Opinion

PFD brings sports field opportunities

It’s an unwritten rule in this business that if you want to find a journalist, just look for the nearest buffet. We are by and large a downtrodden lot, so the prospect of complimentary vittles will generally bring hacks running from miles around.

So when the folks at the Kitsap County Public Facilities District rang up with an invitation to their annual picnic this past Monday evening at Battle Point Park, we felt professionally obliged to grab the note pad, don the fedora and investigate. As if the excellent spread wasn’t enough (and it was), the occasion also feted the work of islander Andy Maron, who is leaving the organization’s board after five years.

The event even offered a smidgen of news, of certain interest to local youth sports enthusiasts.

Readers will recall that the PFD was formed a few years ago by edict of the Kitsap County Commission, and was charged with developing new active recreation opportunities and “special events” facilities to serve the greater county. Taking advantage of a special real estate tax rebate offered by the Legislature – sales taxes paid to the state could be kicked back to the county level, to support public development initiatives – the PFD went to work.

The agency issued $11 million in bonds and proceeded to develop a new conference center in downtown Bremerton, and a magnificent ball field complex and other improvements at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds near Silverdale.

Beyond offering stunning new fields for area sports teams, the latter facility was key in bringing independent league baseball to the county; the Kitsap Bluejackets recently completed their inaugural 34-game season, and saw good crowds throughout. For those who haven’t seen the fairgrounds sports complex, it’s worth visiting – not least to see what the PFD was able to build with local tax money that would otherwise have vanished into the impenetrable ledgers of the state.

What does this have to do with Bainbridge Island? Well, we are part of the county, and as we’ve observed, the PFD was working with our money.

Also, between ample bites of skewered salmon, stuffed portobellos and chocolate-covered apricots – as we said, it was a fine picnic – Maron and others on the PFD board noted Monday that with the Bremerton and Central Kitsap projects complete, the agency now turns its attention to North Kitsap. Specifically, they hope to develop a special events center with new ball fields somewhere in the vicinity of North Kitsap High School. Planning is in the very early stages, and they want input from potential user groups from all over the north end, including Bainbridge Island. A public meeting schedule should be announced shortly; the island’s youth sports community – particularly those angling for more soccer and baseball facilities, lighted fields and such – should most certainly get involved.

By the way, Maron’s successor on the PFD board is Christine Rolfes, who’s now in the homestretch of her six years of council service. And more information on the Public Facilities District can be found at www.kitsapgov.com/boards/pfd.htm.

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