Fish Park planning swims ahead with public OK

POULSBO — The public got its first say in how the next park to be developed in Little Norway will look.

And generally, they liked the direction the Fish Park Steering Committee has pointed its sails.

About 30 community members showed up Monday night for a Fish Park open house held by the City of Poulsbo’s Parks and Recreation Commission. The event was a chance to hear from Seattle’s Makers, an architecture and urban design company that was hired in October 2003 to create the park’s first master plan.

Fish Park, as it is known today, is a 13.36-acre site near the Lindvig Bridge that was purchased by the City of Poulsbo in July 2002. The aim with the purchase of the former commercial land was to create an environmentally-friendly park at the headwaters of Liberty Bay. It is with this in mind that Makers has moved forward in drafting two “bubble concepts” that were presented at the April 26 open house.

“We’re really pleased to be here, this is really a dream project for us,” commented John Owens, a partner with Makers.

Alternative A, which seemed to be the preferred view among attendees Monday, has a small 20-space parking lot at the south end of the park near Lindvig and a larger 40-space parking area at the north end closer to State Route 305. Buildings are primarily clustered to the north and trails are contiguous along the wetlands with overlook points that are very close to natural areas.

Alternative B calls for a 25-space parking area at the south end and pedestrian access from the north end. Buildings are scattered throughout the south end of the site and the north end is much more primitive. Trails follow a similar pattern to Alternative A but are more buffered from the wetlands for less human contact with the natural areas.

Both alternatives have a heavy emphasis on the natural environment, especially the wetlands that are already present on the site.

“There’s so many streams that are coming across the site,” said Jim Brennan of Makers. “That’s really a great thing on this site — all this water.”

And while some community members in attendance questioned whether Alternative B’s trail system was more ecologically-friendly, Amy Myers, a wetland/wildlife biologist for Makers, said both are safe for wildlife.

“Generally speaking, the alternatives are identical in terms of environmental impact and preservation,” Myers explained. “The differences, biologically speaking, are pretty minor and focus mostly on how many and where the stream crossings are.”

Group consensus from the open house was along the lines of Alternative A. Community members especially liked having less parking off the often-congested Lindvig Way and having the buildings clustered for easier use and security.

Overall, community members praised Fish Park’s environmental components and minimal development. Whatever alternative is chosen, many said they simply liked the outlook for the future of the former fallow ground.

“With this park, we’re beginning to see an explanation of how all the pieces fit together and work together — the trees, the birds, even the things rotting in the mud,” said John Williams of Suquamish, one of the Poulsbo Marine Science Center Board members in attendance Monday. “Everyone’s concerned with having it simple and passive and people seem to understand that and are behind it. I like that.”

Makers will next look at the feedback from Monday’s open house and try to come up with a proposal for the Fish Park Steering Committee’s #May 20 meeting. The information is also planned to be linked to the Poulsbo City Web site and Makers will make a formal presentation to the full city council at a later date, possibly as early as June.

Fish Park Steering Committee Chair Tom Nordlie said he liked the direction the process is moving.

“I thought it was pretty interesting,” he said. “It was nice to have some community participation and I think we got some good feedback that the architects will be able to take back and use.”

Though the park’s master plan could be completed as early as this summer, implementation of the proposals may be slow going.

“A lot of the activities aren’t going to happen right away,” Owens explained. “It’s going to be something that’s incremental. It’s going to be bootstrap and it’s going to be a real grassroots effort.”

Makers representatives will be giving the City of Poulsbo some direction on how to apply for grant funding for things like interpretive centers and buildings. Nordlie said he’s not concerned about how quickly those things appear on the site, but rather how soon the public can start utilizing it for passive recreation activities.

“Right now, we need to focus on trails and things that encourage community participation and encourage (the) community to come over right now to get a before-and-after view of it,” Nordlie said. “The more people get down there, the more people will embrace what’s going on.”

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