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Community puts forth input on Old Man House
SUQUAMISH Despite the efforts of the various community groups, attitudes have not changed much as to who should get Old Man House State Park.
Opinions expressed at the Suquamish Tribes community meeting on the park Nov. 13 were strongly in favor of either the tribe attaining the property or the state retaining the land. There was virtually no middle ground.
Nearly 100 people attended Thursdays follow-up meeting to the tribes September workshop on developing a management plan for the park. Both the Suquamish and a citizens group called the Friends of the Old Man House Park are vying for ownership or management rights of the park.
Washington State Parks and Recreation announced earlier this year that it wants to put several of its smaller parks in the hands of local jurisdictions.
The citizens group is asking Washington State not to sell the land, but rather to let the Friends group assist it in maintaining the grounds. The Friends request has been put on hold until the tribes proposal has been submitted, said Al Wolslegel, Director of the Puget Sound Region for Washington State Parks and Recreation Commission.
We just want to take our time and make sure everyone gets a chance to get their input and make their comments, he said.
The tribe provided the community that opportunity as it presented the draft management plan for the park. The plan outlines how the tribe would manage the park if it obtains ownership. It was created using information and suggestions from more than 300 surveys, 450 comments and the states parks regulations.
Tribal goals for the park include making sure it stays open to the public. The Suquamish Tribe has also set aside $50,000 for park management and maintenance for five years. No alcohol, fireworks, or drugs will be permitted.
Dave McMullen, co-chair of the planning committee, said residents were primarily concerned with access, maintenance, security contacts and rules and regulations.
Tribal Executive Director Wayne George said he believes the access to the park is important for everyone.
I think we all need (the park) and access to it, George said, noting that he would make sure the plan was followed.
There is already staff assigned to maintain the park, George said, adding that security for the park is detailed in the plan.
However, there are some that are still not convinced the tribe is the best owner of the nearly one-acre property.
Friends member Julia Smith said most of her concerns regarding the park include the park hours and fears it could be closed down at anytime. She also said she feels that the plan is just the effort of one group.
Its all up to the tribe on what they want to do. There is no real community involvement at all, she said. I would really like to see it be a much more collaborative effort.
Smith said the tribe has been invited to the Friends meetings, but the tribe hasnt responded to the groups attempts either.
Friends member Gloria Pomtier lives across the street from the park and is adamant about the park staying in the states hands.
I am totally against the Indians taking over the park, said the 25-year resident of the community. Because the white people and residents in the neighborhood will have no say in what happens down there. They made a lot of suggestions here but we have no way of holding them to their promises.
But Suquamish resident Bruce Carter said he feels the property belongs in the hands of the tribe. He added that the effort was also a starting point for bringing the native and non-native communities together.
A lot of it is fear and just the unknown, Carter said. This is groundbreaking and I think this has to be a start.
The groups have done their research, he said, as evidenced by the draft plan committee and inclusion of states park requirements.
They really want to be involved with the community, Carter observed about the tribes actions. Its not just Indian nation, they really want to come together with the community.
Poulsbo residents Terry and Susan Burns agreed that the park should be returned to the tribe, too.
It belongs to them, Terry Burns said. I think they will maintain it as a park. They will take good care of it.
Susan Burns said the tribes plan addresses everything needed to manage the property.
I think they have it all covered, she said.
Its important to the tribe its for the future as well as the past, Terry added.
The draft management plan can be found Online at Suquamish Olalla Neighbors Web Site, www.soneighbors.org.