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Public comment begins for high school site plan

KINGSTON — As the North Kitsap School District prepares its site plan for the Kingston High School for environmental review, several North End residents still have concerns about that plan.

On Monday night, they got to state them for the record.

The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) review meeting, which allows individuals or organizations to state comments, questions or concerns about the district’s site plan, was held that evening in the Kingston Junior High commons.

While several of those who spoke were familiar to anyone following the process, questions about the district’s site plan brought out some new faces as well.

Kingston resident Chuck Veilleux, a teacher and parent who has two children who will eventually attend the new school, apologized for not attending earlier meetings, but said that concerns about the site’s utility finally brought him to this one.

He referred several times to the district’s plot of land intended for the site, which includes wetlands areas on which the district is not allowed to build.

The 800-student school will eventually be expanded to hold 1,200 and athletic fields are being planned around the wetlands in the middle and to the west of the site.

“I think you’re selling the community short because of a bad purchase deal,” said Veilleux.

Later, Veilleux said he believes the district is working hard to best utilize the site, but believes it should reconsider what it’s doing.

“We have a piece of property that isn’t functional. Why can’t we get out of it?” Veilleux asked. “Without being rude about it, we’re picking the least of evils.”

Veilleux was one of about a half-dozen people who spoke at the meeting.

Some spoke about only one concern, while others listed several.

Terry Benish asked the district to test for contaminants at the site, which was formerly a Nike missile testing site; Mary Anderson, a neighbor to the site, listed several concerns, which included the safety of the children because of the Nike site and fumes from the bus barn, which is also on the property; the adequacy of the buffer between the school and neighbors; and the impact the work may have on neighbors’ wetlands. Anderson said she and her husband didn’t want to see their home — or the environment around it — disturbed.

“We worked long and hard in our lifetime for our dream home in a natural setting,” she said.

District officials were present at the meeting, but did not respond during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Afterward, several of them responded to questions.

Answering a question about why the district bought the land with wetlands on it, Robin Shoemaker, director of capital programs said, “The school district was aware that there were wetlands on the site... there was optimism that the interior wetland would provide more utility than it did.”

While several public comments were taken at the meeting, the public comment period won’t end until 5 p.m. June 30. Comments can now be submitted in written form. (See box.)

The draft will then be submitted to various government and environmental agencies.

The EIS draft includes several options for the site plan — the layout of the fields, the buildings and trails — but does not include actual design of the buildings or fields, which will happen later.

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