It's pro v. con for Port of Poulsbo park plan

POULSBO - The fate of one beloved Poulsbo park remains in the balance after a community meeting Thursday night.

The port commissioners hosted the meeting, which made an impromptu move from the Port of Poulsbo's multipurpose room to the Sons of Norway hall to accommodate its more than 30 attendees. The meeting was set to address just one question: should the city deed or long-term lease Net Shed Vista to the port?

The question for many revolved around a possible shore connection the port has in planning stages. In conjunction with a 15.8-acre harbor line expansion and new floating breakwater - plans already approved by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) - the port commissioners hope to install a walkway spanning from the new breakwater to Net Shed Vista.

Port commissioners said the shore connection would increase the size of the park fourfold and would allow local tax paying residents who don't own boats to experience being on Liberty Bay.

Having control of those uplands would also save them thousands of dollars each year by lessening a payment made to the DNR.

The port would take over maintenace of the park from the city.

Net Shed Vista is located just south of downtown Poulsbo along Fjord Drive. Currently it contains a table and benches and is about .84-acres in size.

Unlike the tone of previous meetings on the topic, Thursday night's was a nearly balanced one, as the number of those speaking against the plan was closely matched by those in favor of it.

Those on board with the port's idea said the walk from Net Shed Vista to downtown will be a pleasant jaunt for incoming boaters. They'd like to see kids fishing off the installed connection, as well as improvements to the park once the port is providing maintenance.

"I think it would be wonderful to have access (to the bay)," said resident Mercer St. Peter.

Former port commissioner Manny Xenos applauded the proposed addition to the port. He said the port is one of the most significant facets of the downtown community.

"I would say yes," he said. "It's for the good of the community."

Those against the plan, many of whom live near Net Shed Vista, called it a poor use of funds, and said the walk from Net Shed Vista to downtown is longer than most want to make.

Fjord Drive was cited as being too narrow and dangerous for large groups of pedestrians. Because its only sidewalk is located across the street from the park, it would require at least the addition of a crosswalk.

A few mentioned the possibility of connecting the new breakwater to D Dock, which would allow incoming passengers more direct access to downtown. The port said that idea is also being considered.

Former Mayor Donna Jean Bruce said the park situated in a residential neighborhood blocks from downtown and built on fill, thus costly to develop, but it is also at the location of the city's old sewer plant.

"I'm sure that that site's going to have to be cleaned up, and clean up isn't cheap — it's very, very costly," she said.

Nearby resident Chrystal Couch said the shore connection would "create a hostile living environment on Fjord Drive."

Many expressed worries the shore connection would bring in large, commercial ships, only to have dozens of passengers unloaded in their neighborhood.

Port commissioners said the connection isn't mean to cater only to large crafts. Commercial ship visits to the port would not occur regularly, they said.

After the meeting, Port Manager Kirk Stickels said he was going to follow up on the issue of sewer site clean up.

The port will take comments made by citizens to the Poulsbo City Council, which will decide the fate of the park. That meeting has yet to be scheduled.

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