Editorial: Promises… promises…

Once again, we send our holiday sympathies to Poulsbo City Hall. There, staff and council members seem to be wishing for much more than a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year — they’re also wishing for answers.

Once again, we send our holiday sympathies to Poulsbo City Hall. There, staff and council members seem to be wishing for much more than a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year — they’re also wishing for answers.

With a pared down budget for 2003, they now face a multi-faceted problem at Nelson Park. A few years ago, the only city-owned greenbelt on the west side of Poulsbo was all but forgotten.

Its ramshackle farmhouse an eyesore.

Its master plan all but ignored.

Everything remained on the back burner until the city came forward with a proposal to raze the old farmhouse. In doing so, the issue was promptly set on the front of the stove and the water began to boil.

The Bight of Poulsbo quickly stepped up and reminded city officials of the 1998 master plan, which called for renovating the structure. Not good enough.

Bill Austin reminded the city of promises made to the public to revamp the building and create a worthwhile park. Not good enough.

So, in true Austin fashion, the Bight hopped in the saddle of its white steed and began its apparent ride to the rescue. The public cheered the project on. The Bight was making headway, its August fund-raiser for the Nelson farmhouse reminded many why they live in North Kitsap. Grassroots work was making a difference, clean up and construction of the home was well underway.

An agreement to finish the project came to light with an unrealistic deadline of June 2003. No problem, Austin said. Can do.

Wrong answer? Maybe.

The city council then pulled the item off its agenda and members immediately began to cite impending budget woes. Reductions are looming but so is the deadline for the farmhouse.

This hasn’t escaped Austin — he’s pretty bright for an Englishman.He’s promised to save it. But can he and the Bight stay the city’s budgetary ax and keep it from cutting out the Nelson farmhouse completely in 2003? Time will tell.

There’s a lot going on with the project. It has more history than some realize but rather than pontificate on rumors. Here are the facts:

The public — after being reminded it was there — is by and large, behind a renovated Nelson house and an improved park. The city has been in favor of this as well but in its case, dollars will speak much louder than words. Meanwhile, Poulsbo City Hall is tightening the belt, preparing for a slim 2003.

Nelson Park is at a crossroads and promises will either be kept or broken on its back.

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