Help decide how the park district spends its open space dollars

After a sigh of relief that their levy passed, the Bainbridge park district is now rounding up residents interested in serving on a new committee that will guide the spending of almost $1 million a year for open space preservation.

The committee will operate much like the city’s Open Space Commission, which sought out and recommended properties for purchase.

If you haven’t read it already, check out the story I wrote last week on city and park efforts to preserve open space (I never did link it to this blog). I found that buying property was the easy part. Maintaining properties and making them accessible to the public was challenge…at least for the city. The park district aims to improve on the city’s open space program with designated funds for the basics of running a park: trash cans, signs, trail building and maintenance, etc. You can read that story here.

The park district sent in a hopeful letter this week about the new levy’s prospects. The letter is also an invitation to islanders to join the open space committee, and includes information on how to get involved.

Read it below.

The Board of Commissioners and Staff of the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park & Recreation District want to thank island voters for passing Proposition 1, the “park levy,” on November 4. Your confidence in us will allow us to do an even better job of saying “yes” to the park, recreation, and open space needs of Bainbridge’s growing population.

Your decision means that one agency will eventually manage all parks, eliminating duplication of effort and spending. We will be able to pick up land to fill the needs for parks in underserved areas of the island — particularly the Winslow core. Easements can be acquired to connect parks and neighborhoods. Aging fields and facilities can be upgraded and maintained. Access can be developed to existing open space properties. Access for the disabled and mobility impaired can be improved.

We appreciate the vision and tenacity of the dedicated group who worked hard to pass the levy with short notice. We also appreciate the opposing points of view voiced by those who had concerns. Rest assured that the process to determine how these funds are used will be open, public, transparent, and will encourage input from Bainbridge residents.

As required by the ballot language, a citizens’ committee will be established to advise the board regarding acquisitions and the initial development of facilities on any new properties purchased. We want to make sure a broad range of user interests is represented. The district will be placing ads in upcoming editions of the local papers asking for volunteers to serve on this committee. If you would like to participate, please refer to the ads for the necessary information or contact the park district at (206) 842-2306. You may also view the ad on the district’s Web site at

Beginning in January, as part of our budget amendment process, the board will conduct a series of public meetings and hearings to get your input on how you feel the levy proceeds should be invested. Times and places will be posted in the newspapers and on the district’s Web site. We hope to see you there. Once again, thank you for your vote of confidence and for the future of parks on Bainbridge.

Ken DeWitt, board chair

Terry Lande, executive director

Bainbridge Island Metropolitian Park & Recreation District