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DNR seeks to auction 390 acres in October

KINGSTON — Few seem to have a problem with the way the Washington State Department of Natural Resources is getting rid of 390 acres of forested timber land near Little Boston, but many have a problem with who is interested in it — and who is not.

Many of those present at an informational meeting Aug. 11 regarding the future of the land off Hansville Road had several concerns regarding certain parties involved in the process. Some wanted to know why the North Kitsap School District had declined first dibs on the land, as allowed by law, while others were concerned about the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s plans if it acquires a portion of the property.

The land in question is bordered by Little Boston Road to the north, 288th Street to the south, Gamble Bay Road to the west and Hansville Road to the east. It is zoned interim rural forest by the county.

On Aug. 19 at a board of DNR commissioners meeting in Port Angeles, the DNR staff will ask the board for authority to hold a public auction of the land.

Commissioner of Public Lands Doug Sutherland said the agency chose to get rid of this parcel because it is more expensive to take care of it rather than sell it. The agency also found that there was significant interest in the property from residents and it is isolated from other DNR property.

In order to maximize the value of the land for the agency, the DNR staff has recommended that the parcel be divided into three for auctioning: The first parcel in the northeastern corner is 101 acres with no wetlands or stream buffers; the second parcel, on the west side of the property, is 141 acres with no wetlands but 18 acres of stream buffers; and the third property in the southeast corner is 149 acres with 13 acres of wetlands and 23 acres of stream buffers. Each parcel also has road access.

The value of the land will be announced by the commissioners at the Aug. 19 meeting. The auction is expected to take place at 1 p.m. Oct. 19 at the Silverdale Community Center.

Meeting attendees Wednesday didn’t seem to have a problem with the way the land was going to be sold but were more concerned with why the school didn’t jump on its chance to purchase more land, given the latest controversy regarding the site for the new Kingston High School.

Because the land is common school trust land, by law, the DNR had to offer it to the local school district. But the North Kitsap School District felt acquiring the land with no intentions of building on it right now was not an appropriate way to spend limited funding, Sutherland said.

School Board president Catherine Ahl said while land issues are discussed in executive sessions and can not be reported on, she said she did not disagree with Sutherland’s comments.

Several audience members wanted to know the specifics of the school board’s letter to the DNR declining the offer and how they could get a copy of the letter.

“I don’t know what it means in light of the (proposed Kingston High School site) and my chagrin with the school district tells me that North Kitsap School District has had its last chance,” said Poulsbo resident Bill Reedy.

The other issue of the night was what the tribe would do with the land if it was successful in its bid. Many were concerned about the tribe not paying taxes on the land nor having to follow any county or state environmental codes.

Sutherland said residents should not speculate on the future, but North End resident Charles Turner said he has found that the tribe already has plans for the property at the Little Boston Tribal Center.

“We’re not speculating, we’re only dealing with what they said they wanted to do,” Turner said.

“I think the tribes have every right to participate in the public auction as everyone else,” Sutherland answered, noting that if the tribe is successful in winning a bid, then it should work with the community on plans for the land.

Others believe a deal is already sealed between the tribe and the state. The two parties have been talking about selling the property to the tribe since 1993.

“It’s a bunch of crap,” said resident Pat Menge of the efforts to open the land to the public.

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