Poulsbo Mayor: new recreation center would be the “jewel” of Kitsap

On Wednesday the Poulsbo City Council received a presentation on a project that is seeking to build a destination recreation and event center in the heart of College Marketplace.

In previous council meetings Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson has suggested that the Poulsbo Event and Recreation Center could be Poulsbo’s version of the YMCA. The facility would include athletic fields, event space and the mayor also hinted at the possibility of siting a new pool at the location. Given the building’s proximity to the forthcoming Fairfield Inn & Suites, Erickson said the PERC could also prove a significant draw for visitors coming from afar to attend specific events hosted at the center.

“It’s a family event center for league tournaments and also a support mechanism for our colleges,” Erickson said in an interview last week. “It’s a big deal and I’m really hopeful we’ll be funded … that facility will be a real jewel for all of Kitsap.”

But a jewel such as the PERC is not without a hefty price tag. The whole project is estimated to require $40 million; $20 million paid for by matching funds from the City of Poulsbo. The rest of the funding — if all goes according to plan — would be funded by the Kitsap Public Facilities District. Erickson said a multi-phased approach would be necessary to tackle the mammoth task of funding the project.

“The initial phase is $400,000 to do the really in-depth planning and public outreach,” Erickson said. “The next phase will be an additional $2 million to do the actual physical design work, specifically what we need. And then we’ll figure out a funding mechanism for the rest of it.”

According to Karla Boughton, the City of Poulsbo’s director of planning and economic development, KPFD will be deliberating which projects to fund next week. Additionally Boughton outlined a number of ways that the city could work to pay its share of the $20 million.

“Our match would come from voted bonds, residual land, sale of our current recreational facility, legislative earmarks, grants, certainly a robust capital campaign and sponsorship and naming rights,” Boughton said at Wednesday’s meeting.

Erickson was sure to emphasize one of the funding sources mentioned by Boughton.

“Karla just said, ‘voted bonds,’ in other words, we need the support from the community, the willingness to tax themselves to build a $40 million building. There’s no way the city government can do this without a tax commitment from the citizens.”

“We need to start talking very bluntly that way, we need to be up front about it,” Erickson said. “There’s no way that we have these kind of dollars inside city government.”

As for the $400,000 of initial funding from the Kitsap Public Facilities District, Erickson said she was, “really hopeful we’ll get that piece.”

“The first part of the funding is really about asking the people, ‘Do you want this? Is this what you want?’ and making sure that we have real secure public buy-off on it,” she explained.

According to Mary McCluskey, director of Poulsbo Parks & Recreation, the building currently housing the department is close to a century old.

Constructed in 1930, the Union High School building became North Kitsap High School in the 1950’s and eventually became a middle school before sitting empty for years in the 1970’s, McCluskey said.

“The housing authority took it over in 1985, remodeled it and that’s where we sit today,” she added. “It’s time to retire the Union High School

“A good and faithful building, but it’s time to move,” remarked Erickson.