Commentary

Through Asset Inventory, Kitsap County, WA Discovers Parks It Didn’t Know It Owned

Reason has written many times (here and here, for starters) on the need for governments to have accurate inventories of their real property and asset holdings. After all, how can you manage the assets held in the public trust well if you don’t even know what you own?

From Kitsap County, Washington comes a classic example of what government managers often find when they simply inventory their assets—they discovered parks they didn’t know they owned:

The Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Department has come up with a few surprises during its nearly completed inventory of the county’s parks properties.

During months of research on the county’s recreational holdings, parks and rec staff have so far identified 85 sites comprising more than 6,000 acres. Previous listings showed 78 parks and open space sites.

Some little “postage-stamp parks” — deeded by private property owners or obtained through grants over the years — had been forgotten like shoes in the back of a closet. The reason, according to parks and rec director Chip Faver, was inconsistent record keeping under previous administrations.

An up-to-date inventory will allow the county to make better plans for maintenance and use of its parks, Faver said. To streamline the parks system, the county commissioners might also decide to either sell some properties or turn maintenance of them over to stewardship groups under a legal agreement, Faver said.

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Leonard Gilroy is Senior Managing Director of the Pension Integrity Project at Reason Foundation, a nonprofit think tank advancing free minds and free markets. The Pension Integrity Project assists policymakers and other stakeholders in designing, analyzing and implementing public sector pension reforms.