Park district establishes citizens’ committee to review fields project

The Vashon Park Dis-trict’s new general manager, in what she called an effort to rebuild the agency’s credibility, has empaneled a citizens’ committee to oversee construction of the fields project north of town.

Elaine Ott said the seven-member committee will provide feedback, focus on the work moving forward, highlight successes and concerns and monitor both internal and external controls governing the ambitious project.

“I know there is concern in the community about credibility and poor management in the past,” said Ott, who took over at the park district last month. “I would like this committee to appease that concern, and I also think it’s useful to have some experts who can weigh in.”

Appointed to the committee are: Keith Putnam, an island architect; Mitch Treese, owner of a construction company; Hilary Emmer, a tax preparer and islander who is part of a group bird-dogging the park district; Janet Quimby, a former Port of Tacoma official who is also a part of that group; Scott Harvey, a banker who has attended recent park district commission meetings; Hans Van Dusen, president of the Vashon Island Soccer Club,  and Shawn Hoffman and Andy Sears, Vashon High School basketball coaches who will share a seat on the panel.

Ott said she was pleased by the caliber of the islanders who agreed to sit on the committee. The group, she said, will likely offer valuable insight and support.

“I’m new to this. We have a lot on our plate. I want to make sure it’s done right going forward,” she said.

Quimby, who formerly directed contracts and risk management at the Port of Tacoma, said she agreed to serve because she wants to see the park district “complete this project in a way that addresses the audit and restores some credibility for the project.”

A state audit report found the park district failed to follow laws governing public works contracts, didn’t put projects out to bid correctly, failed to get a performance bond from one of its contractors and didn’t award to the lowest bidder, as required by law.

A draft report of the audit was delivered to the park district’s five commissioners during a sometimes testy meeting last month, when some board members took issue with the auditor’s findings. This week, the auditor’s office issued its final report, a document identical to the draft version.

Emmer said she decided to serve on the committee because she, too, wants to see the results of the audit taken seriously.

“I want the park district to start doing everything legally and above board, and I want to be a part of that. I want to be a helpful watchdog,” Emmer said.


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