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Poulsbo park rezoning plan appears to be DOA

POULSBO — Following a public uproar, the city's request that two park properties be rezoned to possibly accommodate development or a reconfiguration of the park appears to be dead.

On Tuesday, Mayor Kathryn Quade said she would recommend to the City Council that the rezone applications for the Betty Iverson Kiwanis Park and the undeveloped Klingel property be removed from the list of rezone applications currently under review. The rezone applications are being discussed as the city drafts a new comprehensive growth plan.

Quade, who is running for reelection to her second term in office against Councilwoman Becky Erickson, said the public outpouring of opposition changed her mind, which included two public hearings each attended by about 60 residents and a petition with 114 signatures.

"I listened to the people," Quade said of her reversal, but was quick to note the rezone proposals did not mean the parks would be changed. Quade said the purpose of the applications, filed by city employees, was to engage the public in a discussion about the parks. One idea she entertained was a reconfiguring of Kiwanis Park, also referred to as the park at Scandia Knoll. This plan, which had not been formally proposed, would have established an easement on the Klingel property, currently on sale, to connect to open land the city is due to receive from the state, Quade said.

The Klingel property is currently on the market, and the money from any sale is marked by the City Council to help pay for the new $16 million City Hall, under construction.

The decision follows a meeting Quade held with residents in the Torval Canyon area Friday.

"The reality is that this is the beginning of the process," Quade told the Planning Commission. "This is the time for the public to comment."

At a continued Planning Commission meeting Tuesday at the Sons of Norway, Quade made the announcement, staunching anxiety about possible changes to open space.

Tom Foley of Poulsbo, a candidate for the City Council, said he arrived at the meeting ready to vocalize his opposition to the plan, but commended Quade for her decision.

"The mayor came here and took the steam out of my whistle," Foley said.

But not all were impressed with Quade's decision, despite agreeing with the reversal.

Stephen Smith, a resident of the neighborhood who helped rally neighbors against the plan, interpreted Quade's decision in light of her reelection bid, calling it disingenuous "to the nth degree."

"She played it like a politician," Smith said, noting that it was Quade's administration who made the rezoning recommendation in the first place.

Parks Commission member Wayne Hill, who met with Quade Friday and was active in questioning the city's plans, was unavailable for comment Wednesday afternoon.

In the meantime, Quade said the Klingel property would be studied to account for how much land is fit for development, and a rezone application may be filed for the property next year.

The decision to back off the proposal leaves in place a rezone application for 7.15 acres of privately owned property in the area, which neighbors say is unsuited to development because of wetlands, steep slopes and inadequate roads.

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