Kitsap Scores Big Bucks from Eco-Friendly Projects
By Christopher Dunagan, email@example.com
October 30, 2006
Low-impact" methods of dealing with stormwater are advancing quickly in Kitsap County, where local agencies will soon receive four out of 10 low-impact development grants awarded by the state this year. The four together are worth $681,000.
"Low-impact development is not a foreign concept in Kitsap County anymore," said Kathleen Byrne-Barrantes, a professional grants writer who has worked for many local entities, including Bremerton.
The idea behind low-impact development is handling stormwater on the site where it is generated. Runoff, which can pick up pollution and cause erosion, is reduced or eliminated.
Washington Department of Ecology has awarded $2.5 million this year for low-impact development projects. Kitsap County jurisdictions received more than 25 percent of that money. The entities are Bremerton, Poulsbo, Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority and Bainbridge Island School District.
Bremerton's Blueberry Park and Urban Gardens on Sylvan Way was awarded $195,000 to become a showcase for low-impact development techniques.
Existing community gardens will remain, but walkways built with permeable pavement will extend the use of the seven-acre park and provide wheelchair access. Permeable pavement, also planned in parking areas, will allow water to soak into the ground instead of running off.
Rain gardens, bioretention areas and a picnic shelter with a "green roof" are part of the design. The project will be carefully monitored for effectiveness, and educational signs will explain how low-impact development works, Byrne-Barrantes said.
"I think this will be a different approach for Bremerton," she noted. "With seven acres, it is a pretty big park, but hardly anyone knows about it. There are no other parks within a half mile." Other grants are being sought by the city to build a playground, restrooms and a large, grassy meadow at Blueberry Park.
Other Kitsap County projects:
Poulsbo, $263,000 to handle stormwater on Caldart Avenue between Lincoln Drive and Forest Rock Lane. The road-widening project will include pervious sidewalks and bioretention swales to capture road runoff for infiltration into the ground.
Bainbridge Island School District, $145,000 for rain gardens, green roofs and pervious pavement during the expansion of Bainbridge High School. The district also received $290,000 from the state Superintendent of Public Instruction for other sustainable design elements.
Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority, $78,000 to retrofit the parking lot at a senior housing project in Silverdale. Byrne-Barrantes said the Department of Ecology will seek $10 million from the Legislature next year for low-impact development projects, and Kitsap County has several other projects in the works that could benefit.
Art Castle, director of the Home Builders Association of Kitsap County, has been working with county and city engineers from all jurisdictions along with private experts to draft low-impact development standards and designs that could be adopted throughout Kitsap County.
"When I heard about these grants, I was pretty ecstatic," Castle said.
While Castle's low-impact-development "cookbook" won't be done until next year, the county is moving ahead with some new regulations to help developers and the environment at the same time. The result will be a county ordinance recognizing the benefits of certain low-impact development techniques.
For example, developers will be allowed to ignore the first 5,000 square feet of pervious pavement when designing stormwater facilities, including detention pods, Castle said. In many cases, the result could be a reduction in cost.
Kitsap County Planning Commission will hold a hearing on the ordinance Nov. 14, and other jurisdictions could quickly adopt the same standards, Castle said.
Castle will continue to meet with a Leadership Committee of involved engineers through the end of the year before completing recommendations next year.