County steps forward on Kingston boardwalk project

KINGSTON — When Kitsap County Facilities, Parks and Recreation planner Dennis Oost talks about Carpenter Lake, people often respond with, “There’s a lake in Kingston?”

The 7-acre lake, which is part of a 38-acre county park property located off Barber Cut Off Road, is surrounded by a large bog, making it difficult to access unless one is wearing really high waders.

But by the end of the year, everyone will be able to visit this hidden area filled with rare and endangered plants and a unique ecosystem — without getting wet.

Plans for constructing a boardwalk from behind Gordon Elementary School to the lake were approved this week by the county and will go out to bid for a contractor this month, Oost said. The project has been delayed several years because the county’s Department of Community Development kept revising the plans, such as decreasing the number of outlooks along the boardwalk. The final schematics show three outlooks, including one overlooking the lake.

“We just want to be very careful with what we do here,” Oost said.

The boardwalk will be about 350-400 feet long, from the switchback trail behind the school to the lake. Visitors will be able to view the wetland grasses, bog plants and wildlife, such as Red Wing Blackbirds and Golden-crowned Kinglets.

The primary reason for creating access to this virtually unknown and undisturbed area is to provide education opportunities, especially for young minds, and its location behind an elementary school seems to be perfect, Oost said.

“We can show the young children the unique environment,” Oost said, noting that when children are taught about the environment at a young age, they have a better appreciation for it when they are adults.

Because North Kitsap School District properties, including the elementary school, Kingston Junior High and, in 2007, Kingston High School, are adjacent to the lake parcel, it provides a huge interactive area for the school system, Oost said.

There is no cost estimate on the project yet but Oost expects it be completed and ready for use by the end of the summer. Instead of using volunteers to build the boardwalk, a contractor will be hired because of the sensitive nature of the environment.

“This is just too specialized,” Oost said. “We need to get in here in the dry season.”

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