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Kingston’s Village Green seeks park district status

Supporters of Kingston’s planned Village Green community center are taking their vision for a new park district to the streets this month.

Village Green Foundation Executive Director Bobbie Moore said her group will begin a signature-gathering drive in support of their proposal for a new metropolitan park district by the end of November.

Moore said Village Green supporters believe a taxing park district is the best option for funding upkeep and programs at the community center, which is planned for a park property off West Kingston Road. The building would replace the current community center on State Route 104, and could include a library and Boys and Girls Club chapter.

With a park district in place, the community center wouldn’t have to rely on the cash-strapped county for funding.

“We would have local control over funding,” Moore said. “That’s a far cry from what we have now.”

The group plans to gather 1,300 signatures in support of the park district, roughly 20 percent of registered voters in the proposed boundaries of the district. The group needs 15 percent of voter signatures to place the park district measure on the Aug. 17, primary ballot.

The district would be overseen by a five-member board, which would also be elected in August.

Before it can become a ballot measure, the district must be approved by the Washington State Boundary Review Board for Kitsap County.

Moore said the planned community center building would cost roughly $200,000 a year to operate. That includes utilities, maintenance, insurance and a staff person to coordinate programs.

To meet those costs the tax district would levy up to $0.15 per $1,000 of assessed home value, Moore said. The proposed district stretches beyond the Kingston core but stops short of including Eglon, Little Boston and Indianola.

Moore said the rent and user fees at the building would be too high without the levy money.

“It doesn’t make sense to build the building if no one can afford to use it,” Moore said.

The group also believes park district status would make the community center project more appealing for potential contributors to the capital campaign. The Community Center Foundation will be pursuing both federal and state appropriations in coming months.

County Commissioner Steve Bauer, D-Hansville, said he had reservations about creating another taxing district. But he believes it’s the best option for funding the community center and said the building will be valuable for residents well outside the Kingston core.

“Given the financial state of the county, we don’t have any money to contribute,” Bauer said. “I’m not in favor, in general, of adding another taxing district, but I think the Village Green Foundation folks have looked at every other option.”

If approved in August, the first levy would be collected in 2012.

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