Speak Out focuses on solutions not stereotypes

POULSBO — Icy flakes fell outside as people participated in what a few people claimed to be the county’s own snow job and others said was paramount to finding a solution.

The North Kitsap session of Speak Out — one of three countywide meetings to gather input on how best to balance man’s progress with preserving nature’s resources — was held Wednesday at North Kitsap High School.

“We want to hear from you,” said Chris Endresen, Kitsap County commissioner, district 1. Everyone at the event had the opportunity to speak on issues. About 30 people got up in front of the crowd of approximately 100 people and issued some perceived problems and solutions.

An independent third party moderated the discussion.

While forum participants were asked to focus on water — watersheds, stormwater runoff and water conservation — other topics were inevitably tangled in.

“Let the salmon drive the solution. If we’re successful the salmon will tell us,” said Paul Dorn, salmon enhancement manager for the Suquamish Tribe.

Factions from both sides of the Kitsap County coin had displays at the informational fair type event and got up to the microphone.

Joan Gorner of Poulsbo said the county has rushed head first into protecting fish without concrete information.

“I would make sure I had very good science before taking rights from property owners,” she said.

Groups such as the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners, Department of Fish and Wildlife, Stillwaters Environmental Education Center and Kitsap County Department of Community Development filled the high school’s commons with display boards.

They also had plenty to say. The forum, initially scheduled for an hour ran about 45 minutes longer.

“We live in a bowl, we live in kind of a sink,” said long time Kingston resident Tom Waggoner about his community. He asked county staff to consider financing and building retaining ponds for the area.

Art Schick, a Kitsap County resident since 1941, said he was nervous about his county’s future.

“I don’t think we’ll have any resources left to worry about,” he said.

As they came in the door, Speak Out attendees were asked to watch a 10-minute video, which focused on the water cycle and touched on some of the concerns. They then browsed through a maze of statistics, information and talked with county staff. The discussion followed.

Audience members suggested the county look at property development on a case by case basis and suggest mitigation if needed. Others supported the Smart Growth movement.

The comments, Endresen said will be compiled and a report will be made. The second series of Speak Out meetings slated for May or June will focus on possible answers to the concerns.

A second Speak Out is scheduled today from 9 a.m. to noon at Central Kitsap High School, and a third from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday at South Kitsap High School.

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