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Regional Events Center starts to take shape

POULSBO — Ideas were bounced around during the second public forum for the master planning of a North Kitsap Regional Events Center Nov. 29. At the end of the night, the once hazy picture of what the community wants and needs sharpened as those in attendance favored two of the three master plan sketches presented.

NKREC contract developer Stan Lokting presented the sketches with descriptive help from architectural consultant Bruce Dees of Bruce Dees and Associates. The North Kitsap School District boardroom housed roughly 40 people who came to see, hear and debate the options for a NKREC master plan. The alternatives have formed after months of input and were heard by the NKREC steering committee, which has whittled the wish list down to what the center will probably look like.

“What we’re looking at is the dream for a 20-year plan,” said Kitsap Public Facilities District vice-chair Linda Berry-Maraist. “As we move from a general idea to a more specific plan, issues are going to come up; there are pluses and minuses of each.”

The master planning process has focused on six areas of interest generated by public and board forums: parking, pedestrian and traffic safety and security, athletic fields, nature trails, the community center auditorium and pool, and the construction of a multi-purpose field house.

Many amenities are laid out similarly in all three plans.

Central to all three was construction of both a multi-use field house and supporting amenities to the community center pool and auditorium. The idea of upgrading sports fields and utilizing synthetic turf to maximize usage on as many as monies will allow remains a predominant hope of supporters.

Members of the audience noted they are currently only able to use three of the 10 fields in North Kitsap; every year after November, all fields are closed for the winter.

“The existing fields will be improved and we will be looking at 10 good, usable fields,” Dees said.

Dees said the preliminary fields with priority for turf would be Viking stadium as well as the adjacent baseball/soccer fields to the east.

From the crowd also came the question of who will be the primary users of the fields and facilities.

“What I see is that this project will center around youth,” community member Rich Hecker said. “And it might be a good idea to involve them.”

Area youth have been invited to attend public meetings, but attendance has been dismal. The idea of delivering the same presentation to students generated some interest at the meeting.

Kitsap Public Facilities District chair Walt Draper agreed with the concern but noted that it is to be a community, not just a youth center. Though younger residents may be the primary users, the NKREC should be available and attractive to community members of all ages, he said.

Since facilities will be available to a wide base of users and with the capacity of the proposed field house expected to be 1,000 or more, the recurrent concern of adequate parking arose. When school is in session — especially at NKHS — parking lots are practically full.

To answer this, each of the master plan options included an expansion of the parking at the community center — something that would eradicate the field immediately behind the center and relocate it south of Strawberry fields.

“In each of these plans there is some displacement that needs to be looked at,” NKSD capital facilities director Robin Shoemaker commented.

There is also a possibility for underground parking to be installed beneath the gym of the field house, Lokting said. But that depends on what the final design and placement of the field house will be.

According to public opinion, the field house should be added on to either the NKHS or Poulsbo Junior High gyms, but the complete master plan still must be fine tuned. The final public forum is set for Jan. 24, 2005 and will once again be held at the NKSD board room.

“We don’t have all the answers at this point in time,” Berry-Maraist said to financial, managerial, and unanswered questions. “If we all work together, as partners, we will have a common vision.”

Pick a plan

Those in attendance at the Nov. 29 public forum meeting were given the opportunity to voice support of what they viewed as the best master plan option.

Options one and three were favored.

The plans both call for the same attributes, but the layout differs.

The most favored plan by the audience consolidated the field house and community center additions. The plan calls for the field house to be connected onto the existing Poulsbo Junior High gym, right next to the community center on which the plan adds dressing rooms as well as rehearsal and set design areas to the theatre along with a water slide to the pool.

In that case, the field house placement would cut into both parking and existing field space to the south of the school and center.

The other favored option would connect the field house with the existing NKHS gymnasium with the additions still being made to the theatre and pool. However, existing parking off Caldart Street would be reduced, and parking complications may arise during school hours.

“None of these drawings are perfect, they are just conceptual bubble diagrams,” Lokting said, noting the next step — another meeting of the stakeholder boards — will further specify the master plan.

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