Opinion

Partnerships integral to YMCA’s move to Silverdale

DISH FROM THE COMMISH

On May 4, the Kitsap County Commissioners agreed to a long-term land lease and operating agreement to construct a new YMCA in Silverdale. These agreements pave the way to move forward with the Central Kitsap Community Campus project — with the YMCA serving as the anchor and first phase of this project.

The Central Kitsap Community Campus project located in downtown Silverdale has long been envisioned to serve as a vibrant neighborhood center providing public amenities to Silverdale and the entire county. Development of the Community Campus would be phased over time and would include a new branch of the Kitsap Regional Library, performing arts venue, senior housing, along with facilities for recreation and community programs. A “Village Commons” would serve as a central plaza, linking all the tenants of the campus while providing pedestrian connectivity.

Kitsap County has taken the lead acquiring the land and master planning the Community Campus. Additionally, we began looking at how Kitsap County could partner with nonprofits to deliver services to the public. A study was commissioned to examine ways nonprofits, such as the YMCA, could provide recreation programs throughout Kitsap County. Along with asking whether such a partnership would be effective, we sought a plan to expand programs to serve all of Kitsap County. The study was completed in August 2007 and determined Kitsap County had enormous demand for recreation programs. The analysis determined that anchoring a facility in Silverdale first made the most sense due to the fact that Silverdale is in the geographic center of Kitsap County. Over time, supporting facilities were recommended to be built in North and South Kitsap, branching out from Silverdale like spokes on a wheel, serving our entire community.

As such, the planned Silverdale YMCA would likely be 50,000-square feet and could serve nearly 15,000 people. To provide these amenities, Kitsap County has committed to a long-term land lease with the YMCA and a $1 million capital contribution to what will be a $15 million project. The YMCA would be responsible for completing the financing of this project through a combination of grants, charitable contributions and a loan to the non-profit organization. The YMCA would absorb all risk associated with construction and operating the facility when opened.

In return, the YMCA has committed to provide diverse recreation programs to kids, seniors and families. In our joint operating agreement, the YCMA is required to open its doors for free to kids on Friday nights, providing a safe place for our kids. In addition, 10 percent of the revenues from the facility would come back to the community in the form of scholarships for access to the YMCA programs to those in need.

As a comparison, the Gig Harbor YMCA project opened 30 minutes down Highway 16 in 2007. This 81,000-square-foot facility has nearly 19,000 members — 20 percent of whom are Kitsap County residents. This project serves as the model for the Silverdale project, in terms of both design and amenities. With nearly 250,000 residents, Kitsap County is the sixth most populated county in Washington state. Yet, we are unable to provide recreation programs to our diverse community. The goal with the Silverdale YMCA project is to fill this void — through an innovative public, non-profit partnership.

Now, more so than ever before, people are asking government to “think outside the box.” Re-examine past roles, seeking dynamic partnerships and establishing sustainable fiscal policies are paramount responsibilities. This year, we have begun the planning and permitting phase of this project. However, to make this project a reality, we need to formalize partnerships to move from a dream to reality. Along with the partnership agreements between Kitsap County and the YCMA, a resolution formalizing a partnership between Kitsap County and Kitsap Regional Library to develop a new library on the Campus was signed May 4.

In return, the YMCA has committed to provide diverse recreation programs to kids, seniors and families. In our joint operating agreement, the YCMA is required to open its doors for free to kids on Friday nights, providing a safe place for our community’s kids. In addition, 10 percent of the revenues from the facility would come back to the community in the form of scholarships for access to the YMCA programs to those in need.

The returns on this public investment are significant. Yet, the most powerful aspect of the YMCA is its ability to create a sense of community. Building this sense of community is what energizes me every day while serving as your county commissioner. The YMCA will not only enhance this sense of community and belonging in Central Kitsap, but will allow the vision for the Community Campus crafted by residents to finally become reality.

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