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Meeting epitomizes Kingston’s energy

KINGSTON — There’s a certain type of energy that’s been building the past few years with each annual Kingston Town Meeting and Feb. 23, it reached new levels. With a crowd that was practically shoulder to shoulder, more than 40 agencies were on hand to answer the questions of some 300 residents who showed up Thursday night.

“This is truly what community is all about,” Kitsap County Commissioner Chris Endresen said of the event.

Before the evening got started, Endresen briefed the crowd on the many accomplishments the Little City by the Sea has achieved in the past year, including the completion of Phase II of the Kingston Sub-area Plan; the opening of the new sewage treatment plant; progress on development of the North Kitsap Heritage Park; and more recently, the negotiations with the U.S. Navy for the 3.6-acre housing property on West Kingston Road, which is expected to be used for a new community center.

To recognize Endresen’s year-long effort with the Navy, Bobbie Moore of the Kingston Parks, Trails and Open Space committee gave the commissioner a plaque as a token of the community’s appreciation.

“We waited with baited breath for over a year,” Moore said.

“This is a surprise and honor,” Endresen said, adding that the negotiation was unlike any she had ever been involved in.

Following the presentation, residents milled around the Kingston Junior High commons, participating in what could be considered an interactive library — any information needed on any kind of topic or issue relating to the North End could be easily found. And, as with similar events, booth attendants often had trinkets or tools to give away to help people remember particular organizations — such as the mykitsap.org buttons handed out by the Kitsap County Department of Community Development. These were to help residents learn more about the process the county will undergo this year to update its comprehensive plan.

“It’s the one-stop shop for the overall 10-year update,” said Eric Baker, the comprehensive plan project manager.

Naomi Maasberg of Stillwaters Environmental Education Center primarily faced questions about the development of the Carpenter Lake trail, which is expected to be completed this year.

“They are all just really excited to walk (on it),” she said of people’s comments.

The Kingston Stakeholders members were presenting what further potential Kingston has to become an even more close-knit, walkable community.

“All this stuff, we’ve waited for years and years,” said stakeholder member Sonny Woodward.

One of the event’s organizers, Greg Platz, was happy with high attendance as well as the participation of the presenters.

“I’m just so impressed with the county people and organizations that will come to our town meeting,” he said. “That’s just 50 percent of the success.”

Another sign of this was when Platz received a phone call from a couple from across Puget Sound who wanted directions to the meeting because they were building a home in Kingston and wanted to learn more about the area.

“Talk about getting familiar with your new home,” Platz said.

The format, in which the booths are centralized in the junior high commons to create a true community feel, also played a big part.

“After three years in a row, we’re settling on a format that is really a success for a town meeting and we have no plans on changing,” he said.

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