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Fish Park permit gets final OK

POULSBO — Little Norway’s Fish Park swam farther upstream as the city council unanimously approved its shoreline substantial development permit Wednesday night.

For the past two years, work at the park had been limited to removing non-native vegetation, such as blackberries and scotchbroom, and replacing them with habitat-enhancing plants and constructing trails throughout the park.

“In the planning department’s opinion, this is the most appropriate use that could occur on this site,” associate planner Randy Kline told the council as he presented the permit for approval.

Under the conditions OK’d by council, the city will be able to move forward with the construction of four shoreline viewing platforms in Fish Park and one at neighboring Nelson Park, a 1.5-mile trail system throughout the park and a 29-unit parking area in the southwest corner of the park.

Even though council members were united in their support of the plans, concerns were raised about the possible impacts of a cultural resource study on the project.

A pre-field work study of the site revealed a strong likelihood of artifacts being located in the general vicinity, Kline said.

Based on that finding, the planning department’s recommendation would allow further exploration as part of the initial permit instead of having the city obtain a separate permit for that portion of the work, Kline said.

Councilman Dale Rudolph said he supports historical preservation but questioned the wording of the cultural resource provision.

“I don’t think the words ‘shall be implemented’ should be in our motion,” Rudolph said. “Rather have it say, ‘If we find something we’ll stop and come back.’”

In response, city planning director Barry Berezowsky said his department was working with the consultant to find alternative ways to address the potential discovery of cultural artifacts.

“We plan to have an archaeologist onsite observing anything that is disturbing the soil,” Berezowsky said. “Once the holes are ready and the determination is made, the archaeologist can go home.”

The provision allows the city flexibility to work with the consultant to find the best ways to address the cultural resource issue, he said, noting that other than pilings for the viewing platforms most of the work will be done above ground.

Fill dirt was also brought to the site in the past and the city is reviewing its files to determine how much was dumped there in order to provide the consultant a better idea of where artifacts might be, Berezowsky said.

Councilman Jim Henry, who serves as the council liaison to the Suquamish Tribe, said he had been told that the tribe felt the area may have been a seasonal fishing area at one time.

With all council members’ concerns addressed, Councilwoman Connie Lord read into the record a letter from Suquamish Tribe Fisheries Director Rob Purser expressing the tribe’s continued commitment and support of the project.

The council then gave its unanimous approval to the permit opening the floodgate for more substantial work at the park to begin.

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