The Kitsap Public Facilities District recently approved the first phase of funding for the Poulsbo Event and Recreation Center, in what could be the first steps on the road to the Viking City constructing a sprawling, multi-million dollar athletic and events venue.
Back in April, the Poulsbo City Council was briefed on the preliminary plans for a multi-use recreational facility to be sited at Poulsbo’s College Marketplace. In order to ease the sting of the facility’s estimated $40 million price tag, the city sought to receive grant funds from the Kitsap Public Facilities District.
Becky Erickson spoke at a Kitsap Public Facilities Board of Directors meeting on Sept. 23 at the Norm Dicks Government Center in Bremerton. At the meeting, Erickson stressed the importance of examining partnerships, funding mechanisms and public support for the various projects under consideration by the board.
“I came and spoke to you last time about the need to phase projects,” Erickson said. “I think that you guys are headed in the right direction, which is to give money out in pieces for each project to be vetted in a very thorough way.”
“We’ve already done a level of vetting for when we were looking at a YMCA,” the mayor continued. “The PERC is not a YMCA, the PERC is something more than that, but we already know from the studies that we have done … that those kinds of recreational opportunities in North Kitsap are appreciated to the point that people are willing to tax themselves for it.”
Erickson stressed the importance of an in-depth feasibility study for the project during the Sept. 23 meeting.
“Every project is going to be very different, they are all unique, so trying to do them in one kind of cookie-cutter way, is going to be very difficult,” she said. “Is it going to pencil? In other words, are people willing to pay for it? Do they really want it?”
Erickson noted that the city would likely have to turn to the voters in order to fund the project in its entirety.
“We are going to end up doing some type of bonding for this,” she said. “I had anticipated doing bonding in 2023.”
During an Oct. 28 meeting, the KPFD approved $244,000 in funding for the first phase’s feasibility study and other preliminary work, said Mike Walton, executive director of the Kitsap Public Facilities District.
“It has a strong economic development component,“ Walton said, explaining how plans for the PERC aligned with the mission of the Public Facilities District. “There’s going to be a meeting space, there’s going to be a hotel built next door — we don’t have any participation in that but the documents have been filed to build that — so there will be the ability to have people staying next door to the conference center and holding events there. There’s also the university campus next door.”
“Because the original master plan for the North Kitsap Regional Event Center — which was slowly taking shape over at the North Kitsap School District Campus — there was a part of the master plan which showed a conference center to be built in the center of that school campus. As things have grown and as things have developed, that seemed to be untenable and unreasonable, as there wasn’t enough parking, there wasn’t enough access to be able to fully support that process.”
According to Walton the $244,000 awarded to the City of Poulsbo will cover the costs of a feasibility study, drawings, estimates and other early project costs.