Bainbridge Conversation

Reporter Ethan Fowler engages island residents in a conversation about their community.
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Archive for the ‘Parks’ Category

Birding on Bloedel: Northern neighbor stays year-round in Northwest

Monday, February 17th, 2014

0127_Canada goose by ships 2“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 Canada geese, 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. 

No one requires an introduction to the Canada goose (Branta canadensis), a common year-round resident of the Pacific Northwest. Anyone who has visited parks around our area lakes or Puget Sound is familiar with the unappreciated “calling cards” these geese leave on lawns and paths close to water. Grazing on grass and other terrestrial plants is their primary means of foraging, although they can also be seen tipping up in shallow water like dabbling ducks to feed on aquatic vegetation. At Bloedel they are frequently found grazing in grassy areas near the Bird Marsh, or on the lawns near the Visitor’s Center.

The Canada goose is common throughout much of North America, breeding as far north as Alaska and the Yukon in Canada, and wintering wherever there is permanent open water. Their spring migration in southern Wisconsin inspired Aldo Leopold to proclaim in A Sand County Almanac, “One swallow does not make a summer, but one skein of geese cleaving the murk of a March thaw, is the spring.”

Biologists have long observed that many widespread species vary in size and/or coloration across their broad geographical range. One way in which they have formally recognized these differences is by the naming of subspecies, within-species groups that differ significantly in size and/or coloration. Most subspecific differences are so subtle that they are recognizable only to specialists. Until very recently, however, scientists considered some of the most northern breeding populations, in which adults are only about half the size of our local Canada Geese, to be easily identified subspecies of the Canada goose. These populations are now recognized as a separate species, named the Cackling goose. A wintering Cackling goose has joined the resident Canada geese at Bloedel this winter.  Look closely at the foraging flocks of geese for an individual that is only half the size of its compatriots.

The Canada Goose has been successfully introduced into England, where many consider it a pest. In fact, they maintain the Canada goose and the gray squirrel (also introduced from the United States) represent our retaliation for their export of the house sparrow and European starling to the United States.


Park district floats new concept for Blakely Harbor

Thursday, September 12th, 2013

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The park district will present a proposed new vision for Blakely Harbor Park this week.

The public is invited to view and comment on a proposed new concept plan for the park at 6 p.m. Thursday at the district’s Strawberry Hill Park headquarters. More details on the meeting can be found here. An overview is posted below.

Comments can also be sent to Perry Barrett – perry@biparks.org – by Sept. 17. (more…)


Bainbridge off-leash dog park up for discussion tonight

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

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As we reported back in May, the park district is interested in leasing 15-acres of city-owned property surrounding the Vincent Road transfer station for an off-leash dog park. It took quite a lot longer than expected for the proposal to make it before the City Council, but the dog park is on the agenda for tonight’s meeting.

The memo attached to the agenda item (PDF here) lays out the history of the site and provides a preliminary design. City staff identified a number of concerns for the council to consider. The proposal is complicated by the fact that a portion of the property rests over a former landfill. The landfill was capped, and the land is safe for surface use, but any park development at the site cannot interfere with environmental remediation efforts.

City staff concluded the plan is feasible but will require “additional attention and research” to carry out.

Larry Steagall, file photo


Bainbridge harbor group seeks support for expanded city dock

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Public Dock Final Rendering

Bainbridge Island’s advisory Harbor Commission was busy crafting designs for a new city dock well before the planning workshops for Waterfront Park began last month.

The city held two planning meetings in June to discuss potential upgrades for the park and dock, and is now circulating a survey to gather more input. A 30-minute update on the planning process is scheduled for tonight’s City Council meeting.

Members of the Harbor Commission feel the discussion so far has centered heavily on the park’s uplands. They hope to rekindle interest in rebuilding the aging city dock.

The commission is circulating refined conceptual drawings for an expanded dock. The new dock would feature four fingers with space for more visiting yachts as well as club sailboats, rowing shells and kayak rentals. The plan calls for moving the head of the dock to the west of the existing boat ramp.

Public Dock Plan Drawing 06.01.13 by tsooter

The city designated $1.85 million of a recent Washington State Ferries settlement to upgrading Waterfront Park, and plans to seek additional grants. Many visions for the park were floated during the June workshops, and not every idea will fit in the final project.

In an open letter to the boating community this week, Harbor Commission Chair Mark Leese said he felt boaters were underrepresented in the discussion. He urged more boaters to get involved:  (more…)


City turns down property adjacent to Waterfront Park

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

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Waterfront Park will soon get an upgrade, but for now it won’t be getting any larger.

The city recently declined to make an offer on a residence for sale adjacent to the downtown park. The city had a long-standing right of first refusal on the property, which is listed at $428,000.

City Manager Doug Schulze said the potential acquisition was discussed during a City Council executive session. Council members decided the property was too expensive and not necessary for the park, he said.

The 8,000-square-foot lot borders the northeast corner of Waterfront Park.


Waterfront Park planning continues Sunday

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

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Planning for a revamped Waterfront Park will continue Sunday with a second community workshop. The event runs 1:30-4:30 p.m. at Waterfront Park Community Center. Islanders can join a walking tour of the park and dock at 1 p.m.

The city and Sustainable Bainbridge launched the planning effort with a well attended community meeting June 1. Prolific walkable communities consultant Dan Burden helped guide the conversation. Participants brainstormed ideas for the park and voted on their favorite design elements (you can see the voting results here).

Sunday’s workshop will include presentations from specific user groups. Bainbridge Island Rowing has a proposal for a new boathouse. The city’s advisory Harbor Commission is promoting designs for an expanded city dock.

The city dedicated $1.8 million of a Washington State Ferries settlement to reinvigorating the downtown park and will seek additional grants. A request for qualifications from design firms was recently issued for the project.

 


What do you want at Waterfront Park?

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

blog.WFpark.picThe city has money to spend on Waterfront Park, thanks to a settlement from Washington State Ferries. Now it’s up to islanders to decide how to spend it.

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The city and Sustainable Bainbridge will host two community meetings in June to discuss renovation plans for the downtown Winslow park. The first meeting is scheduled for 1:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday at Waterfront Park Community Center.

Participants can join a walking tour of the park at 12:30 p.m., before the start of the meeting. The stroll will be led by Dan Burden of the Walkable and Livable Communities Institute, who is helping facilitate the outreach event.

There are sure to be many visions for the park. The uplands and shoreline are enjoyed by walkers, picnickers, concert-goers, rowers, day sailors, kayakers and visiting boaters, to name just a few regular user groups. The city’s advisory Harbor Commission has already presented a proposal for an expanded city dock.

The Saturday meeting, dubbed “What could it be?”, is intended to be a brainstorming session. The second meeting – “How should we design it?” – is scheduled for June 30.

(Top photo by Meegan Reid)


New dock planned for Hidden Cove Park

Thursday, May 23rd, 2013

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Spring seems to be park project planning season.

The park board approved concept plans for a playground at Schel Chelb Park last week. It also held a public hearing for a project to replace the dock at Hidden Cove Park and make small improvements to the uplands. Comments can be sent to Perry Barrett – perry@biparks.org – through May 28.

The public dock on Port Madison is getting a little long in the tooth, to put it lightly. Popular with kayakers, dog walkers and bored teens, the dock has become rickety and rotted in places. The float also grounds out regularly at low tide, a no-no in the eyes of state permitting agencies.

Here’s a rough synopsis of the two options the district is considering: (more…)


Islanders celebrate Hilltop project; fundraising continues

Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

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The Bainbridge park district took advantage of the sunshine Wednesday to celebrate the opening of Hilltop trail and park. The trail, which links east and west portions of Grand Forest, has been enjoyed by hikers since winter. The park district also renovated a house on the property for classroom and event space.

“This has been a dream for us for a long time,” park board Chair Tom Swolgaard said of the Grand Forest trail connection.

Bainbridge Island Land Trust reminded attendees that fundraising for the project continues. The Land Trust agreed to purchase 36 acres in the Hilltop area for $3.6 million. Eight acres were obtained by the park district for the trail and classroom space. The Land Trust has $360,000 left to raise.

“A lot of people think we’re done and are out there enjoying it,” Land Trust Executive Director Hallie Stevens said last week. “We want to let them know there is still work left to do.”

Here’s a map of the Hilltop trail, courtesy the Land Trust:

Hilltop Trail Map by tsooter


Septic work underway at Fay Bainbridge; trailer dump closing

Wednesday, March 20th, 2013

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A long-awaited septic upgrade is underway at Fay Bainbridge Park this week. The $57,000 project will replace the park’s old and fragmented septic systems with a single system less prone to flooding.

Two new drain fields have been dug into the berm above the beach and will serve all the buildings in the park.

The park remains open, though it may be closed to vehicle traffic intermittently during the project.

The park district is shutting down its trailer dump service at the park because the new septic system is not designed to handle chemicals from recreational vehicles. The district recommends RV campers use other Kitsap dump facilities including nearby Eagle Tree RV Park in Poulsbo.

Fay Bainbridge was once in line for a much grander and wastewater treatment plant while it was still a state park. Those plans never materialized. The contract for the new septic system was awarded to Northwest Cascade Inc. last month.

For more information, contact Mike Mejia at (206) 842-3931 or mike@biparks.org. The district is also seeking input from Fay Bainbridge users with a beach ecology survey.

 

 


Peril and progress at Fort Ward Park

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

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Park officials are concerned by rapid shoreline erosion at Fort Ward, and it’s easy to see why in this aerial image from Google. The bank has crept unnervingly close to the northwest corner of the barracks, seen in the top left corner of this photo.

The park district says armoring the shoreline would be challenging and very expensive. Moving the building would also cost a bundle and it’s not clear whether the wood-framed structure would survive relocation. Doing nothing is no longer an option however, as winter storms and King Tides continue to eat away at the bank.

“If we’re going to save them, we need a process in place to save them,” park district Executive Director Terry Lande said of the barracks Thursday. (more…)


Orcas take a cruise past Bainbridge Island

Monday, October 8th, 2012

 

Orcas swim south through Puget Sound between Fay Bainbridge Park and Ballard at about 3 p.m. Monday. (Tad Sooter photos). Here’s Chris Dunagan’s story on what the whales were up to.

A large pod of orca whales put on a show off the east side of Bainbridge Island Monday — albeit a show best enjoyed with binoculars. The whales appeared to be cruising midway between the island and the mainland.

The Orca Network relayed reports of the whales off Point No Point late in the morning. They were spotted off Jefferson Head and Fay Bainbridge Park at about 1 p.m. By 4 p.m. the whales were between Elliott Bay and Eagle Harbor, and still swimming south. Facebook users reported seeing the whales from the 4:40 p.m. Seattle ferry.

Though they stayed far from shore, the whales caused a stir along the waterfront. A few families enjoyed whale watching with binoculars from the beach at Fay Bainbridge in the afternoon and a float plane (left) zipped low overhead, making a bee line for the pod. KING5 even followed the whales live with a helicopter for a while.

If nothing else, it was a good excuse to head for the beach on a spectacular October day.

If you snapped some whale photos Monday, please share them with us. You can email Tad at tad.sooter@gmail.com or post them on the Bainbridge Islander page on Facebook.


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