Opinion

DISH FROM THE COMMISH Newberry Hill Heritage Park becoming reality

Earlier this year, Kitsap County completed a land swap with the Department of Natural Resources to bring us a giant step closer to acquiring 1,000 acres for the Newberry Hill Heritage Park. While one final parcel has yet to be re-conveyed to Kitsap County from DNR, the County Commissioners directed staff to draft a master plan effort for review. We received a briefing a couple weeks ago and took the draft plan to the Central Kitsap Community Council for feedback. At that meeting, we heard a lot of good ideas on how we could use this master planning effort to break the mold on how Kitsap County engages the community on parks projects.

In the past, staff or planning firms were retained to guide a public process over the course of a year. While this process was good at gathering public feedback and providing solid direction for the park, the final product — a master plan document — was only as good as the resources set aside to implement the plan. If resources are available to move forward with amenities, the master plan is destined to gather dust on a shelf.

In addition, master plans are done with a long-term vision of maybe 10, 20 or even 50 years. Yet, when people attend open houses to show their support for a new ball field, skate park or any other park amenity, it is with the expectation the project will happen in the short-term. This inconsistency can be frustrating.

A diverse group consisting of members of the Newberry Hill Heritage Park Stewardship Committee, Central Kitsap Community Council and Parks Advisory Board are providing input to the Board of County Commissioners to craft a new approach to the master planning effort. In lieu of a process designed around the goal of generating a document, the goal of this master planning effort is to create partnerships to implement the vision of the park.

By focusing on implementation and creating collaboration to build trails and other park amenities, this master planning process wouldn’t just end abruptly. Instead, the challenge is to create a seamless transition between the planning elements and implementation.

The Clear Creek Trail Task Force and Illahee Preserve are two models of volunteers and communities creating amenities that would never have occurred with just government resources. Our desire is to make the Newberry Hill Heritage Park a model for encouraging such partnerships to enhance quality of life in our community.

Food and Farm Policy Council seeking applicants

On Sept. 28, the Kitsap County Commissioners formally adopted a resolution establishing a Food and Farm Policy Council. This 15-member body is being formed to foster partnerships between communities, businesses, agriculture and governments to support the “local” food economy.

The Kitsap Economic Development Alliance’s (KEDA) Agriculture Working Group encouraged the formation of a Food and Farm Policy Council to assist local food production and distribution efforts. Nearly $1 billion is spent on food in Kitsap County by residents every year. Yet, the market share by local farmers is less than 1 percent. This is a critical fact because we know every dollar that is directed at local businesses — whether buying food grown locally or simply dining out at a locally owned restaurant that relies on Kitsap products — provides a greater impact on our local economy. In a recession, spending money locally ensures the economic impact is felt in our community instead of elsewhere.

Today, food and farm policy councils exist in more than 70 communities around the country. The establishment of this council will leverage the knowledge and skills of local volunteers — allowing Kitsap County to be much more effective than if it were pursued just as a government entity. Kitsap County is currently recruiting members for this board, which will have balanced representation across the county and will include individuals with backgrounds as local farmers and food produces, food distributors and local groups with “buy local” or sustainability insights.

An application and position description may be obtained from Kitsap County Volunteer Services Coordinator Jan Koske at (360) 337-4650 or jkoske@co.kitsap.wa.us. An application also can be completed online at www.kitsapgov.com/volunteer/frmbrdapp.htm. Applications should be submitted no later than Oct. 30.

Auto Swap Meet coming soon to the Fairgrounds

The Olympic Vintage Auto Club is hosting the 41st Annual Auto Swap Meet at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds Nov. 7 and 8. The event will be held inside the Pavilion on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

From its humble beginnings in the parking lot of the Sheridan Community Center, the Swap Meet has grown to be one of the largest automotive events in the county. This event draws thousands of buyers and car buffs from all over the Northwest and vendors from as far away as Wisconsin. Along with the many Auto events, the club supports a number of local charities and automotive-related scholarships.

For more information about the Olympic Vintage Auto Club, visit www.OVAC.us.

Josh Brown is the Central Kitsap commissioner.

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