Stillwaters eyeing small expansion

KINGSTON — The purchase of an acre of woodland could allow Stillwaters Environmental Education Center to open a long-unused building to the public.

A house mover relocated the two-story “treehouse” building to Stillwaters in 2004, after it was donated by American Marine Bank.

The non-profit education center planned to use the treehouse for classes and library space. Those plans have been stalled because the center doesn’t have the fire lane and traffic turnaround it needs to open the building to the public and space is tight on its campus.

Its current driveway has a narrow entrance on Barber Cut Off Road and dead-ends in a small dirt parking lot.

“Our parking is really cramped,” Stillwaters Executive Director Naomi Maasberg said. “When you get a large truck down here, it’s a small nightmare.”

That could change this summer as a neighboring landowner has offered Stillwaters the chance to buy a one-acre sliver of woodland between the Stillwaters campus and Barber Cut Off Road. Stillwaters could use the property to extend its driveway and create a separate exit onto Barber Cut Off Road.

Maasberg said Stillwaters needs to raise $25,000 over the summer to put a down payment on the property. A total of $250,000 will be needed to buy the land outright and pay for construction of the new driveway.

The new lane will be surfaced with pervious pavement, and several new parking spots will be tucked into the trees. The work could begin this fall, and will be completed as donations come in, Maasberg said.

Once the new driveway is done, Stillwaters can apply for a conditional use permit from Kitsap County to open the treehouse building to the public.

Stillwaters staff have been using the treehouse for storage. With a permit in hand it can be remodeled to include space for meetings, classes, a kitchen and a small library. The upstairs would house a caretaker’s apartment.

“For now we just want to get it useable,” Maasberg said.

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