Group, tribes opposed to proposed NK sports complex

A local organization and two tribes are against a proposed sports/recreation complex in North Kitsap, mostly due to environmental and traffic concerns.

The group, Stop Bond Rezone, lists concerns about traffic, water, wildlife, public transit, rural nature, tribal concerns, and points out that the nearby Poulsbo Events and Recreation Center is already in the process of being constructed. Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson has said she is opposed to the project.

Raydient Places + Properties, the YMCA of Kitsap and Pierce Counties, and the Kingston-North Kitsap Rotary Club have explored building a sports/recreation complex adjacent to Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park over the past year.

The concept involves Raydient rezoning the centrally located 400 acres it owns on Highway 307, resulting in an increase in the number of nearby single-family residential lots from 20 to 80, per North Kitsap United’s website, the name of the organization comprising all three entities. The goal is to utilize “lot clustering” to create up to 200 acres of open space that can be contributed at little or no cost to the community.

Within a portion of the open space, the aim is to find a home for a new YMCA and a sports/recreation complex. Consultant teams are doing traffic, wetland, stream and geotechnical studies.

Stop Bond Rezone is a group opposed to the project, claiming “the proposed high-density housing development and sports complex represents an existential change to our rural community. The proposal conflicts with the mandates of the Growth Management Act and would cause environmental damage.”

For traffic, the group states that ever-increasing ferry traffic drives rising traffic counts and accidents along the two-lane Bond Road. “Traffic from the proposed housing development and sports complex would only add to the already congested route,” the opponent group’s website states. “Bond Road is a narrow two-lane road with exceptionally narrow shoulders. Pedestrians and cyclists would be forced to travel on the dangerous shoulders of Bond or Highway 104 in order to access the new amenities.”

The group also says the proposed development would be far from any transit hub, adding to the already congested traffic in the area.

Environmental concerns

Water is another critical issue. It says the proposed high-density development would be located on a critical aquifer recharge area, putting local drinking water at risk. “Critical aquifer recharge areas must be protected,” the website states. “Once an aquifer is contaminated, there is no easy restoration process.”

The proposed development would also threaten the many creeks and streams that flow into Gamble Bay, per the group. “Keeping these waters safe is essential to preserving the region’s shellfish and fish, which are essential for the local tribes like the Port Gamble S’Klallam and Suquamish.”

The group says the rezoning proposal would displace numerous animal populations living throughout the site’s undeveloped timberland. “As large tracts of timber land are clearcut to make way for new development, all of the creatures that previously lived in those woods must flee to find new habitat. Deer, bear, cougar and other displaced creatures are treated as a problem, rather than the victims of habitat destruction. Habitat destruction in other areas of North Kitsap make this a cumulative problem with overall devastating loss of biodiversity in our county.”

The group wants to keep the area rural. Per the county policy, density increases are to be made in Urban Growth Areas, not in rural areas. Additionally, the group says Kitsap’s rural communities are important to residents and visitors alike. “Rezoning to achieve 80 densely spaced housing units and a sports complex would greatly impact this area located between Bond Road and the quiet, rustic trails of the Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park.”

The group also says it doesn’t trust Raydient. “Raydient is promising nothing in return for your support of the rezone and has issued a threat if they don’t get what they want: ‘the existing trails will be closed permanently, and nearly all public use of the property will cease.’ Further, Raydient has a track record of adversarial relationships, broken promises, and litigation surrounding its developments. The only thing certain about the Bond Road rezone is negative impacts on North Kitsap” the SBR website states.

Other reasons the group opposes the rezone include: it would increase the number of homes and allow commercial development; there are already more than 1,000 new homes coming to North Kitsap; the rezone will not address affordable housing; there is no guarantee the land will be available for a sports complex; no clear plan of ownership transfer; no funding for project yet; it will take at least five years, which does nothing to address current needs; and NKU has not provided a clear plan of what it intends to develop.

Tribes opposed

Both the Suquamish and Port Gamble S’Klallam tribes are also opposed to the rezone, saying it would impact both tribes’ treaty rights to hunting and fishing. PGST environmental planner Marla Powers said in comments submitted to the county comprehensive plan that by law development in rural areas is supposed to be minimized. “Conversion of larger tracks of rural land into much smaller 5-acre parcels is low-density rural sprawl and does not meet this mandate.”

The Suquamish Tribe also sent a letter to the county’s Department of Community Development regarding the comp plan. “The area covered by the Comprehensive Plan update lies entirely within the Suquamish Tribe’s aboriginal homeland and includes treaty-reserved fishing areas and hunting and gathering areas. The Tribe seeks protection of all treaty-reserved natural resources through avoidance of impacts to habitat and natural systems. The Tribe urges Kitsap County to avoid land use decisions that will impact natural resources within the Tribe’s territory, including impacts to the shorelines and waters of the Tribe’s usual and accustomed fishing areas.”