Draft of a trails plan takes its first baby steps

KINGSTON — After two years of research on local trails and non-motorized pedestrian routes, the Kingston Parks, Trails and Open Space Committee has released a report showing how residents can access various neighborhoods by simply walking or riding a bike — without worrying about vehicular traffic.

‘“We’re in an urban area,” committee member Walt Elliott said. “An urban area implies you don’t need to take your car everywhere.”

Elliott and the parks group, a sub-committee of the Kingston Citizens Advisory Committee, hopes the work will be included in the Kingston Sub Area Plan when the county updates the document within the next year.

“This is, gosh, a nationwide movement to try and create walkable communities and Kingston is probably the first community in Kitsap where there is an opportunity to do that,” Elliott said.

In 2002, the committee realized a definitive plan was needed to assure opportunities for future recreation facilities in Kingston. Taking guidance from Bainbridge Island’s non-motorized trails plan, the group decided to reach out to Kingston residents to find out what they wanted.

The past two years of research has included mailing home surveys and having information booths at the Kingston Farmers’ Market, Kingston Town Hall meetings and the 2004 Earth Day celebration at Stillwaters Environmental Education Center. Committee members have also walked the trails and created “walkability reports,” which describe the positives and negatives of existing and potential routes.

The resulting matrix contains trail descriptions, including the type of trail, the type of users it could accommodate and how it could be used, such as a route to school, for commuters or for recreational purposes.

While the list includes existing trails such as the Public Utility District trail system and the Quiet Place Park loop, a majority of the pathways listed are desired trails that need minor enhancements to make them usable. Many of them are simply county right-of-ways that were planned to be roadways but were never constructed.

Elliott hopes to make the list, complete with a map, available to the public by the end of the year at the Kingston Library. While the three-page spreadsheet of trail descriptions is extensive, the committee is far from finished with its task.

In its next round of research, the committee would like create “safe route to school” plans, which includes trails that link Gordon Elementary, Kingston Junior High School and the proposed Kingston High School.

Members are also hoping to review “multi-modal circulation,” which reviews how different means of transportation — such as buses, bikes, cars and ferries — work together.

“A terminus of various transportation delivery means and then a plan to see that they all fit together so people don’t have to rely on just one type of transportation,” Elliott said. “It’s a way of integrating the various types of transportation means in the community.”

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