Bremerton Patriot


Everything Bremerton | Parks and Recreation

By COLLEEN SMIDT Bremerton Patriot Columnist
January 24, 2013 · Updated 12:44 PM

I want to help build a better Bremerton and I am always on the lookout for opportunities to serve in a particular capacity that fits my time availabilities and experience level.  My years of service until now have taken many forms on various committees, studies and commissions for the Bremerton School District and Kitsap County.

In the month of December two positions on the Bremerton Parks and Recreation Commission opened up.  My experience with local youth sports groups that make use of city parks and my participation with park clean-up efforts and several positive interactions with Parks Director Wyn Birkenthal inspired me to submit my application for one of the two open positions.

A couple of weeks ago, Mayor Lent accepted my application and last Wednesday, I was officially appointed as a commissioner by the City Council.

The Bremerton Parks and Recreation Commission is a seven member advisory board established per city ordinance. The commission makes recommendations to the director concerning policies for the use, development and planning of the city’s parks and recreation facilities and services. Commission meetings are public meetings and are open to the public if any of you wish to attend.

In the coming year the commission has some pretty heavy lifting to do in the form of updating the Parks, Recreation and Open Space Plan. In 2007 a very complete and through update of this plan was facilitated via a paid consultant and a funded parks staff with available paid hours to assist.  This time around the Parks Commissioners themselves will do nearly all of the work on the update as the luxury of paid consultants and paid staff time to assist was removed as a possibility in the wake of city budget cuts and staff reductions over the last few years.

I have also volunteered for and am serving on the newly formed Parks Funding Task Force which is on schedule to submit its recommendations later this year. We recently held our first meeting. How to fund our parks for the future is the critical question the task force will fully explore before any recommendations are made.

Hard decisions are coming to every department and every appointed or elected leader in this city. Years of kicking too many cans down the road in the good times have left this city with fewer and/or highly unpopular options now that times are not as good.

City parks and recreation facilities are important public resources that need to be stewarded carefully. Thoughtful due diligence is critical to any decision whether it is simply maintaining what inventory we have, reducing or increasing the number of parks we have, or even a complete restructuring of how the entire department is funded and operated. Either way it is going to be a very important year for Bremerton on a host of issues. Parks and Recreation is just one of them and I am happy to serve where I can.


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