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County has eye out for park partners

KINGSTON — While Kitsap County recently purchased 426 acres of open space from Olympic Resource Management for a North Kitsap Heritage Park, it now wants input on facilities from future parks users and an idea of how they could help financially support the effort.

“We’ve got the land, got the cash, this beautiful design, we need the partners to pull this off,” said Director of Facilities, Parks and Recreation Cris Gears during a meeting with representatives from area sports organizations and residents June 7.

Kitsap County and ORM closed the $1.9 million deal June 4. Besides acquiring 426 acres, the county also has the option to purchase an adjacent 360-acre parcel by July 2008. Funding for the $1.9 million property came from the county’s Conservation Future Funds. However, that money is earmarked for land acquisition and cannot be used for development.

While the county has budgeted approximately $3 million in its six-year Capital Facilities Improvement Plan to invest in this property, Heritage is a $10 million park, Gears said. The first phase — to develop an access road from Miller Bay Road into the park, install utilities and grade about three ballfields — will cost $3 million alone, said project Manager Dennis Oost said.

And it will take more than a few bake sales to help fund the construction of the active areas, which may include six regulation-size ball diamonds, five T-ball/little league fields, six soccer fields and three parking lots.

“As great as it would be to have your organization do a bake sale and bring in $300, that won’t build a ballfield,” Gears told the groups. “The big chunks are going to have to be done with grant writing and benevolence.”benevolence.”

So far, representatives from the North Kitsap Soccer Club, North Kitsap Select Soccer and North Kitsap Little League have stepped up to the plate and asked how they could help.

Gears said he is looking for a group of people who would take the development of the park to the next level to help make it a reality, he said.

“We’re definitely willing to find out what we can do there,” said NKSC board member and equipment manager Scott Foster.

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