KPC directors work at their recent planning meeting. Photo: Resource Dimensions

The KPC has grown into an umbrella organization for numerous efforts to improve life on the Key Peninsula.

The Key Peninsula Community Council held a retreat in January to develop a strategic planning framework for the future. The KPC’s scope of work and budget have expanded, and the 14 directors wanted to review the council’s role in the community, its goals and the best way to move forward. 

The KPC was established in 2004 following a two-year planning process in response to frustration with lack of attention from Pierce County and a desire to encourage civic involvement. Its purpose, as stated on its website, is “to address, respond to and meet the needs of the community residents by developing partnerships, sponsorships and programs in order to maintain and improve the quality of life on the Key Peninsula.” 

The KPC has grown exponentially in recent years, evolving from an all-volunteer organization with a budget that barely covered postage to one with a paid staff member and an office in the KC Corral. Funding comes primarily from grants and rental income.

In 2015 a group of Key Peninsula citizens and representatives from a number of local organizations met to consider how best to connect area resources and people more effectively. They identified three primary issues that affected well-being in this community: hunger, transportation, and health and wellness. Late that year KPC received a grant from the Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation to build an infrastructure to facilitate collaboration and coordination of the various organizations and agencies serving the Key Peninsula. 

The KPC now serves in part as an umbrella for programs that include KP Partnership for a Healthy Community, the KP Farm Council, KP School Bus Connects, the Gig Harbor Key Peninsula Suicide Prevention Coalition, and KP Youth Council. Its office provides space for the Tacoma Pierce County Health Department, Safe Streets, Hope Recovery Center and County Councilman Derek Young. 

Fourteen Directors from the five census districts on the Key Peninsula serve two-year terms. Each fall the KPC reviews applications and then selects new members in November. Terms are staggered; half of the positions are filled each year. 

At the retreat, which was facilitated by Julie Ann Gustanski, Ph.D., LLM, and Mary Ellen Hill, MPA, from the Resource Dimensions consulting group, the directors affirmed that the KPC is committed to providing quality programs and services to support maintaining public infrastructure for the benefit of the community, and that it values engagement and participation from all members of the community working together to create policies and plan for the future.

Goals from the retreat include internal matters—clarifying financial procedures and committee structure related to the various programs under the KPC umbrella, assuring sustainable funding, and fine-tuning the mission and vision statements. 

Two goals have a more external focus. One is to increase public awareness and have name recognition in the community, largely using the website, social media and the KP News. Kristen Auguztiny will chair the workgroup for that goal. 

The other goal concerns governance. Jeremy Larcom, KPC President, said a workgroup will look at a number of issues, including self-governance. He noted that Spanaway is considering incorporation to allow for more local control. “We send a lot of money from property taxes and sales taxes away from this community,” he said. “We have to be a squeaky wheel to get some of the things we need, and we want to explore possible options to get more local control.” Don Swensen, a KPC director and chair of the Key Peninsula Land Use Commission, will chair that workgroup. He said they will look at opportunities to advance the community’s relationships at local, state and federal levels. (See “Governance on the Key Peninsula” in this issue). 

Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Mon-Fri. Call 253-432-4948, email keypencouncil@gmail.com, or mail to P.O. Box 13, Vaughn, WA 98394. The KPC conducts public meetings the second Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Key Center fire station. 

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