Concerns regarding the Burton Adventure Recreation Center’s (BARC) hours of operation and staffing, grants for improving BARC and the potential of opening a dog park on Vashon were topics of conversation in the Park District’s most recent meeting on Nov. 9.
Kevin Anderson, a frequent visitor of BARC, asked why there had been issues with BARC not being open during its designated hours of operation. Anderson also asked why there had been issues with staffing, resulting in unexpected closures.
Elaine Ott-Rocheford, the Executive Director of the Vashon Park District, explained that hours for the BARC were set based on the budget the district received. When the district’s budget was pro-rationed, it required the district to be more conservative on recreational funding and staffing, said Ott-Rocheford.
However, Ott-Rocheford did say that with the upcoming 2022 budget, there would be the ability to double the park programming budget. With this, the Park District would like to have BARC open six days a week, eight hours a day.
Ott-Rocheford also added that the district would like to fill a part-time position for BARC which hasn’t been filled since 2013. The position primarily handles the scheduling of staff at the location. Funding for the position has been built into the 2022 budget.
Judith Neary, of the island nonprofit RJ’s Kids, discussed the progress on the grant project that would bring renovations to BARC. Neary received two grants for the project, one in 2019 and the other in 2020, totaling $426,000.
After completing a two-year permitting process with King County, Neary said that the renovations to BARC would potentially begin as of Feb. 2022. In addition, Neary is working to obtain private grants for art installations at BARC.
Sylvia Soholt also spoke at the meeting, on behalf of a cohort of islanders who are interested in a dog park on Vashon. Commissioner Hans Van Dusen commented that there wasn’t enough information to support the issue, so there would not be any action made regarding the budget in reference to a dog park.
Ott-Rocheford mentioned that there may be an attempt by King County to purchase land on the Misty Isle property to form a dog park. More specifically, this land would be where sheepdog trials have taken place in the past.
King County has previously required a nonprofit to form in order for funding and maintenance support, according to Ott-Rocheford. The Beachcomber reached out to David Kimmett, Natural Lands Program Project Manager for King County who represents Vashon, but has not heard back as of press time.
Commissioners were also focused on the 2022 budget, with resolutions for the assessor and King County Council needing to be approved by the Board by Nov. 30.
One issue raised by the Board was updating user fees throughout the Park District.
Commissioners Doug Ostrom and Bob McMahon agreed that a fee increase was a good idea, considering that Vashon’s fees were the lowest in the area compared to other park districts and that fees hadn’t been raised since 2018.
Commissioner Joshua Henderson agreed that fees could be raised, but said that the fees did not necessarily need to match other districts in the region. Commissioner Abby Antonelis opposed raising fees, as she stated Vashon is already an expensive area and wanted to keep the fees as low as possible.
The board decided to form a committee to explore user fees at the parks, and to see what fees should or should not be raised.