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NKREC partners commit to make it happen

POULSBO — A North Kitsap Regional Events Center could be a testament to the power of unification if and when it crosses the finish line several years down the road.

Substantial steps toward its creation were taken April 11 when the project’s four partnering boards — the Poulsbo City Council, the Kitsap Board of County Commissioners, the Kitsap Public Facilities District and the North Kitsap School District — each committed to come up with as much money as possible to get the project rolling.

The combined boards meeting was somewhat of a ceremonial close to the project’s master planning phase that has spanned nearly a full year. It was also an opportunity for the individual boards to highlight the projects they are currently undertaking as well as plans that are in the making.

“We’re really at a turning point where we have a great drawing, a lot of potential and nothing further than that,” said Poulsbo’s Public Facilities District representative Linda Berry-Maraist. “How are we going to work together to make this project happen?”

The PFD has committed $900,000 toward the implementation phase of the NKREC on the condition that those funds are matched with a combined effort from the other partners. But with a flurry of projects being driven by the city, the county and the school district throughout the North End, money is tight.

In order for the project to move forward, creative financing and collaborative planning will be vital, the partners agree.

“For (implementation) to happen, we all have to agree that we want to work together, we all have to agree that we’re going to invest,” said Kitsap County Commissioner Chris Endresen as the session segued into a discussion about the details of the NKREC. “We need to make that commitment, then we can work out the details.”

“The match is what it’s all about. If that doesn’t happen, none of this does,” NKSD board director Dan Delaney added.

Marking another milestone for the partnership, representatives from each board verbally committed to going back to their respective boards as a whole and surveying what amounts they will be able to contribute for matching funds.

“For the city, we don’t have a magic pot of money that we can pull from, (neither does) the school district,” Mayor Kathryn Quade said. She said that the city’s budgeting process is approaching in early summer, and Councilman Ed Stern added that he believed the council would have no problem putting in a proposal for $300,000 to contribute to the NKREC.

However, the question is whether the city will be able to reach that amount in the first year or if it will be a continuous flow over two or three, Stern said.

While the school district didn’t talk dollars and cents at the April 11 NKREC meeting, a projected budget presentation at a school board meeting April 12 suggested that $300,000 may be out of reach, given the focus of school districts.

Of the NKSD’s yearly budget about 80 percent pays for staff and 17 percent pays for materials. That means there is roughly 3 percent of the budget that has discretionary possibilities, said NKSD finance and operations director Nancy Moffatt.

The county was committed but quiet during the funding discuss.

“We all want this to happen, but we’re all strapped for money,” said NKSD supt. Gene Medina, adding that perhaps the PFD could hold off a chunk of its initial dollars and look for an easier match of $500,000, which would still provide for one of the NKREC’s top priorities — synthetically turfing the NKHS stadium field.

Better utilized and additional athletic field space in the North End is the main focus of the first phase of NKREC implementation but this may change.

In addition to the NKREC, four other projects in the works are aiming to bring resolve to North Kitsap’s field shortage issues.

The county’s master plan for Heritage Park aims to provide three sports fields with synthetic turf as well as two baseball diamonds with an estimated completion period of fall 2007. The school district’s new Kingston High School campus will also feature a synthetically turfed field along with two baseball diamonds estimated to be finished in fall 2007.

The city is in the early stages of adding two grass sports fields at the Olhava development and the Poulsbo City Council also recently approved a building contract for The Sports Zone complex, which will feature an indoor soccer field, baseball infield and batting cages.

“How do we mesh the (NKREC) plans with all these other ideas and make sure we are using public money effectively and efficiently?” PFD administrator Anne Blair asked the group.

The consensus of the boards was that a smaller committee, utilizing representatives from each partner, needs to be formed that will work through the details of priorities, user agreements and funding options.

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