The office is located in the KC Corral, in the suite that previously housed The Mustard Seed Project. The new office will serve as a fixed location for the KPC, from which it can organize projects, respond directly to community concerns and complaints, and provide information about programs and services.
The KPC previously had an office in Key Center that it shared with Safe Streets, but that was closed down over a decade ago due to budget constraints. “With the School Bus Connects Grants, with the Community Partnership grants and with the success of the Farm Tour, we’ve just begun to develop strongly and make it possible for us to grow back into what we always wanted, which was really to be a part of the community on a full-time basis,” said Danna Webster, a council representative.
The KPC is a nonprofit organization “whose purpose is to address, respond to and meet the needs of the community residents,” according to its website. Some of the projects include the KP Farm Tour, the School Bus Connects public transportation program and the KP Advisory Commission, a board that communicates with the county on land-use issues.
The health department plans to use the new office as a satellite location to offer local, easier-to-access resources on water quality and permitting. Frank DiBiase, director of Environmental Health for the department and a Key Peninsula resident, said that distance has been a major obstacle to KP residents in the past.
“Having an office (on the KP) is just to make it simpler and more convenient for folks who may have questions,” DiBiase said. “We’d like to make it so people won’t necessarily have to drive all the way into Tacoma to get questions answered or get application materials.”
DiBiase also noted the importance of water quality, especially as related to waste treatment and septic systems. “Taking care of septic systems and making sure they’re functioning properly is key to protecting water quality,” he said. New programs allow the department to offer financial incentives to those who wish to upgrade, repair or secure their septic system. The new health department office will also accept drinking water samples from well systems and send them to a laboratory for testing.
The Safe Streets nonprofit organization will also have a presence in the new office. “We want all neighborhoods to be clean, prosperous, and we want a high quality of life for our residents,” said Gerod Byrd, the Safe Streets community mobilization specialist assigned to the KP.
Safe Streets focuses on organizing communities into crime-prevention groups and forming partnerships with emergency services and businesses. Safe Streets’ presence on the Peninsula will include training sessions for neighborhood patrols, as well as crime prevention through environmental design (CPED) assessments. CPED is an approach that focuses on providing less attractive targets to criminals through property features like lighting and visibility.
Byrd emphasized the value of organization and awareness and the eventual goal of safe and secure neighborhoods. “For that to happen, it takes a community; it’s not something that the government can do; it’s not something that one individual can do; it takes everybody contributing something,” he said.
The new office is located in Suite D of the KC Corral and will be open Monday through Friday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.. The health department will have staff present on Tuesdays and Thursdays; Safe Streets hours are still being determined.