Category Archives: City Hall

Leash ordinance changes will likely be discussed next study session

blog.dogpark

Although the Bainbridge Island City Council did not discuss updating the animal ordinance during Tuesday’s meeting, it is expected to be on the council’s next study session agenda.

The proposed changes would require dog owners to leash their dogs in the Winslow and Lynwood Center business areas, as well as city parks. A story in last week’s Islander incorrectly stated the changes would not apply to city-owned parks. The story has been updated online.

The potential ordinance change also would include that the school and park district require dogs to be leashed on their property.

In recent years, the park district has had incidents of off-leash dogs intimidating or injuring people as well as horses.

Under the current city code, dog owners can face up to $1,000 fine for not preventing their dogs from intimidating or injuring pedestrians or cyclists.

Owners failing to keep their dog under voice control or leashed face a citation and up to a $300 fine.

There are no proposed changes to the ordinance’s penalties.

Time for another bridge?

Bainbridge Island Mayor Ann Blair, left, and I during a live video chat with Ed Friedrich.
Bainbridge Island Mayor Ann Blair and I during a live video chat with Ed Friedrich.

Kitsap Sun transportation reporter Ed Friedrich and I had a live video discussion with Mayor Anne Blair on Thursday evening about the future of Agate Pass Bridge and Highway 305 congestion.

Don’t worry if you weren’t able to make it to the live chat, we recorded the conversation and you can watch it below from the Kitsap Sun’s YouTube channel.

City cutting the cord on Blink car charging station

charging-station
A Blink charging station in Port Orchard. Kitsap Sun file photo.

Electric car owners will have a working charging station in Winslow.

A Chargepoint Electric Vehicle station will be put in place of the Blink station that has been “out of service for quite some time,” said Barry Loveless, Bainbridge Island public works director.

The Blink station has been down for several months and has been working intermittently for about a year.

The situation will be different with Chargepoint, Loveless said.

“They have a good record of maintenance and response to service,” he said.

To repair the current station, Blink wanted keep 60 percent of the profits from the station and have the city to agree to an exclusive 4-year contract that would allow only Blink stations at city facilities.

Chargepoint will keep only 10 percent of the fees, and the city will have full control of setting the fees with a 3-year contract.

The city will even be able to monitor the usage online, including the time and hours of usage.

“We can be as sophisticated as we want to be as far as setting the rates,” Loveless said.

That was not the case with Blink.

Blink had not been as forthcoming with usage data, said Rex Oliver, Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce president.

While the new station will have two charging cables, there will only be one designated spot for electric car charging like there is now.

“Until there is a proven need, which we would learn by the use of [the new charging station], I am not in favor of taking a new spot,” Mayor Ann Blair said. “The advantage is we will learn what the demand is.”

The new station is estimated to cost about $8,200.

Community resource officer could help mend relationships with residents

 Bainbridge Island Police Department evidence technician Jennifer Cooper, Lt. Chris Jensen and Reserve Officer Mark Crowthers inspect ammunition turned in by a Bainbridge resident in 2013. TAD SOOTER / KITSAP SUN
Bainbridge Island Police Department evidence technician Jennifer Cooper, Lt. Chris Jensen and Reserve Officer Mark Crowthers inspect ammunition turned in by a Bainbridge resident. TAD SOOTER / KITSAP SUN

Bainbridge Island Police Department is looking to improve its once rocky relationship with residents through a designated community resource officer.

“When you have that good relationship of trust between officers and the community, we’re more effective,” said Police Chief Matthew Hamner.

City Council unanimously gave the department the go-ahead to apply for a federal grant that would cover 75 percent of the $100,000 annual salary and benefits of the community resource officer for three years. The department would cover the full cost the fourth year.

The community resource officer would be responsible for community related events and programs with the department, such as the citizen police academy, neighborhood watches and the police youth advisory group.

The community resource officer would be a liaison for the island schools, although it would be up to the schools how often the officer meets with students.

While the district has been without a school resource officer for more than a decade, there might not be a great demand for one just yet.

The district recently determined students and parents felt safe at the schools based on surveys and meetings with the police department, said Galen Crawford, communications specialist with Bainbridge Island School District.

Although residents don’t have a safety concern for the schools, community trust in the police department was waning and the City Council was split on whether to support a school resource officer before Hamner became chief in June 2013.

In May 2011, the council stalled in a 3-3 vote to apply for a school resource officer grant.

The city manager at the time, Brenda Bauer, blamed a Facebook post by Officer Michelle Vollmer for turning the council against the grant, a post Vollmer said was a joke.

Vollmer’s Facebook comment was one of a string of issues the Bainbridge Island Police faced.

In October 2010, a Bainbridge officer shot and killed a mentally ill man during a welfare check, ending in a $1.4 million lawsuit settlement and a federal jury finding the city and then Police Chief Jon Fehlman at fault for not providing enough training for handling situations with mentally ill residents.

Another officer — president of the Bainbridge police guild at the time — was accused of harassing City Council members the same month as the fatal shooting.

During the summer of 2011, the department hired a volunteer reserve officer — giving him a badge and the authority to carry a gun — who had a criminal history, including a misdemeanor assault charge and a weapons charge.

City Council learned about the reserve officer’s background a couple months after he was hired, and he was asked to resign.

Fehlman was the Bainbridge Island police chief during each of these issues. He resigned in September 2012.

Public support for the police department has been increasing, Hamner said, citing the council’s approval for a community resource officer and the police department having more residents apply for the citizen police academy than there were spots available.

“I think the chief has shown he has the best interest of this community and our children at hand time and time again,” said resident Dominique Cantwell, a former board member of the Bainbridge Youth Services.

A full story on the community resource officer grant will be available on the Kitsap Sun website.

This post has been updated to include a response from the school district.

Plaintiffs in public records lawsuit fire back at councilman’s letter to the editor

A screen shot of part of Paulson's blog that fires back against Councilman Steve Bonkowski's recent letter to the editor.
A screen shot of part of Paulson’s blog that fires back against Councilman Steve Bonkowski’s recent letter to the editor.

Althea Paulson, who filed a public records lawsuit with Bob Fortner against Bainbridge Island in 2013, says in a blog post that she and Fortner do not agree with Councilman Steve Bonkowski’s version of the lawsuit in a recent letter to the editor.

Paulson and Fortner’s lawsuit said Bonkowski, Councilman David Ward and Councilwoman Debbi Lester violated city policy and the state Public Records Act by using personal email accounts to conduct city business and later withholding the documents.

In May, a Kitsap County Superior Court judge ruled city officials didn’t perform an “adequate” search for documents on Bonkowski’s and Ward’s personal computers.

Paulson and Fortner had requested documents regarding the city’s utilities, Utility Advisory Committee and the performance of employees.

Lester was dropped from the lawsuit as an individual at the beginning of last year after she turned over requested documents. She left the board at the end of her term in 2013.

Ward offered to resign as part of a $500,000 settlement from the city to Paulson and Fortner in December 2014.

Bonkowski is still a council member and is up for reelection in November.

In his letter to the editor, Bonkowski said he did not conduct city business on his personal email account and turned over emails in a timely manner.

“The Paulson/Fortner lawsuit has confused, disappointed, and divided our community, and now is poised to extract over half a million dollars from taxpayers,” he wrote. “I am pained to think that I may carry any responsibility for these circumstances. I want the community to know that I did not conduct city business from my private email account, and I did turn over my emails to the city in a timely manner for the public records request. What I did not do is provide my personal computer hard drive as part of that public records request.

“From the beginning of the records requests, and prior to the lawsuit, the requesters demanded access to council members’ private computer hard drives. Turning over one’s hard drive is not required by state law, nor the Public Records Act; the City did not ask council members to turn over personal computer hard drives.”

Paulson, Fortner and their attorney, Dan Mallove, disagree with multiple points in Bonkowski’s letter.

“Neither Paulson nor Fortner ever made a demand for access to anyone’s computer hard drive, before or after the filing of the lawsuit. Their records requests asked only that the City produce specified public records involving council members, ‘whether those records are on their private email accounts or otherwise,’” the blog post says.

You can read Bonkowski’s letter in full, as well as the reply letter on Paulson’s blog.

You also can read Councilman Val Tollefson’s letter to the editor about the settlement being an expensive lesson for the city.

Council narrows site options for police headquarters

Bainbridge Island police car

City Council nixed two locations from its site list for a new Bainbridge Island Police headquarters Tuesday night.

The council discussed four different options, removing the Visconsi development location and the city-owned gravel lot by City Hall, because both sites were viewed problematic locations.

Expansion at the gravel lot could affect future retail development options downtown, while the Visconsi location was seen as too far away from City Hall as well as having potential traffic issues.

The two locations still being considered are a site on Madison Avenue, adjacent to the north of City Hall, and 1.89-acres along New Brooklyn Road by Bainbridge Island Fire Station 21 on Madison Avenue, which was assessed for $232,000. A nearby 2.1 acre parcel to the New Brooklyn Road site sold for $1.3 million in November 2013, according to city documents.

The city will not provide any additional information on the property north of City Hall at this time, said City Spokeswoman Kellie Stickney.

Last fall, City Council voted 5-2 against a joint police and fire station.

City Manager Doug Schulze said the goal was to have the police headquarters near City Hall, while other council members voiced concerns about being a tenant to the fire department.

A Seattle architectural firm presented the idea of a joint facility by the fire station along New Brooklyn Road, where the city is considering purchasing 1.89 acres for a police station.

The architectural firm found in June that building a joint facility would cost $15.3 million, versus $17.6 million for building them separately. A June phone poll of 200 island residents found 87 percent favored a combined facility.

While location was the primary concern for the Visconsi location, couple council members had issue with the price tag of the site as well.

The Visconsi $2.05 million price tag includes the land, cost of a new road, utilities and project costs.

Bradley Goldberg, vice president of development, told Schulze in an email earlier this month there would need to be a “quick close” in 60 to 90 days to sell the city the land at $2.05 million.

Councilman Wayne Roth said he saw the Visconsi development offer as a “really strong invitation not to located there,” because the city had repeatedly asked for more information and a presentation nearly two months ago that were never provided.

The city had asked about the option to own the land after a lease, but was instead given a rent option.

Last month, Visconsi developers sent the city a letter of intent, outlining a general 20-year rental agreement with the city. The 24,500 square-foot building would be two stories. Rent would start at $943,250 a year and increase 10 percent every five years, being about $1.255 a year after 15 years, totaling more than $21 million over 20 years. The city would have the option to renew the lease every five years before an increase with the ability to end the lease with one year notice.

The city would be responsible for traffic impact fees, wiring and building the interior, including drywall, first floor slab, flooring and lighting.

The city is continuing to seeking other sites.

This post was updated to correct who owns the property on Madison Avenue by City Hall and typos from the City Council agenda, including information for the New Brooklyn Road property.

Michael Scott joins the City Council

Michael Scott, a Seattle lawyer, was appointed to the Bainbridge Island City Council by a 4-2 vote Thursday. RACHEL ANNE SEYMOUR / KITSAP SUN
Michael Scott, a Seattle lawyer, was appointed to the Bainbridge Island City Council by a 4-2 vote Thursday. RACHEL ANNE SEYMOUR / KITSAP SUN

Michael Scott — no, not Michael Scott from The Office — became the new Bainbridge Island council member by a 4-2 vote Thursday night.

Scott, an attorney with Hillis Clark Martin & Peterson in Seattle, has lived on the island since 1989. And he served on the Bainbridge Island School Board from 2001 to 2004.

His law practice focuses on litigation between commercial disputes, as well as arbitration and mediation.

Scott is capable of working with a “strong-willed group of people,” Councilman Val Tollefson said.

Tollefson also noted his work with the school board and community groups.

Scott was a board member of Elderhealth Northwest — now Full Life Care — from 1992 until 1998, and is a committee member of Pride Foundation, a regional organization that “works to expand opportunities and advance full equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people across the Northwest.”

Scott said in his application for the position that his top three priorities as a council member would be balancing development with open space, improving infrastructure surrounding the ferry terminal and maintaining economic business centers — downtown Winslow, Lynwood Center and Rolling Bay, among others.

Councilman Roger Townsend said that Scott’s interest in running in the November election and his commitment to the position long-term impressed him.

Scott was one of two candidates who said they would be interested in running for election. John Green was the other candidate. The three others, Monica Aufrecht, Gary Pettersen and Joe Levan, said they would consider running after weighing the job responsibilities with their careers and family lives.

Greg Millerd withdrew his application after he realized he could not attend the interview Thursday night.

Roger Townsend, Wayne Roth, Sarah Blossom and Mayor Anne Blair voted for Scott.

Steve Bonkowski voted for Monica Aufrecht and Val Tollefson voted for Joe Levan.

Check the Kitsap Sun website for a full story tomorrow.

Don’t even think about cheese Friday

Kitsap Sun file photo
Kitsap Sun file photo

Cheese — the iconic image of Wisconsin — isn’t allowed at City Hall this Blue Friday, as the Seahawks prepare to take on the Packers on Sunday in Seattle.

City Manager Doug Schulze has banned the consumption of cheese and cheese-flavored foods in City Hall on Jan. 16, 2015, and everyone is talking about it. The story has hit national news and is being reported by ESPN, Yahoo, CBS and others.

Because the ban includes all cheese flavored foods, we’re guessing Cheese Whiz is included, but who eats that stuff anyway?

Packers fans also are banning Seattle related items in a battle of what team has the most ridiculous — err, best — fans. Some Wisconsin radio stations are refusing to play music by Seattle-based musicians like Nirvana and Heart.

Surprisingly enough, there are some Packers fans living on Bainbridge Island.

And if any of them really want to ruffle some Seahawks feathers in opposition of the ban, they can take their cheese into City Hall in a plastic bag.

One city council candidate withdraws application

Greg Millerd has withdrawn his application for the City Council’s open seat after realizing he could not make Thursday night’s interviews for the position.

During the Jan. 13 council meeting, the board discussed letting Millerd participate by phone or Skype because he had a family event planned out of town. He told the council he did not know when or where he would have cellphone service.

The five remaining candidates are Monica Aufrecht, John Green, Joe Levan, Gary Pettersen and Michael Scott.

You can read their bios on a previous blog post.

Revisiting waterfront park’s priorities

Participants in a city park visioning meeting walk the Waterfront trail in 2013. Photo by TAD SOOTER / KITSAP SUN
Participants in a city park visioning meeting walk the Waterfront trail in 2013. Photo by TAD SOOTER / KITSAP SUN

Eagle Harbor Waterfront Park and its new dock will be back on the city council agenda after the board rescinded last week’s vote following public outcry on the decision to prioritize the dock.

During the Jan. 6, the council voted 4-2 to phase in park construction as funds are available, because anticipated grant money didn’t come through and left the city $835,000 short on the project.

Council members disputed the original vision of the park priority and some noted the project had been listed as an information only item on last week’s agenda.

Councilman Wayne Roth and Mayor Anne Blair said the motion that passed last week in favor of prioritizing a new dock was also unclear.

Roth, who voted against last week’s motion, said that he isn’t against a new dock and had understood funding for it would be dealt with depending on what grant money was available.

The new dock is estimated to cost a little more than $2 million, and the park improvements about $1 million. Without the grant funds, the city has $2,232,000 for the project, leaving less than $250,000 for the park after paying for the dock.

Sarah Blossom and Steve Bonkowski voted against rescinding the vote Tuesday night.

Bonkowski said he didn’t believe the council was going in the wrong direction by prioritizing the dock, which he views as dangerous.

The city began looking at updating waterfront park last summer to improve the 5.5-acre park space and dock, which is more than 30 years old. Its 20 concrete floats and 23 piles are deteriorating, and also contain toxic creosote.

Along with a new dock, park improvements would include connecting trails to neighborhoods, along with ADA accessible paths and a viewing plaza or vendor area. The current plans call for turning the tennis court into a “multiuse area.”

Bonkowski said he understand previous discussions on the park concept to be for water access and “water access includes a dock.”

The project has been added to the Jan. 20 agenda for discussion and public comment.

A full story will be online with the Kitsap Sun on Wednesday.

Mother-in-law houses could get size boost

Increasing the allowed size of accessory dwelling units, commonly called mother-in-law houses, could be one way Bainbridge Island handles affordable housing and density concerns.

The city’s current code says mother-in-law units cannot be larger than 800 square feet.

Local architect Jeb Thornburg told the council that is a “reasonably sized” single person or couple’s home, although a 900-square-feet mother-in-law unit could have two bedrooms and be more family friendly or allow for live-in caregivers.

Thornburg said there could be “significant market demand, significant market value” by increasing the threshold.

Poulsbo also has an 800 square-feet limit for mother-in-law units with the stipulation that they can be bigger if the unit is located on the ground floor or a basement.

The county allows 900 square-feet or 50 percent of the primary residence’s square footage, whichever is smaller.

Port Orchard has the same restrictions as the county, while Bremerton allows for the largest mother-in-law units at 1,000 square feet or 60 percent of the primary residence’s square footage, whichever is smaller. Bremerton also has a minimum of 300 square feet.

The city of Bainbridge Island has permitted 280 mother-in-law units since 1992, although others could have been permitted by the county or built without permits, said Kathy Cook, City Planning and Community Development director.

The council did not take any action with plans to discuss the increase at another meeting.

City manager’s review is out, goals for 2015 set

Bainbridge Island City Manager Doug Schulze at City Hall in 2013. Photo by MEEGAN M. REID / KITSAP SUN
Bainbridge Island City Manager Doug Schulze at City Hall in 2013. Photo by MEEGAN M. REID / KITSAP SUN

The City Council is set to approve the city manager’s performance evaluation Tuesday night.

Doug Schulze has been with Bainbridge Island since the City Council tabbed him for the position in late 2012.

Before he became city manager, the city had been through five city managers — two of which were interims — in a four-year span.

Schulze’s recent evaluation says that the council is “pleased” overall with his performance in 2014, rating his leadership at 8.29 on a 1-10 scale.

The three areas the council members all ranked his work as “excellent” were ethics, job knowledge and professional development.

The areas Schulze could improve on are delegating, forging comprises and risk management, the evaluation says.

It also says a couple council members “perceive the City Manager to be too cautious and risk adverse [sic]. This could be tied to comments under the Timing category in which some Councilors suggested that Doug’s cautiousness may translate into him taking too long to make a decision or implement a decision.”

The council also laid out the city manager’s goals for this year:

  1. Ensure the council has informed and engaging discussions and debates about public policy.
  2. Keep the council informed about city progress in transforming into a High Performing Organization.
  3. Reach agreement with the council on four to six responsibilities that he will be responsible for and provide quarterly updates on.

Read the full review and goals.

Other items on the Jan. 13 agenda include potentially changing the land clearing code and going over the appointment process for a new City Council member, which is set to happen Thursday.

Interviews with the six candidates start at 6 p.m. Thursday followed by an executive session.

The council will publicly vote on the appointee that same night.