This summer, the Key Peninsula Parks District completed the acquisition of a parcel of farmland adjacent to state Route 302 owned by former parks commissioner Elmer Anderson.
The 40-acre property in unincorporated Pierce County is perhaps best known for hosting the Renaissance Fair for many years. KeyPen Parks has been working on the acquisition for several years since it successfully received a lease on a 360-acre parcel immediately to the north from the state Department of Natural Resources.
Plans call for the development of a multi-use recreation area, including hiking, biking and horseback riding, that also would include trailhead and parking areas. The proposed project is pending, contingent on the level of funding provided to the Washington Wildlife & Recreation Program, a nonprofit citizens group founded by former governors Dan Evans and Mike Lowry.
Stakeholders gathered Dec. 10 at Key Peninsula Gateway Park’s Tour Information Center to hear more about the project and voice their opinions.
“We owe it all to legislators ... for investing in projects that do a lot for our quality of life,” said Tom Bugert, outreach director for the WWRP. “It really means a lot to us.”
The 26th Legislative District’s two state representatives — Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, and Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor — were on hand for the tour of the property Dec. 18.
“You can do so many things,” Angel said. “A lot of possibilities. This is so exciting.”
Seaquist voiced similar thoughts.
“I’m basically here for marching orders,” he said, adding he’s working on ways to fund the project, as well as a package of reforms regarding sustainable aquaculture, which has implications for both the business and tourism industries.
Pierce County Council member Stan Flemming, R-University Place, also was present.
“You’ve got the best-kept secret in the county — the KP,” he said. “This is such an awesome gem.”
There was no shortage of ideas on how to utilize the property.
Ed Robison, a member at-large of the KeyPen Parks board, said development of the land could stimulate activities on the peninsula.
“It’s a way of introducing the fact that Key Peninsula exists to a broader audience,” he said.
“This would be a great place for the Gateway to start,” said Key Peninsula Fire Department Battalion Chief Chuck West, noting the land would be a good place for trails.
Michael Hays, president of the Key Peninsula Parks and Recreation Foundation, said he could help with the project in two ways: To get tax benefits via the foundation by getting people to donate land and to raise funds to help support park programs.
Bugert said once the state Legislature passes a budget next year, funding for developing the Anderson property will be more clear.
“We’ve got a great chance here to start,” said KeyPen Parks Board President Greg Anglemyer, referring to the project improving property values and tourism. “So, it’s all up to you.”
Reporter Brett Davis can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_brett.