Tri Babes hope to adopt Wildcat Lake

The Seabeck-based Kitsap Tri Babes are hoping to adopt Wildcat Lake to keep it from being closed during the summer months.

The group is working on an agreement, the first of its kind, with Kitsap County Parks and Recreation that would allow the park to stay open through September pending approval by the county Board of Commissioners, said department Director Jim Dunwiddie.

"We're going to do it, we just don't know what it will entail," Dunwiddie said. "I don't even know what the total picture is yet but it's a lot better than saying we're going to be closed seven days a week."

The Tri Babes, a group of local female athletes who train for triathlons together, will be responsible for picking up trash on a weekly basis as well as organizing monthly work parties to clear debris and provide general upkeep within the park. The group will also give $200 to the department monthly to cover costs of park supplies, said Tri Babe founder Lisa Ballou.

"We've agreed to do those three things and in exchange, Dori and Jim will revise their recommendation to the commissioners and will say that they recommend that the park remain open," said Ballou.

At the end of last year, the department recommended the commissioners close both Wildcat Lake in Seabeck and Horseshoe Lake in South Kitsap for all of 2010 to save the county nearly $140,000.

County Commissioner Josh Brown said he hasn't seen anything formally in writing from the department about the agreement, but he said he thinks volunteer work is one way to keep the park open.

"If that's a way we can keep an amenity like Wildcat open, I'd be all for it," he said, adding that other county parks like Anderson Landing and the Illahee Preserve are still operational because of similar partnerships with the community.

The Board of Commissioners will meet March 22 at 7 p.m. to hear a presentation from the parks department.

The Tri Babes have used the park since the group formed in 2003.

"We have a commitment to the community," Ballou said. "And, so here was an opportunity for us to do something for the community and kind of give back to the community for what they've given us."

Ballou said once the park closes after September, the group will likely renegotiate the adoption to open the park back up again next year.

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