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County cuts Hansville advisory council

The Greater Hansville Area Advisory Committee hosted a presentation on north-end vehicle traffic on March 12, in the Greater Hansville Community Center.  - Richard Walker/ Staff photo
The Greater Hansville Area Advisory Committee hosted a presentation on north-end vehicle traffic on March 12, in the Greater Hansville Community Center.
— image credit: Richard Walker/ Staff photo

HANSVILLE — The Greater Hansville Area Advisory Council is no more.

The County Commission cut the council, known as GHAAC, from its list of community advisory councils because of cutbacks at the county level, according to the resolution written to dissolve the council. County administrators is limiting advisory councils to those more closely aligned with Urban Growth Area or Local Areas of More Intensive Rural Development, according to the resolution.

“With the loss of Community Development staff over the course of the recent recession, it’s been challenging to adequately resource our community advisory groups and some have languished for it,” District 1 County Commissioner Robert Gelder wrote to Hansville council members.

The change is not something former council members Art Ellison and Fred Nelson feel will have an immediate, negative impact on the area.

“I don’t see one right now,” Ellison said. Hansville residents are accustomed to working together, he added.

Members of the council still plan to meet sometime in October, though the specific date was not set by Wednesday. During that meeting, members will discuss whether to continue working as a group in some capacity, or disband, Nelson said. Even if it’s not an official county council, interested residents can still meet and make recommendations to county leaders.

With the removal of the Hansville council from the county’s list of advisory groups, four remain: The Kingston Citizens Advisory Council and the Suquamish Citizens Advisory Council in the north end; the Manchester Citizens Advisory Council and Central Kitsap Community Council mid-county.

County commissioners annually review all councils, boards and commissions. The decision to dissolve the Hansville council is not a total surprise; it was discussed in June and, prior to the county’s resolution to dissolve the council, Gelder asked members to write what they would want to accomplish as a county advisory group that could not be done alone or as a club or neighborhood. Gelder received nine responses.

Some respondents were disappointed the council will be dissolved. A letter writer who identified herself as Judy wrote to Gelder, “your letter seems to me to be a foray into how to disconnect us from the county … None of us can get together in a ‘club’ or any other forum and do business similar to that of [the council] without the overtones of being sued should our actions ‘dissatisfy’ any of those who have held this stick over our heads.”

She went on to write: “It saddens me greatly that this grand experiment in democracy is coming to this end. But I am greatly heartened knowing that it was affirmed by this community and that is a triumph.”

Another letter writer, who signed his name Don, wrote, “Personally, I think [the Greater Hansville Community Center] can carry out its role and mission better without [the council]. On average and over the time of its existence, [the council] has probably done more harm than good for [the community center]; and I believe that its legacy will continue in that regard.”

One point of contention: People often confused the roles of the Greater Hansville Area Advisory Council and the Greater Hansville Community Center; the two are unrelated, and the community center is overseen by its own board of directors. But that fact was often not understood.

“My input is that [the Greater Hansville Community Center] and the county would both be better off when [the council goes away,” Don continued.

The general concern over cutting the Greater Hansville Area Advisory Council as a county council was the possible disconnect between the county and the community, Gelder wrote.

“I want to assure you county staff will continue to be involved in the community on proposed projects and developments through vehicles such as the Hansville Log, the county’s GovDelivery electronic communications, local media and organizations,” Gelder wrote.

The Hansville Log is a newsletter produced by the Greater Hansville Community Center and distributed to 2,000 residents.

The Greater Hansville Area Advisory Council did make some notable accomplishments in its six years, Nelson said: Drafting the area’s comprehensive plan, pushing for speed tables to slow traffic, creating sign standards, and spotlighting concerns over Hansville Road; the road is the one way in and out of the county’s most northern area. Other issues the council brought to the county’s attention was stormwater management and the need for a stronger law enforcement presence at Point No Point, Nelson said.

“It was a united voice,” Ellison said. “Who are you going to listen to: someone who speaks for a group, or 100 different letters from people with slightly different viewpoints?”

For now, however, neither Nelson or Ellison believe there are any “real, big pending issues.” There is still a traffic-speed issue in the Driftwood Key area, Ellison said; however, the county is “apparently addressing those.”

Community issues, such as traffic speed and speed tables, may resurface, Ellison said. But no matter what issues may occur in the future, Nelson said the community will be prepared. There’s enough volunteer committees to keep the north end in good shape.

“That’s what Hansville does,” Ellison said. “We’re known as the volunteer capital of the county … That’s what the Parks Department says.”

 

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