Events center outlook remains hopeful —

Events center outlook remains hopeful

Bill and Charles Mickelson and Melton, North Kitsap Herald, Sept. 2, 2006

By Bill and Charles Mickelson and Melton, for the North Kitsap Herald

September 2, 2006

POULSBO — When it comes to the future of the North Kitsap Regional Events Center and its pitcher of dreams, the four groups involved believe the glass is half full.

The city of Poulsbo, North Kitsap School District, Kitsap County and the Kitsap County Public Facilities District remain committed to the concept of a regional events center in the North End, even though funding remains a major question.

In April, the KPFD put $900,000 on the table to initiate the estimated 20-year project that would transform the NKSD’s Poulsbo campus into a beacon for community recreation. As it offered up the funds, the KPFD asked for a collective match from the other partners for the $1.8 million first phase, which focuses largely on outfitting the NKHS stadium with synthetic turf and enhancing Strawberry Fields.

Part of that funding is expected to come from the city through a Washington state Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation (IAC) grant for $250,000 to improve Strawberry Fields, but the recently released project rankings leave plenty of room for doubt or optimism.

“The project ranked 34 out of 69 in its category, and how many get funded depends on what the Legislature does,” said IAC spokeswoman Susan Zemek.

In the last funding cycle, which was in 2004, the Legislature funded 33 projects for more than $7.7 million she said.

“We had a record number of applications this year. We really won’t know until March or April,” Zemek said.

KPFD Administrator Anne Blair said even though the grant possibility doesn’t look overly positive, everyone involved is still committed to the project.

“We have partners who are very committed, and we don’t want to lose momentum,” Blair said.

However, how far the project actually goes will be based on the amount of funding each partner can provide, Blair said.

Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade said the city remains faithful to the idea of the regional events center and will be in Olympia to make a push for funding for the project.

“I think it is one that has an impact on the entire North Kitsap area, and we’re going to do all we can,” Quade said.

However, if the Legislature doesn’t award the grant, Quade said the city will work with the other partners on the project to find alternative funding sources.

Struggling with $1.7 million worth of budget cuts for the 2006-2007 school year, the NKSD has already been on the search for for such venues as it isn’t expecting a cash overflow anytime soon.

“We have no money,” NKSD director of finance Nancy Moffatt said in reference to the NKREC funding request. “The money that we have has to go into the classroom first — what we have to offer is in-kind contributions. Our property is very valuable to the process, and our staff can help do some things, that’s what we have to offer.”

Blair pointed out that the less money that goes into the pot, the fewer phase one projects will be able to be completed.

The $1.8 million pot is currently filled with $1.2 million as Commissioner Chris Endresen said the county has already committed its portion of the $900,000 match to the KPFD’s funds. In the spirit of the partnership that has brought the NKREC progression to this point, Endresen said collaboration will be key.

“I think it’s going to take a larger effort than just the agencies,” she said. “It’s going to take a community partnership.”

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