Poulsbo Parks and Rec commissioners: Comp plan is missing something

POULSBO — Two Poulsbo Parks and Recreation commissioners have taken public issue with the contents of the city’s newly released draft Comprehensive Plan — or rather, what they say it’s lacking.

The commission was previously tasked with helping to update the city’s comprehensive plan — a major planning and guidance document — which is now in the hands of the city’s planning commission and will go for final approval before the Poulsbo City Council later this year. Parks and recreation commissioners drew attention at the end of 2008 when they made a recommendation encouraging the identification of eligible wildlife habitat conservation areas within city limits, including Johnson Creek, which lies within Poulsbo’s Urban Growth Area and is likely to see development.

A designation of such a conservation area could require a developer to administer a habitat assessment before receiving project approval.

Earlier this month, Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade wrote a letter to members of the commission explaining the omission of their recommendation from the city staff-prepared draft plan, encouraging them to focus on their duty of serving the city’s parks and recreation systems.

“This is not an opportunity to further a personal agenda, nor ignore the consultation of professional staff,” Quade wrote. “It appears that you have done both.”

Quade also stated the policies were removed after consultation and review from both the city attorney and Planning Director Barry Berezowsky, who helped to determine “that such designations already exist in the City of Poulsbo Critical Areas Ordinance.”

Quade asked that the commissioners set aside personal agendas or resign from their posts, but also made it clear they can offer additional input on the comprehensive plan as citizens, apart from their commissioner status.

To that letter, commissioners Kathryn Owen and Carlotta Cellucci drafted a letter in response, detailing the value of experience held by various commission members and ousting the idea any of them are working toward personal goals.

“None of the commissioners have any personal interests at stake beyond a commitment to helping the city balance growth with quality of life,” they wrote.

The commissioners add, citing the city’s municipal code, it is within their purview to provide advisory recommendations regarding open space.

City Parks and Recreation Director Mary McCluskey said the commissioners’ main concern is that their ideas won’t be heard, but she assures their comments will be given both to the planning commission — with which the parks and recreation commissioners will meet March 31 — and the city council.

“I know at least two (commissioners) feel like they haven’t been heard, but it hasn’t gotten to that point yet,” said McCluskey, noting that government processes can often be slow and arduous. She added the planning commission can, if so desiring, add the parks and recreation recommendations back into the draft comprehensive plan.

The Parks and Recreation Commission next meets March 23 at 7 p.m.

For more information, contact the city Parks and Rec department at (360) 779-9898.

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