Category Archives: City Hall

Public participation encouraged for updating Comprehensive Plan

If you’re either happy or not pleased about the Visconsi shopping complex or other recent moves by the city or City Council, Bainbridge Island residents will get a chance to have their voice heard as the city begins working on updating its Comprehensive Plan at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11.

As part of Thursday’s regularly scheduled Planning Commission meeting held in the Council Chamber, residents will learn how the recently created Comprehensive Plan Update-Navigate Bainbridge Steering Committee will develop a plan for the public’s involvement in the update.

The Steering Committee is comprised of City Council members Mayor Anne Blair, Sarah Blossom and Val Tollefson and Planning Commissioners Mack Pearl, Maradel Gale and Mike Lewars. The committee will work closely with city staff to help guide updating the Comprehensive Plan.

Developing the initial components of a public participation plan is the first task for the Steering Committee. The plan for public participation will be presented to residents attending Thursday’s meeting, which residents are encouraged to attend.

For more information about the Comprehensive Plan Update-Navigate Bainbridge, and participation, visit People can also sign-up to receive email updates on the Comprehensive Plan Update by going to and choosing Navigate Bainbridge.

Questions about the Comprehensive Update-Navigate Bainbridge can also be emailed to or by calling Special Project Planner Jennifer Sutton, in the city’s Department of Planning & Community Development, at 206-842-3772.

City Council noticing proliferation of sandwich boards

Photo by Ethan Fowler / Special to the Kitsap Sun A pedestrian crosses Ericksen Avenue as he walks along Winslow Way next to a number of business sandwich boards.
Photo by Ethan Fowler / Special to the Kitsap Sun
A pedestrian crosses Ericksen Avenue as he walks along Winslow Way next to a number of business sandwich boards.

Even though last month the Bainbridge City Council pleased Winslow Way merchants with the process it and the city took in updating an ordinance for the retail use of sidewalks for cafes and displays, the City Council is still keeping a close eye on the seemingly growing use of sandwich boards by island businesses.

At the July 21 meeting, council member Steve Bonkowski wanted to add an item under council discussion about sandwich boards since a number of people had made comments about the influx of sandwich boards and trees advertising a hospital on public land. Bonkowski said he would refrain from talking about the use of the trees for another time and would focus the discussion on sandwich boards.

“At least to me, there are a lot more (sandwich boards) than I ever envisioned possible,” Bonkowski said. “It’s almost as if we’re deforesting the island to make sandwich boards.”

Bonkowski said it appeared there were two different varieties of sandwich boards: ones that advertise to consumers to “come on in” and others that direct the locations of businesses.

City Manager Doug Schulze said that on July 21 that the city’s Code Compliance officer found 39 signs from Madison Avenue, along Winslow Way, to State Route 305 with two violations. On July 18, the Code Compliance officer found 43 signs and only two violations for multiple signs that were off-site.

Schulze said he’s aware businesses use sandwich boards also on High School Road.

During the recent economic downturn, Schulze said cities often gave businesses more latitude on sandwich boards for advertising. Schulze also used a PowerPoint presentation to show the City Council some examples of how cities, including Seattle, use uniform directional signs to direct people to businesses.

“It doesn’t look like it’s a matter of people not complying with the current ordinance, it looks like it’s just what the current ordinance allows,” Schulze said. “What I would suggest is we look at the (sign) ordinance, but at the same time that we’re working with the businesses so that we can find some solutions that can work with the businesses as well. Rather than just looking at eliminating the signage.”

Bonkowski then asked Schulze whether something could be done this summer to impact the issue.

“I think it would be pretty difficult to get something constructed and installed that quickly,” Schulze said. “But, I think, certainly for next summer, it’s a reasonable timeframe.”

Council member Wayne Roth noted there are city directories in the Bainbridge ferry terminal and Columbia Bank that are updated, already in place and providing solutions to the situation. Roth said he’s used them many times with tourists who needed help finding food and clothing locations.

“There’s always been – old Winslow Way/new Winslow Way – some sandwich boards somewhere,” Roth said. “But it is now that everyone has one out and ‘Now I need one, too, (philosophy)’ and it has gotten to be … hard to find a business without one.”

Schulze said he planned to have a discussion with the business community about sandwich boards in the near future and revisit the issue with the City Council possibly as early as September.

Any change in the city’s sign ordinance would require public hearings.

Study indicates Bainbridge boasts large tenured city workforce

During a presentation on a citywide study of job classification and compensation by Milliman Inc. of Seattle, Bainbridge City Council members learned during Monday night’s meeting that Bainbridge Island city employees receive approximately 9 percent above the market median (50th percentile) when comparing actual salaries.

The compensation analysis was from 34 cities that responded to Milliman’s request. Most of the responding cities were primarily from Washington, but some were from Oregon, said Greg McNutt, a compensation consultant and principal with Milliman. Yakima, Renton, Spokane Valley, Marysville and Lakewood were some of the municipalities that responded.

“You have a lot of tenured people here,” McNutt told the Council. “You have 86 percent of the people that are at the top step.”

Some of the recommendations given by McNutt for managing the city’s staff included:

— Managing base salaries toward its intended market position. This action will maintain desired market target.

— Maintaining benefits in their current form. This will provide employees both the opportunity to save for retirement and act as a safety net against unforeseen health issues.

— Maintaining salary structured at their current range width, but create mores steps within each grade with annual increments of approximately 3 percent between steps. This would cause pay progression problems to diminish over time.

— Manage high fixed costs of base salaries.

McNutt’s presentation to the City Council was for information only and no action was taken on it.

City needs volunteers for its advisory groups

Are you passionate about particular issues on Bainbridge Island?

Until 5 p.m. Friday, May 16, the City of Bainbridge Island will be taking applications for residents who would like to volunteer their time to one of nine citizen advisory groups.

Opening are on the Design Review Board, Environmental Technical Advisory Committee, Ethics Board, Harbor Commission, Historic Preservation Commission, Non-Motorized Transportation Advisory Committee, Planning Commission, Roads Ends Advisory Committee and Utility Advisory Committee.

Advisory group volunteers are appointed and receive no compensation for the time.

If you have questions, contact City Clerk Roz Lassoff at or (206) 780-8624.

City hires first community engagement specialist

Kellie Stickney beat out at least 29 other applicants to be named the city’s community engagement specialist – a new position that aims to help Bainbridge Island do a better job of telling its story.

The advertisement for the opening boasted an annual salary ranging from $62,595 to $78,499.

Stickney, 31, comes to the island with 10 years of experience working with nonprofits and cities such as Lynnwood and Sea-Tac. For the past four years, she has worked as the marketing and outreach director for Seattle’s SustainableWorks, a nonprofit general contractor and energy efficiency program.

“It is an honor to have the opportunity to use my skills and experience to serve the residents of Bainbridge Island as their community engagement specialist,” said Stickney, who will start her new job March 10. “I’m looking forward to working with residents and city staff to build an even stronger and more connected Bainbridge community.”

Stickney, who was born and raised in Hermiston, Ore., earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Gonzaga University in 2004 and a master’s of public administration from the University of Washington in 2009.

Kellie Stickney starts working as the city of Bainbridge Island's first community engagement specialist March 10.
Kellie Stickney starts working as the city of Bainbridge Island’s first community engagement specialist March 10.

Paulson lawsuit moves to March 24 hearing

By Ethan Fowler
Special to the Kitsap Sun
PORT ORCHARD — Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Jeanette Dalton denied a motion to dismiss a Public Records Act complaint Friday and forced a hearing to determine whether the act was violated for 9 a.m. March 24.
The Public Records Act (PRA) complaint by plaintiffs Althea Paulson, a political blogger for her website Bainbridge Notebook, and Bob Fortner, a self-described community watchdog, alleges two current Council members, Steve Bonkowski and David Ward, along with former Council member Debbie Lester, used personal email accounts to conduct city business last year about the water utility.
In January, Lester was dropped from the amended complaint.
“I made (Judge Dalton) an argument that she hadn’t even thought about,” said Dan Mallove, attorney for the plaintiffs and Paulson’s husband, after 31-minute hearing. “The essence of the argument was when the council members refused to allow inspection of the hard drives of their personal computers, they were placing their own individual interests ahead of the community because they’re exposing the city to liability if there are responsive public documents on their computers and they’re not produced. And that’s a violation of the PRA.
“If they are placing their own individual interest ahead of the city and they’re wrong, then they should be personally liable for that, not the city.”
As she was leaving the courthouse following the hearing, attorney Jessica Goldman, who represents Ward and Bonkowski, said the March 24 hearing was “unwarranted.” According to her motion to dismiss filing, Goldman said the city did “conduct an adequate search and provided reasonably timely access to the requested public records.”
Mallove said Lester produced more than 100 documents, and Ward and Bonkowski fewer than 10 documents. In phone interviews Monday, Bonkowski confirmed Mallove’s document figure, but Ward said he had submitted “substantially more than 10 documents.”
“They were party to scores of these emails that Lester produced,” Mallove said. “We’re looking for the complete thread of the conversation and how do we know what’s not being produced. The public is at a disadvantage because we don’t know what’s out there.”
Dalton told both sides in the case that she thought the March 24 hearing could require a half day in court.

City Council moving toward switching meetings to Tuesdays

By Ethan Fowler

Special to the Kitsap Sun

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND – The seven members of Bainbridge’s City Council
unanimously moved in a direction to change its weekly meeting date
from Wednesdays to Tuesdays at its all-day retreat held at the
Bainbridge Island Museum of Art Jan. 24.

New council member Val Tollefson first broached the idea of changing
the day the Council meets at the Jan. 15 meeting. He cited the change
would allow more time for city staff to do Council work since there’d
be more days to work before weekends and that council members would be
able to read agendas on weekends.

At the retreat, Council member David Ward said he thought the current
day of Wednesday was “horrible” due to the challenges it causes when
he needs to book flights around it due to his work.

Mayor Anne Blair said before the day the Council meets could change,
it would have to be formalized through a vote at an upcoming meeting
because the date is set by an ordinance. Prior to meeting on
Wednesdays starting in 2002, the Council met on Thursdays from
1991-2001, on Mondays from 1965 to 1991 and on Tuesdays from 1947 to
1965, City Clerk Roz Lassoff said.

In addition to changing when the Council meets, the Council also
talked about possibly moving the location of its work sessions to
various centers around the island and conducting those meetings at
tables instead of their elevated Council seats. This would promote a
“more free flow” and exchange of ideas, Council member Roger Townsend said.

The Council also discussed the projects it wanted to complete by the
end of 2014 with moderator Patrick Ibarra, who traveled from
Glendale, Ariz. Looking at the priorities through lenses of “must,”
“need” and “nice,” the Council’s projects included:

—  Shoreline Management Program

—  Biennium budget

—  Comprehensive Plan (land use)

—  Completing all the road projects

—  Transportation Master Plan draft

—  Waterfront Park plan completed and agreed upon

—  Telecommunications ordinance passed with relationships with
companies to improve the island’s cell phone service

—  Agriculture ordinance, possibly to include marijuana and trees

—  Plans to address city workforce demographics

“This is a lot of work,” Ibarra told the Council at the conclusion of
the eight-hour meeting. “You’re setting yourself up for a big year.”

PSE to replace towers on Agate Passage; meeting Tuesday


Puget Sound Energy plans to replace two steel lattice towers that support transmission lines spanning Agate Passage.

The lattice towers were installed in the late 1960s and are reaching the end of their usable lifespans. PSE plans to replace the towers with four steel poles. The upgrade will help prevent transmission lines from failing and interrupting the island’s power supply, according the the PSE project page.

“By replacing the two existing lattice towers with four new steel poles, we can ensure the transmission lines will remain safe and reliable for many years to come.”

PSE is applying for city permits for the project this fall. Construction will likely take place in the summer of 2014 or 2015.

A public participation meeting for the project is scheduled from 4-7 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall. A short presentation will be given at about 5:30 p.m. The meeting is a requirement of the permit application process.

More information is available on the project page. A letter to customers and a map of the project area are embedded below:

Agate Pass Tower Replacement_Community Update by tsooter

30 apply to be Bainbridge public works director


The city has chosen eight semifinalists for its public works director position. The semifinalists were selected from a pool of 30 applicants from 17 states, according to the Friday city manager’s newsletter.

Six of the eight semifinalists are from Washington. One semifinalist is from Texas, and one is from Indiana. The semifinalists will complete a brief online interview. Finalists will be selected Oct. 1. The finalists will visit the island in mid-October for more extensive interviews.

The city is searching for a permanent replacement for Lance Newkirk, who resigned this spring. John Cunningham is serving as interim public works director.

No Fort Ward Hill project this year


Scheduling conflicts have forced the city to postpone work on Fort Ward Hill Road until next year.

The City Council awarded a $700,000 contract for road reconstruction and shoulder widening in July and a public outreach meeting was held Aug. 19. The project was supposed to begin late this summer but the contractor ran into scheduling conflicts with private utility companies working in the area said Interim Public Works Director John Cunningham. With rainy weather descending, the work was postponed until the spring of 2014.

“The last thing we want to do is open it up and not get it paved before the wet winter weather hits here,” Cunningham said during a recent briefing to the City Council.

This is the second phase of work on Fort Ward Hill Road. Contractors will rebuild the street between Bolero Drive and Sunny Hill Circle, and widen shoulders to 5 feet on both sides. An additional 700 feet of guardrail, rockeries and drainage will be installed.

The first phase of the project rebuilt the roadway between Country Club Road and Bolero Drive in 2008.

Check the project page for updates.




Bainbridge making strides in online outreach




As promised, new City Manager Doug Schulze has made public outreach a priority.

City Hall has taken gradual steps to up its web presence over the last year, including the launch of a city manager Twitter account this week. It’s also experimenting with new online tools for residents.

Here are some outreach improvements the city has made recently, in no particular order:

  • Schulze sends out a weekly city manager’s report via email (sign up here). It’s become useful resource for staying on top of city news.
  • Public works utilizes a system called SeeClickFix (sample pictured below). It allows residents to use their mobile devices to report hazards like oil spills and potholes, and track the city response.


More improvements are on the way. Schulze is putting the finishing touches on a communications plan to present to the City Council soon and expects to launch a new city website in late November.

Rockaway Beach Road repair requires three-month closure

blog.rockawayLong awaited repairs on crumbling Rockaway Beach Road will begin next week, accompanied by a road closure.

A traffic detour will be in effect for the duration of the stabilization project, according to a Wednesday bulletin from the city. The city expects the road to be closed near Creosote Lane from about Aug. 21 through the end of November.

A map of the detour route is below. More updates are available on the Rockaway Beach project page.

Rockaway Detour by tsooter