Citizen input on city’s parks being analyzed by consultant

Results will help shape parks and recreation plan for city

By Mike De Felice

Special to Kitsap Daily News

PORT ORCHARD – City officials want to know: Are families enjoying Port Orchard’s city parks and are they taking time out to stroll along the city’s scenic walking paths?

To that end, a survey was conducted last spring to determine how they are using city parks, recreational areas and city-owned open spaces.

The questionnaire also sought suggestions on how to improve the city’s existing resources and to determine whether there is a need to acquire additional land for parks and recreational use, according to city long-term planner Keri Sallee. The online survey, conducted under the supervision of the city’s Department of Community Development, drew nearly 190 participants.

Information gathered in the survey will be used to draft a parks, recreation, and open-space plan that will go before the city planning commission on Oct. 5, Sallee said.

City officials provided the Independent with the survey results. Here is a sampling of the results:

Among major parks in the city, Waterfront Park earned the highest number of monthly visits, attracting 35% of survey participants. Meanwhile, the Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway earned the highest number of weekly visits, garnering 30% of those surveyed.

Participants were also asked what indoor facilities they would like to see in Port Orchard. A new youth center was the most requested, followed by a public library, a leisure swimming pool and a fitness facility.

The questionnaire also asked participants to prioritize the recreation programs they would like to see in the city. “Environmental,” which included park and trail maintenance and habitat restoration, was listed as the top priority by 30% of the survey participants. Outdoor recreation, including hiking, camping rafting and golf, was mentioned by 26% of those taking the survey.

The Farmers Market was chosen as the activity participants most wanted to attend. The Festival of Chimes and Lights event was the runner-up. The Taste of Port Orchard food event and July 4 festival events were also included on the list.

The survey was part of the Imagine Port Orchard program, which aims to generate community input on city projects and plans.

The survey results have been analyzed by a consultant hired by the city. Tom Beckwith of Beckwith Consulting Group is expected to present a draft of the park, recreational areas, and open space plan to the city parks planning commission on Oct. 5. City Council members have been invited to participate in the informational meeting.

Following the Oct. 5 meeting, the consultant will draw up a final plan. On Nov. 2, the planning commission anticipates holding a public hearing and then decide whether to recommend the City Council approve the plan, the city’s long-term planner said.

Plans call for the City Council to have the final plan in hand by mid-November and vote whether to approve it late that month, Sallee said.