Imagine, Suquamish sharing the world

SUQUAMISH — After 50 people showed up to the “Imagine Suquamish” brainstorming session in June to discuss how to improve the community, nearly 20 attended the follow up meeting last Tuesday to discuss the event’s results.

Those results included improving communication between residents and the tribe, building a community center and discussing the role of the county government within the reservation.

Communication, or rather, miscommunication, was the biggest concern.

A primary example was last March’s Suquamish Clean Up Day. By the time the tribe got word of the event, it was too late to switch dates for its annual Renewal Powwow so it could participate, the Suquamish Tribe’s Wellness program coordinator Chuck Wagner explained.

Others who were part of the clean up group said they also came across neighbors who were unaware of the event and would have participated had they known about it.

Kitsap County Commissioner Chris Endresen suggested putting together a community newsletter to help spread information on a regular basis. Others suggested posting information regularly at J.C. Grocery or creating a “lean-to” for information in downtown Suquamish.

Many also agreed that a community center was needed.

Resident Jan Hall noted that the Suquamish Community Congregational United Church of Christ, where Tuesday’s meeting was held, seemed to be the only meeting place in town.

“There isn’t a night this room isn’t used,” she said.

While everyone agreed there was a need for such a place, the reality of the cost and upkeep wasn’t something the community said it was ready to take on.

The group also discussed the roles of tribal and county governments, wanting to know who had the final say in the community.

“It depends on the issue and who is involved,” Endresen said.

The county doesn’t have jurisdiction on land owned by federal entities, such as tribes and their members and the Navy installations. Otherwise, the land is governed by the county.

Resident Kevin McDonald asked how the community could work on the county’s five-year plan for Suquamish without tribal involvement, yet partner on a new stormwater system, like they did this year.

“The Suquamish Tribe are very open (to partnerships),” Wagner said. “But the tribe will take care of its people first.”

Wagner also encouraged residents to attend tribal council meetings, which are open to the public at 3:30 p.m. nearly every Monday afternoon.

The group is expected to meet again in a few months and solidify a plan to bring the community together — even if it means collecting garbage together once or twice a year at first.

“If we can’t build a lean-to, we can pick up trash,” Wagner said.

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