PORT ORCHARD — In the next two months about half of the county’s park properties will undergo scrutiny to determine if it makes sense for the county to continue to manage them. A plan will be developed to determine if land should be declared surplus, or if it makes sense to find a community group or volunteers willing to take over maintenance. Larger park properties like the county’s heritage parks and those purchased with grant money will not be reviewed.
The properties that will be evaluated are ones that drain parks department resources and don’t provide regional service, according to a report from the department. They tend to be 10 acres or smaller and require more attention than what the department can provide because of reduced staffing levels.
The parks department has identified 79 parcels that comprise the county’s 6,334 acres of parkland. Of those, 41 parcels will be evaluated against 13 divestiture criteria. Things to be considered include: whether the property falls within the jurisdiction of a city, whether it has tribal interests, whether it duplicates recreational services within the same geographic region, whether the property is developed, the remoteness of the parcel and whether the property has a partnership with a stewardship group.
Dunwiddie presented a plan recently to county commissioners detailing how he planned to evaluate the properties. He made the proposal because his department is understaffed and unable to maintain all of the parks that span the county, he said. Twelve employees make up the parks maintenance staff, and they are responsible for responding to issues seven days a week, he said.
The parks advisory board will begin the review at its next meeting, March 20, starting at 6 p.m. in the Kitsap Sun Pavilion conference room, 1200 NW Fairgrounds Road, Bremerton.