Category Archives: Environment

Agate Pass Bridge down to one lane for three weeks

Agate-Pass-Bridge

Agate Pass Bridge will be down to one lane for 21 days starting Feb. 9 for cleaning and inspection.

One lane will be closed 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7:45 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, according to Washington State Department of Transportation.

The bridge, which was built in 1950 and is more than 1,000 feet long, has about 22,000 vehicles cross a day

Bainbridge Island Mayor Anne Blair assured residents the council voiced their concern with WSDOT, along with Poulsbo city officials and the Suquamish Tribe, about traffic issues.

“The cries of ‘Are you kidding?’ and ‘Can you do something else?’ were loud,” Blair said. “They are certainly aware of the difficulties.”

Work cannot be done at night, because of safety and efficiency concerns, WSDOT said.

Workers will remove “yards of hardened debris and animal droppings by hand, a time-consuming and labor-intensive process.”

WSDOT has to remove the debris by hand, unless it can “fully encase” the bridge to meet water quality standards. The full-encasement requirement is too expensive for WSDOT, the agency said, and cleaning the bridge is the affordable alternative that meets the Clean Water Act requirements.

Crews also will repair and patch the bridge and roadway, sealing joints, replacing rivets and repairing damaged rails and walkway railing. If possible, they will remove rust from the bridge, too.

Bicyclists and pedestrians will be “escorted” across the bridge while work is being done, and “accommodations” will be made for emergency vehicles.

While the Chilly Hilly bike route does not go across the bridge, those going to the event Feb. 22 should expect delays.

The work is done in February to avoid the peregrine falcon nesting period. The falcon is a protected species and have historically nested on the bridge. February also has less traffic than summer months.

Freezing rain and snow could delay work on the bridge, which hasn’t been cleaned since 1991. It is inspected every two years, requiring lane closures then as well. It was last inspected in 2013.

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.

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.

Residents still torn over Suzuki property

While residents packed into a standing-room-only city council meeting Tuesday night to share suggestions on what to do with the city-owned Suzuki property, no action was taken and no new ideas were discussed by the council.

The property at the southeast corner of New Brooklyn and Sportsman Club Roads by Woodward Middle School is forested and has several trails. There are no wetlands, streams or steep slopes. There is a pond, but because it is man-made it does not meet the definition of a “critical area” under the city’s codes.

Residents continue to be torn between leaving the 13.83 acres of undeveloped land as is, using it for affordable housing, or allowing the school to use it for possible expansion in the future or outdoor education.

All of these ideas had previously been discussed at a public workshop last fall, where the Housing Resources Board, Housing Kitsap, Cutler Anderson Architects and Arcstudio each presented preliminary concepts to more than 100 residents.

According to multiple options presented to the city, the site could have anywhere from 45 to 75 housing units if developed.

Only 30 affordable units have been created on the island since 2002.

In 2000, the city purchased the land as a site for a police station and courthouse. Since then it was decided the property was too close to schools for a police station.

Some residents were concerned about increased traffic problems near the school with more housing.

Help us rank the top 10 Islander stories of 2014

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The tugboat Pacific Knight helps maneuver the state ferry Tacoma to the Bainbridge Island dock after it lost power while making the 12:20 p.m. sailing from Seattle to Bainbridge on July 29, 2014. MEEGAN M. REID / KITSAP SUN

We are asking readers to rank the top Bainbridge Islander stories from this past year in a survey. The top 10 will be posted on this blog.

You can take the survey here.

If you need to refresh your memory on a story,  they are listed below in no particular order with links:

 

Future of Bainbridge trees to be discussed at Saturday’s 13th Environmental Conference

Discussing the significant loss of tree canopy over the last 15 years — from small developments to large, such as the Visconsi shopping complex — will be part of the Association of Bainbridge Communities’ 13th annual Environmental Conference.

The event will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 15, at the Waterfront Park Community Center, located at 370 Brien Way.

The conference will focus on:

— the importance of trees on islanders lifestyles,

— what the city of Bainbridge Island is planning,

— what is needed as part of a comprehensive tree retention ordinance,

— what other cities and counties are doing, and

— how residents can participate in the process.

Speakers included Kathy Wolf from the University of Washington’s School of Forestry, Olaf Ribeiro, an internationally recognized expert on tree health issues, Ben Thompson, urban forestry specialist with the Department of Natural Resources, and Nolan Rundquist, a Seattle City arborist, who will talk about the city’s efforts to retain trees.

The event will also include citizen activists from Whidbey Island, Jon Quitslund, a member of the Bainbridge Island Tree Ordinance Committee, and break-out sessions.

For more information, contact the Association of Bainbridge Communities at biabc2000@yahoo.com.

UPDATED: Historic tug Chickamauga dismantled, two pieces salvaged

Tristan Baurick/Kitsap Sun The Chickamauga pictured in February at its new dryland home in Port Townsend.
Tristan Baurick/Kitsap Sun
The Chickamauga pictured in February at its dryland home in Port Townsend.

***This story has been updated to include cost of the disposal, towing and other expenses, condition of the boat and the court date for the ship’s owner, 8:30 a.m. April 17.

The historic tugboat Chickamauga is no more.

Likely doomed by its poor condition and the prohibitive costs needed to restore it, neither individuals nor organizations could be found to rescue the troubled tug from being scrapped after it was towed 38 miles from Bainbridge Island’s Eagle Harbor to a Port Townsend marina Jan. 31.

America’s first full diesel-powered tugboat when it was built in 1915, the Chickamauga was disposed of the week of March 24 in Port Townsend, said Toni Weyman Droscher, the communications manager for the Aquatics Program of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. The contract for disposal was for $20,000, plus tax, said Melissa Ferris, the director of the state’s Derelict Vessel Removal Program.

Daily pumping, checking on the vessel, towing, escort through the haul-out process, decontamination of the boom, etc. was $25,435.35, Ferris said. Haul-out and storage at the Port of Port Townsend was $2,674.80, she added.

DNR took control of the derelict boat Jan. 16 under the state’s Derelict Vessels Act, which gives it the authority to take custody of a vessel when an owner allows it to become derelict or abandoned. Absent Chickamauga owner Anthony R. Smith did this when he failed to pay moorage and utility fees for nearly a year to Eagle Harbor Marina, totaling $8,560.30.

In addition to what he owes the marina and in legal fees, Smith also owes the Coast Guard for its expenses in responding to the Chickamauga’s October sinking, which total $140,000, and the Department of Ecology’s expenses for coordinating the spill cleanup with the Coast Guard, which total $2,000.

Smith was charged Jan. 15 with three criminal counts from the state attorney general’s office. His trial is set to begin in June 23 in Kitsap County Superior Court.

The Chickamauga sank Oct. 2, leaked about 400 gallons of petroleum and 10 gallons of lube oil in the waters of Eagle Harbor and was lifted by a crane Oct. 10.

“The 70-foot hull (of the Chickamauga) was deconstructed with an excavator,” Droscher said. “All recyclable items were separated. Debris was placed in a 30-yard container and handled by the local waste contractor, DM Disposal.”

The boat’s helm and throttle controls were saved and delivered by DNR to the Foss Waterway Seaport Museum in Tacoma this week to be restored and eventually put on display. The historical significance of the boat that Smith purchased for $1,000 in 2009 was important to retain for Joseph Govednik, the museum’s curator of collections and volunteer manager.

“It is important to preserve this, and all historic vessels, as they are subjected to less than ideal conditions being exposed to the elements of nature,” Govednik said. “Ultimately, all wood boats turn to dust, it’s a matter of time, so it is very important to preserve, protect and maintain these boats.

“I hope this can be a lesson and reminder, that these vessels require constant care and monitoring,” Govednik added. “Although the vessel is lost, we are very fortunate to take possession of the throttle controls and helm.”

Govednik said the museum doesn’t have immediate plans to display the Chickamauga artifacts, but hopes to use them in a future exhibition on tugboats to support stories of the region’s working waterfront past.

In addition to the throttle controls and helm, the silohette of the shell and ship’s log were likely some of the few original things remaining on the Chickamauga by the time the state took possession of the vessel. In fact, DNR had its marine archeologist and others inspect the ship and found the engines weren’t the original ones and that because there had been “so much retrofitting and renovation that it was really a shadow of its original self,” Droscher said.

“The engines were 671s, which were designed specifically for the landing craft for Normandy in World War II and they don’t have any historical value since they were stamped out (for mass production),” Eagle Harbor Marina Harbormaster Doug Crow said. “They weren’t maintaining it for historical value, their interest was in keeping the boat moving and working with it. There was very little to that boat that had significant value and they got the two items that were easily retrievable and it would’ve given them something to put in the museum and write about its history.”

The demise of the Chickamauga was taken hard by well-known Poulsbo watercolor artists Michael and Sarah Yaeger, who preserved the boat by painting it for their 2015 calendar. The couple were holding out hope the boat would be saved.

“We are both angry!” Michael said. “This boat was on the Historic Register and is the first diesel powered tug in the USA – surely this DNR group could’ve tried harder in the saving of her. This whole saga smacks of ‘raw raw expediency’ over our cultural responsibility for our heritage.

“The DNR bylaws should be looked at for any violation that may have occurred in this sordid mess,” Michael continued. “What’s next – the demolition of the Arthur Foss and the Virginia V? The Chickamauga played a more crucial – or at least equal – role in our maritime history.”

Contributed photo/DNR The helm and throttle controls are now all that remain of the Chickamauga after it was dismantled recently.
Contributed photo/DNR
The helm and throttle controls are now all that remain of the Chickamauga after it was dismantled recently.

Update: Hearing Examiner expects to make Visconsi decision no later than March 10

Story updated 3:45 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND – Attorneys involved in the proposed Visconsi shopping complex were requested by Bainbridge Hearing Examiner Stafford Smith to submit their briefs by Wednesday, Feb. 12, and Visconsi attorney Dennis Reynolds to submit his reply by Monday, Feb. 17.

Smith’s request on the final day of his hearings about the Visconsi project on Jan. 28, followed the Bainbridge Planning Commission voting 7-0 in November to recommend denying the proposed 62,000-square-foot shopping center. To be located on High School Road across the street from McDonald’s, the 8-acre complex would have a two-story medical facility, bank, drugstore, restaurants and other retailers.

Smith is looking at three parts to the Visconsi issue, a conditional use permit, a site plan review and a State Environmental Policy Act, Hearing Examiner Assistant Debbie Rose said.

Rose stated in an email Wednesday that Smith planned on having a decision in the case by March 10.

“Legal briefing by the parties is scheduled to be completed by 2/24/14 and the hearing examiner expects a decision to be issued within two weeks of that date,” Rose said.

When Smith reaches a decision on the Visconsi project it, Rose said will be posted on the city’s website.

Birding on Bloedel: A pair of bald eagles to watch for

“A Year of Birding in Bloedel” is a column that runs every Friday in the Bainbridge Islander. The project is planned to continue in 52 parts through 2014 to help readers find and identify birds in the island’s garden sanctuary. Beginning with this entry on the bald eagle, each column will also be published here on the Bainbridge Conversation blog each Friday. 

The author, Ted Anderson, is a retired professor of biology, having taught at McKendree University (Ill.) for 32 years and for the University of Michigan’s summer biological station for 20 years, where he frequently taught the biology of birds.

Anderson is also the author of “Biology of the Ubiquitous House Sparrow, from Genes to Populations” (2006), and “The Life of David Lack, Father of Evolutionary Ecology” (2013). Ted and his wife Carol have been members of Bloedel Reserve for 7 years. They live in Kingston. 

WA Eagle

A bald eagle sits in a tree overlooking Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island. (MEEGAN M. REID/KITSAP SUN)

Beginning in 2005, visitors to Bloedel were treated to wonderful views of the majestic bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) at a nest near the top of a tall Douglas Fir near the shore of Puget Sound behind the visitor’s center. The nest activity could be viewed from windows in the visitor’s center, or, at closer range, near the birch grove down the hill.

The former director, Richard Brown, took numerous photos of the nesting eagles, many of which are still on display in albums in the library of the Visitor’s Center. In July 2013, however, this magnificent, living display ended when the nest tree snapped off, dumping the nest and a full-grown but flightless eaglet, apparently unhurt, onto the beach below. The adults continued to feed their youngster on the beach until it was able to fly.

Long an important element of he cultures of many Native American tribes, the bald eagle was chosen as the national emblem of a fledgling new nation by the Continental Congress in 1782. This act did not come with an order of protection, however, and later bounties were established for the bald eagle and many other top predators including other birds of prey, wolves, coyotes and bears. Eagle numbers dropped dramatically due to this persecution, and eagles virtually disappeared from many parts of the lower 48.

Widespread use of DDT in the 1940s through the 1960s further reduced their numbers, driving them to near extirpation in the lower 48. DDT residues in the fat bodies of fish had a devastating effect on many top predators in the aquatic food chain due to a process known as bioamplification. The residues interfered with calcium metabolism in the eagles resulting in the thinning of their eggshells and resultant egg breakage and nest failure.

When the Endangered Species Act was passed in 1973 the bald eagle was one of the first species placed on the endangered species list. With the almost simultaneous ban on many uses of DDT the bald eagle population began a dramatic recovery in the continental United States. One of only a few such successes, the Bald Eagle was removed from the endangered species list in 2007. Many Americans who had never seen their national emblem in the wild now have had the opportunity to enjoy seeing this magnificent bird.

The Bloedel pair is still active in the areas near their old nest site. Listen for their high-pitched screeches emanating from the wilderness area adjacent to the site or from the conifers near the birch grove. They typically lay their eggs in February and the pair is now in active courtship.

Derelict tugboat to be towed Friday from Eagle Harbor

The historic tugboat Chickamauga will be towed out of Eagle Harbor Marina at 6 a.m. Friday. Photo / Ethan Fowler
The historic tugboat Chickamauga will be towed out of Eagle Harbor Marina at 6 a.m. Friday.
Photo / Ethan Fowler

By Ethan Fowler

Special to the Kitsap Sun

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND – The derelict historic tugboat Chickamauga is set to be towed out of Eagle Harbor Marina at 6 a.m. Friday, the Washington State Department of Natural Resources announced Thursday afternoon.

The abandoned tug, which sank in the harbor Oct. 2, leaked oil and diesel fuel, and was raised by a crane Oct. 10, will be towed to Boat Haven Marina in Port Townsend.

DNR took custody of the tugboat — the country’s first full diesel-powered tugboat when it was built in 1915 — on Jan. 16 after the owner didn’t to remove the vessel from Eagle Harbor Marina. The state attorney general’s office also filed three criminal charges against the owner on Jan. 15.

“Hooray! We’ll probably have cheerleaders with pompoms to wave it goodbye,” said Doug Crow, harbormaster of Eagle Harbor Marina, of the news the tugboat would be towed away Friday. “It’s a major step in our history. Now I wish the (state) attorney general lots of luck prosecuting the owner for abandonment, pollution and stealing moorage from the marina.”