Poulsbo eyes plans to acquire 184 acres of forestland, Snider Park baseball fields

Nathan Pilling
Kitsap Sun
View Comments

POULSBO – Poulsbo city officials are considering plans to acquire a pair of properties – a large swath of former state timberland and the Snider Park baseball complex – from Kitsap County.

On Wednesday night, Poulsbo City Council members signed off on a $20,000 budget amendment that would cover environmental assessments and associated escrow fees if the properties were transferred.

According to city officials, the transfer would include 184 acres of forested property off Rude Road, near Highway 3, and the Snider Park fields off Viking Avenue. Both properties sit just outside Poulsbo city limits. The forest property was once used as logging land by the state’s Department of Natural Resources and was transferred to Kitsap County in 2015, according to county property records.

Little Rude Road, which runs along the edge of the 184 acres of property that could soon belong to the city of Poulsbo.

“The county approached us and said, ‘Would you want this property?’” Mayor Becky Erickson reported in a City Council committee meeting on Wednesday. “It’s probably, more rightfully, should be part of the city of Poulsbo because inevitably in a hundred years that will probably be part of the city.”

In an interview with the Kitsap Sun, Erickson said that part of the disposition of the property from the state requires that the land stays as open space.

“We all know that our population continues to increase,” she said. “We are going to need to preserve those open spaces for our future generations, and that’s what this is about.”

City Parks and Recreation Director Dan Schoonmaker said the future of the property would take shape over a longer-term planning process and floated ideas like a disc golf course and trails that could accommodate mountain bikers and walkers. The property contains the headwaters to Johnson Creek and open meadow spaces alongside the forested areas, he noted.

“It’s got a little bit of everything on 184 acres,” he said. “It’s really going to be a nice place.”

FILE PHOTO - North Kitsap softball player Reyna Blackwood, 15, organized a camp for Challenger players at Snider Park in Poulsbo on Sunday, May 1, 2022.

The North Kitsap Little League has operated at Snider Park under a long-term lease with Kitsap County, and Erickson said the city would plan to maintain the same type of agreement.

North Kitsap Little League board president Aaron Stanford noted that the organization has played at the park since 1953, the year the league was founded. The league has grown to the point where this year it had 63 teams and more than 800 youths participating, ranging from 4-year-olds to high schoolers, playing T-ball, baseball and softball, he said.

"We're very excited to work with the city of Poulsbo and Mayor Erickson," Stanford said. "I think it's going to be a fantastic transition."

Stanford noted vandalism and break-ins that have occurred at the park, which he said have "really ramped up" in the last two years. Vehicles have driven through the park's gate, and "numerous" break-ins have occurred at buildings, Stanford said, pointing to two incidents that damaged the park's fields, which require significant financial investments each year.

In one, a vehicle drove onto a field and did donuts in the snow. In the other, a vehicle drove through an outfield fence and left tracks on a field. The league recently ramped up security at the park, and Stanford said the organization has already seen city police officers patrolling the area.

Erickson noted the break-ins and said the transfer would allow the city to offer better protection to the park, which is also adjacent to a city water well: “It’s unacceptable. We will now be responsible to make sure that area stays safe.”

Nathan Pilling is a reporter covering Bainbridge Island, North Kitsap and Washington State Ferries for the Kitsap Sun. He can be reached at 360-792-5242, nathan.pilling@kitsapsun.com or on Twitter at @KSNatePilling.

Consider supporting local journalism in Kitsap County: Sign up for a digital subscription today.

View Comments