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Poulsbo City Council approves purchase of parks building

POULSBO — For the Girl Scouts, having the Poulsbo Recreation Center to hold meetings is a big help and a good deal.

“Those cookies don’t go very far to pay for camping,” resident Suzanne Christman told the Poulsbo City Council Wednesday night, testifying in favor of the purchase of the building where many of the city’s recreational programs are located.

The Council agreed, voting 6-1 to buy the building at 19540 Front Street NE from the Kitsap County Housing Authority . Councilmembers conceded it was an inopportune time to buy property, but the deal was too good and the programs too vital to the city’s quality of life.

Mayor Kathryn Quade said the right decision was made.

“I applaud your courage,” she said.

The city’s portion of the building houses programs ranging from the Learn and Grow Preschool, to foreign language classes for adults, to the martial art form of Aikido. The sale still must be approved by housing authority.

Resident Bruce Krafsky told the council his grandchild attended the preschool and is now earning A’s in the sixth grade.

“By golly we do have to continue with that recreation,” he said.

“It is the heart of the community,” said Councilwoman Linda Berry-Maraist.

The price tag on the roughly 14,000-square-foot building is $530,000, the amount the housing authority owes on the property, said city Finance Director Deborah Booher.

Of the $530,000, $300,000 will be borrowed and the balance will come mostly from the park department’s reserves and impact fees. Also proposed were project cuts to improvements at other parks.

On top of the building price, the council was told repairs to the aging structure would cost $65,000.

Parks and Recreation Director Mary McCluskey said negotiations lasted nine months.

“It was a long time coming,” she said.

The city expects to cover the $25,000 a year in debt payments, and have $7,000 left over, from renting out the top floor and the money it expects to make raising program fees on non-residents. The $7,000 extra the city expects would be used for maintenance.

The city’s 2010 general fund has a $420,000 gap the council has indicated it will fill with reserve dollars, but councilmembers were told general fund dollars would not be needed for the building purchase. The council will vote on the budget this month.

Councilman Ed Stern, the lone “no” vote, said the issue wasn’t whether recreation programs were important. With the general fund shortfall and a list of unsold property, including property earmarked to pay for the $15.8 million City Hall under construction, the city couldn’t afford the buy another building.

“We propose to buy more of what we can’t sell,” he said, “Land in Poulsbo.”

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