Looking back, looking ahead: A view of where Key Pen has been in 2004 and where it’s heading in 2005


Rodika Tollefson, KP News

The Key Peninsula was busy in 2004. While some people think nothing happens around this “quiet” neck of the woods, there was plenty happening here, and much more is coming in the new year.

In a substitution of the customary “New Year’s resolutions” theme, the Key Peninsula News decided to take a look at last year’s top events, along with a sneak peak at 2005.

Looking back

Parks, community development, schools, law enforcement and the arts — just about all aspects of local life made the news last year. Following a bit of controversy over the creation of a metropolitan park district, local residents voted in May to create the new park entity, which came along with more than $100,000 in funding from zoo/trek money already paid through sales tax.

By the end of the year, the district established itself as independent of the cash-strapped KP Parks and Recreation District, which is due to be dissolved. After months of planning and hard work, the Key Pen Community Council became official and elected 14 directors equally representing all parts of the peninsula, and by the end of the year this new entity was mapping out its work. As if these two new boards didn’t bring plenty of work for local volunteers, a Key Pen Community Planning Board was created. Funded by Pierce County and established with the help of Councilman Terry Lee, this body over the next two years will tackle the important task of creating a vision for the peninsula through a community development plan.

A crime and safety task force was yet another effort that brought together several interests and groups from around the peninsula, with the focus on crime prevention and meth.

Word of good work happening on the Key Pen traveled around, as the KP Middle School was the very first and only school in the state to be selected for a three-year partnership with NASA— bringing an incredible opportunity to area students. The kudos continued later in the year, as the local arts group, Two Waters Arts Alliance, received a prestigious countywide award recognizing it for contributions to local arts.

Several longtime dreams came true last year, including the opening of a new fire station and the purchase of new fire engines; the introduction of 24-hour police coverage; an additional physician joining the local clinic, effectively doubling health care services; and news that a much-needed hospital will proceed with its building plans after receiving state approval.

What an incredible year!

But some dreams didn’t come true. The Key Peninsula Community Services and Food Bank got turned down for funding for a new, larger complex. In a string of negative news, the two or three military units that volunteered to remodel the current quarters were called to fight the war, and the project was postponed.

Looking ahead

The good thing about dreams is that there is always something to look forward to — and the folks at the KPCS do not give up, as they never have, not even when the organization was so low on money years ago that paid staff volunteered time. Director Cristi Watson said several groups, including KPCS, Children’s Home Society and Communities in School of Peninsula, are banding their efforts of serving residents.

“The goal is to combine resources and communicate. This group has the desire to bring human services to a combined effort,” she said.

Other important issues coming up in 2005:

Crime and safety: Following the addition of more deputies to Peninsula Detachment and 24-hour patrol, Councilman Terry Lee said his next goal would be to create a dispatch by the end of 2005 on this side of the Purdy Bridge, which would help make the deputies more visible and accessible. Continuing its work on crime prevention, Safe Streets and the KP crime task force will coordinate the creation of a Teen Empowered Against Meth chapter at Peninsula High School, planning to hold its first meeting by February.

Other upcoming developments include, with the help of Citizens Against Crime, piloting a land-access closure project that will help get rid of illegal activities on vacant land.

“The overall approach is so that people involved in illegal activities, every time they turn around, will know they’re being watched by the public,” Dennis Taylor of Safe Streets said. “We want the Key Peninsula to be the most uninviting place for meth.”

Roads: State Route 302 is unlikely to get much relief in 2005, after the Regional Transportation Improvement District last year decided against placing a tri-county road proposal on the ballot because it didn’t think taxpayers would have supported the tax package. SR-302 was one of the Pierce County projects that could have been funded, but Lee said the RTID may downsize its proposal. That means SR-302 may become a victim of the delete button.

“If they pare (the list) down, there’s a chance 302 will fall off it,” Lee said. “It’s barely hanging in there.” Some relief will come later, however, with the planned traffic light at Goodnough Drive (the road that crosses the SR-302’s Purdy on/off exit. Lee said a traffic study was finished and cost estimates were being done, and by the end of 2005 a construction schedule could be set.

Parks: The issue of parks will stay at the forefront during the entire year, as several acquisitions are being discussed, including nearly 100 acres at Devil’s Head, about 360 acres near Horseshoe Lake for a regional active park, and potentially another 60 acres across from Volunteer Park. The Purdy Sand Spit and the historic Wauna Post Office will likely remain a controversial subject for entire 2005.

New funding may come into the hands of the metro parks district if Lee is successful in proposing an amendment that will send all park impact fees collected locally from new development to the MPD. “This would be a little more predictable money for them” than the variable zoo/trek funding, he said.

On the lighter side, the Key Peninsulans will have a whopping three new places to dine this year, following the opening last year of the Brookside Restaurant and — finally — Blondie’s, and the upcoming opening of Burger King, for those more into fast food.

Several groups promised to keep up the heat on entertainment, and between Longbranch Improvement Club’s planned theater sets and other parties, the Civic Center’s dances, the TWAA’s art classes, and other groups’ gettogethers, everyone should have enough outlets to get out and relax after all those heavy-duty activities that the multitude of boards, task forces and committees will require.

Some things will not change in 2005: A great number of residents will continue to give their time and efforts for the betterment of their community. We could not ask more for the new year!