Will the Vikings keep off the grass?

POULSBO — Councilman Mike Regis ventured onto quicksand Wednesday night as he asked fellow council members and Mayor Kathryn Quade to reconsider an earlier decision on the use of Waterfront Park this summer.

At the April 11 city council community services committee meeting, Councilman Ed Stern along with councilwomen Connie Lord and Kimberlee Crowder agreed with Quade’s recommendation to keep as much activity as possible off the new grass planted as part of winter improvements to the park.

Even though John Lee, who was the foreman of the project wasn’t at that meeting, he chimed in with his own assessment after a vigorous council debate.

“It’s still very spongy, and there are a lot of soft soils,” Lee said.

Much of the soil was dredged up from Liberty Bay, and it will take at least one year for it to solidify, he said.

“If you get 50,000 people on it, it will be a quagmire,” Lee said. “Those soils are very unstable.”

“I just can’t feel comfortable having (the Viking Village) camp on the new grass,” Quade told Viking Fest secretary Kathi Foresee at the April 11 meeting. “The grass is a priority.”

Because of that, the committee asked that the village be relocated to American Legion Park, which is just across the boardwalk from Waterfront Park.

Regis said he initially concurred with that decision, but after making the trek from Waterfront Park to American Legion Park, he had a change of heart.

“The boardwalk is great,” he said. “The asphalt trail, however, is horrendous because of all the roots.”

Those roots protruding through the asphalt make the trail almost impassable for wheelchairs and strollers, he said.

In the time period between Viking Fest and the Third of July there are only eight days when large crowds are expected in the park, so the city should be able to minimize the damage to the grass without restricting the public’s use, he said.

“How are we going to keep them off the grass?” he asked. “It’s ultimately the people’s park, and they expect to use it.”

The Viking Village would actually limit the number of people tromping through the grass and the tents would be in place for a maximum of three days, he said.

“We could have public works crews on-hand to monitor it and keep it in shape,” Regis said.

His suggestion brought an immediate rebuke from Quade, who reiterated her belief that the newly planted grass needs time to establish itself this summer, so it will be in great shape for years to come.

“We’re not going to be able to keep everyone off the grass,” she said. “I talked to public works director (Jeff) Bauman about putting up caution tape.”

Even though the city may not be entirely successful in those efforts, the impacts should be far less than having tents or other equipment staged on the new greenery, she said.

“I think our city engineer Andrzej Kasiniak said we could allow people to use it and underwrite the cost of reseeding it in the fall,” Quade said.

Reseeding the park would cost about $6,000, which would require a budget adjustment or reallocation of funds to pay the bill, Bauman said.

“I think we’re just going to have to watch it and be careful,” Councilman Jeff McGinty said, recalling his own attempts to seed his yard and the challenges involved.

The issue will be discussed at the May 9 city council community services committee meeting at 4 p.m. in the Planning Department conference room on Jensen Way.

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