Opinion

Kudos to the Kiwanis

Local Rotarians and Lions have invested heavily in the city parks bearing their affiliations in Evergreen Rotary Park and Lions Park throughout the years, and today the Kiwanis Club will follow suit as its members gather at Kiwanis Park, located between Fourth and Fifth streets in West Bremerton, for the first step in a long-term overhaul of the park.

City of Bremerton parks director Wyn Birkenthal, Kiwanis President Carol Sue Rogers and city park planner Colette Berna have spearheaded a major revitalization and improvement effort for the park, which is a diamond in the rough in a neighborhood that hasn’t exactly received a lot of TLC over the years.

The park is loaded with tons of potential to provide a safe, family friendly outdoor environment for residents in the neighborhood and could easily become a magnet for the west side of town, but in its current state it’s hard to tell exactly what the park has to offer.

A small playground area and a wide open grassy field surrounded by a chain link fence aren’t exactly the most inviting amenities for people driving through the area looking for a place for a picnic or a place for their kids to play, but thankfully that all will begin changing for the better.

Local history has shown what can happen when community groups and city leaders take the first steps in reinvesting and improving a recreational facility like a city park. One has to look no farther than Evergreen Park, which not so long ago was a major haven for prostitutes and drug dealers. Now no one would ever guess how bad things were in the past as the park lives up to its potential as a family friendly gathering place and a major attraction for the area.

Lions Park has always been a benefit to the surrounding neighborhood and with new lighting being installed on the ballfields, its value will only be further enhanced, so it’s only fitting that Kiwanis Park gets it share of the spotlight.

With city budgets getting tighter and tighter with each passing year, there isn’t much in the coffers for parks and other quality of life amenities residents expect their local government to provide. If the choice is between another police officer on the streets or a new jungle gym at a park, it’s easy to see where law enforcement wins every time.

It’s not that parks aren’t an essential element of the city’s quality of life, it’s just that in terms of financing, they’re not at the top of priority list. That is why it will take a community effort like the one being led by the Kiwanis Club today to breathe new life into parks and other recreational facilities that are in dire need of some tender, loving care.

Kudos to the Kiwanis Club for stepping up to the plate and doing its part to take ownership of a park that bears its name. The club’s motto is “Serving children of the world,” and that’s exactly what this long-term project will accomplish.

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