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Public will get to weigh in on fate of Heritage Park

KINGSTON — The issue isn’t whether there should be a Heritage Park in the North End, but where it should be developed.

The Kitsap County Parks staff is allowing the residents of North Kitsap to state their opinions on possible sites for a 300-plus acre park.

Typically, the public is not allowed to participate in discussions concerning county property acquisitions, said Kitsap County Parks Planner Rick Fackler. But because of the strong interest in developing open spaces and trails, the county decided to make an exception, he explained.

The first public meeting was held June 19 at North Kitsap Fire & Rescue headquarters on Miller Bay Road, where 25 residents from Driftwood to Keyport, showed up to speak.

Fackler said the Heritage Park concept is part of the county’s Comprehensive Park, Recreation and Open Space Plan. The plan calls for a large site, at least 300 acres in size, to be established in each of the north, south and central portions of Kitsap. The parks will be developed for open space, passive and active recreation uses, and to preserve sensitive environmental areas.

The county recently earmarked $2 million to purchase land in North Kitsap for this park concept by issuing bonds against the Conservation Futures revenues.

Fackler pointed out six sites that the county is considering: a 3,600-acre parcel owned by Olympic Property Group located southeast of Port Gamble; a 1,500-acre site near Buck Lake and the Hansville Greenway Trails; a 640-acre site in Eglon owned by Department of Natural Resources; a 390-acre parcel of land between 288th Street and Hansville Road near the Little Boston Indian Reservation, also owned by DNR; a 640-acre site west of Miller Bay Road owned by OPG; and 1,100 acres in South Kingston that is part of what is commonly known as Arborwood, which is also owned by OPG.

Sites considered will be rated by the staff based on detailed criteria, such as proximity to neighborhood population, opportunity for expansion, public support, scenic value and accessibility.

Across the board, citizens supported three sites — the 3,600 acres near Port Gamble, the South Kingston site and the 390 acres near the Little Boston Indian Reservation.

The 3,600-acre site was supported because of its proximity to North End residents as well as its size, some Poulsbo residents said.

“If I lived in Kingston I’d want Arborwood, too,” said Poulsbo resident Joan Gorner, but noted that the 3,600-acre site is also accessible to Poulsbo residents since it is right off Highway 3.

Charles Turner of Kingston was not in support of the largest parcel of the bunch because of how much it has been logged by the Pope Resources.

“I walk that all the time and it has been devastated by clearcutting,” Turner said. “That is not a piece of property I would think the (county) would want for a park.”

Instead, Turner supported the use of the 390 acres off Hansville Road because of its old growth timber, wetlands and salmon streams.

But Phil Dorn, an employee of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, which is working with the state to acquire that property, said that portion was too environmentally sensitive to build and develop for active recreation.

“I don’t know where you’d put your ballfields,” Dorn said. “It’s a sensitive area.”

The only area that could be developed would be on the corner of Little Boston and Hansville Roads, the northern-most boundary of the property, Dorn explained, because of the commercial development that is already there.

The South Kingston site was strongly supported, mainly because of its proximity to the currently developing urban area of Kingston; the accessibility by several main roads, including West and South Kingston Roads and Miller Bay Road; its relationship to the ongoing development of a North End hiking/trail system; and its proximity to the proposed Kingston High School site on a neighboring parcel of land.

“The Arborwood property is quite accessible for all places in the North End,” observed Ken Shawcroft of Hansville. “It’s a direct shot from Hansville, Miller Bay, Indianola, Suquamish and even from Poulsbo and Keyport. (Miller Bay Road) would need improvement but the location and roads to get there is accessible.”

The next public meeting will be 7-9 p.m. June 30 at the North Kitsap School District’s boardroom in Poulsbo, next to Raab Park. North Kitsap Commissioner Chris Endresen will be on hand to hear testimony from the public on preferred sites.

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