Give us a home, where North Enders can roam

POULSBO — The prospect of founding a North Kitsap Regional Events center is one Poulsbo resident and Kitsap County Public Facilities District (PFD) vice-chair Linda Berry-Maraist views as both “a challenge and an opportunity.”

The challenge is coordinating three government agencies — the City of Poulsbo, North Kitsap School District and the PFD — to work with their individual resources and create a common result.

The opportunity lies in establishing a core area for North End activities and events, investing money to bolster and possibly even create new facilities.

“We don’t have a lead agency on this, but somehow, we’ll figure out how to work together to do it well,” Berry-Maraist said. “We’ve sorely needed this for a long time.”

The school district maintains the North Kitsap Community Auditorium, pool, high school, junior high school and an elementary school along with accompanying fields and facilities, on property that surrounds Lincoln and Hostmark roads in Poulsbo.

The PFD, funded by a sales tax rebate, has between $8 and $15 million it would like to spend there to help to gel a conglomeration of those facilities — adding new ones and possibly improving the old ones — for community use.

And the City of Poulsbo, which often uses those facilities through its Parks and Recreation programs, also wants to help solidify that mix of buildings that would see it become Poulsbo’s events center.

The possibilities are seemingly endless.

To begin what could become a fruitful partnership, the PFD gave $5,000 to the North Kitsap School District to head up planning of a regional events center, creating an inter-local agreement in 2004. The city has also contributed $5,000 for creating a master plan.

Many questions as to what an events center would look like still need answering, Berry-Maraist said.

“We don’t know what it will cost, who will pay for it and what the scope will be,” she said.

But the idea here is to create a mission and a vision, along with a list of priorities that all entities agree upon. The PFD plans to hold public meetings in September to ask residents what exactly those priorities should be. The master plan is slated for a December finish.

The Public Facilities District is funded by a revenue stream which began with the construction of Safeco Field in Seattle. Because the state legislature chose to divert sales tax funds to the King County project, it also asked counties to divert a small amount of their own sales taxes — one third of 1/10th percent of the tax — for them to create their own PFDs.

Currently, the PFD makes about $65,000 a month in sales tax revenue but given the variability of consumer spending in the area, that number has reached as high as $111,000 and as low as $40,000.

Rather than wait until the sales tax stream accumulates to an amount that can support a public project, administrators of the fund decided to float bonds to get large cash amounts now, and make payments for them using that revenue stream.

“We were trying to be proactive in what will be our financial situation,” Berry-Maraist said. “We wanted to make sure the money is spent really wisely.”

The district’s first $11.27 million went to projects associated with the Kitsap County Fairgrounds and the Bremerton Harborside. It has since been looking to give North Kitsap a project of its own.

North Enders will reap the benefits through an events center by way of what they spend as consumers, Berry-Maraist added.

“Buy a car, we get a blade of grass,” she said with a laugh.

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