Category Archives: City Hall

Going all the way with green energy?

420524_5531137_ver1.0_640_480City Council will discuss buying 100 percent green energy for the city’s electricity at its next business meeting in two weeks.

Puget Sound Energy’s Green Power Program relies more on wind, bio-gas and solar-energy sources instead of coal.

About 13 percent of the city’s electricity is from green energy, costing about $3,000 a year. The city spends a total of $330,000 a year on electricity, and going to all green power would cost the city an additional $15,000 a year.

The council decided to buy 13 percent green power from PSE last year, matching the percent of residents that use green power.

Two other Washington cities buy 100 percent green energy, said Heather Mulligan, PSE market manager. Those cities are Lacey and Bellingham.

City invests in phase II of Ferncliff Village

The first phase of Ferncliff Village development. (Brad Camp/Special to the Kitsap Sun)
The first phase of Ferncliff Village development. (Brad Camp/Special to the Kitsap Sun)

City Council agreed Tuesday to provide $150,000 for phase II of the Ferncliff Village, an affordable housing development by Housing Resources Bainbridge on the island.

Phase II will include 16 two and three bedroom townhomes, a playground and trails. Each townhome will cost about $200,000, according to the development’s website.

Housing Resources Bainbridge started the first phase of the development in 2011 and sold all of the homes by the fall of 2013.

The city will contribute $75,000 a year for two years after Housing Resources Bainbridge has a construction loan agreement.

Payments from the city will be reimbursements, and Housing Resources Bainbridge must submit receipts.

Parking proposed for Manitou Beach Drive

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A view from along Manitou Beach Drive. (Kitsap Sun file photo)

The city is proposing a “small parking area” on Manitou Beach Drive, making it easier for residents and guests to enjoy the city-owned waterfront property.

While there are views of Puget Sound and Seattle from the shoreline, Manitou Beach Drive is a narrow two-lane road without shoulders.

The city owns .13 acre of waterfront land across the street from 9865 Manitou Beach Drive, according  to the county parcel search.

The city owns about another acre next to 9865 Manitou Beach Drive, where six parking spots are being proposed.

A public meeting Wednesday night will help identify how many parking spots are needed or wanted for access to the waterfront, said Mark Epstein with the city’s capital projects coordinator.

The public meeting is at 6:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at City Hall, 280 Madison Avenue.

Manitou Beach Parking Alternative--six stall

Creative Space for artists proposed off Day Road

Bainbridge Island architect Michael Wangen talks to residents about the proposed Creative Space development.
Bainbridge Island architect Michael Wangen talks to residents about the proposed Creative Space development.

Developers and Bainbridge Island residents Dave Christianson and Terry McGuire shared details and took questions about their proposed community workspace for arts and artisan Monday night during a public meeting.

Christianson is with Tseng Properties, LLC, which is leading the development on a 4.5-acre property off of Day Road near the Bainbridge Island Saddle Club’s facility.

Only 1.5 acres of the site is buildable land because of wetlands, said Michael Wangen, the Bainbridge Island architect working on the project.

Construction on the 10-building project, known as Creative Space, could start as early as this summer and be finished in six to 12 months, said Christianson.

Island Craft, a similar artist development, is being constructed nearby Creative Space on Day Road.

All 10 of the Creative Space buildings are 40 feet by 48 feet, and proposed uses include boat and vehicle restoration, woodwork, painting or sculpture work. Space is not intended to be used for office or retails space, although there could be display and sales events open to the public, Christianson said.

Two of the buildings would be 1.5 stories with a 1,920-square-foot garage on the first floor and a 920-square-foot loft above. One building would be a residence for the facility’s manager. No other units would have residential space.

Eight of the buildings would be divided into two studio spaces, each side about 960 square feet, with the possibility a 440-square-foot storage loft. Tenants could potentially rent the whole building.

The developers want to rent space at about 75 cents a square foot, they said Monday.

McGuire said the goal is to rent the 960-square-foot studios for about $720. A unit with a loft would be about $1,050. The final price would depend on construction costs, which are still unknown, she said.

McGuire and Christianson also live next to and have their own personal workspace by the proposed development. They have lived on the island for about 25 years, Christianson said.

Access to Creative Space would be off of the same gravel road used to drive to the Saddle Club facility and Manzanita Park.

There are no proposed changes to the road or its overhead tree canopy, although about a dozen Saddle Club members at Monday’s meeting voiced concerns about who would maintain the road with the new development.

There is an easement for the road use and the county will be looking into who is responsible for the road’s upkeep according to that easement, said Heather Beckmann, a planner with the city.

Christianson said he was “willing to pony up” and help maintain the road.

“If I am causing wear and tear on the road, I have to cover the expense,” he said.

Saddle Club members also were concerned whether the road could handle more traffic and how how safe it would be because it has mainly been used as a trail.

Juliet LeDorze suggested creating a trail alongside the road for equestrians and pedestrians.

Beckmann said the city would talk to the park district about that possibility.

The project is in the pre-application phase and there will be another public comment period after an application has been submitted to the city.

FCC approves radio station for the island

Kitsap Sun file photo
Kitsap Sun file photo

The Federal Communications Commission recently granted the city of Bainbridge Island a 10-year license to operate an AM information radio station.

The city expects to have the station — which will be transmitted on 600k Hz and 1700 kHz — broadcasting in late summer or fall, according to the city manager’s report.

The radio station will provide information about Amber Alerts, school incidents, bridge closures, earthquakes and other types of emergencies.

“During nonemergency times, the station could be used to inform motorists of street repairs, traffic hazards, community events, travel advisories, city history and even visitor information,” the report says.

The city has been working to start a radio station alongside Sustainable Bainbridge, an island nonprofit that created Bainbridge Community Broadcasting.

Bainbridge Community Broadcasting provides podcasts and radio shows online via its website.

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.