central Kitsap which would be easily accessible to local residents. With Klahowya nearby, the park could serve as a prime outdoor classroom for local students. They could learn about the environment without having to travel too far from the school.

Like many local parks, Newberry Hill Heritage Park would need the help of volunteers which doesn’t seem too far-fetched, seeing as local residents have a good track record of supporting the community. The county also doesn’t seem too worried about residents coming together in support of the project.

“What’s really great about Central Kitsap is we’ve been great about developing stewardships to manage county parks,” Brown said.

The Newberry Hill Heritage Park would preserve 1,000 acres of open space and would provide a terrific opportunity for local residents to explore the great outdoors.

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