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.

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.

Housing, hotel, rooftop restaurant coming to Lynwood Center

LynwoodCenterSeattleTimesBanner
Bainbridge Island’s Lynwood Center.

A nearly 5-acre development is being proposed off Lynwood Center Drive for residential and business space, along with a park.

Blue Moon & Roost Land Companies, LLC has plans for multiple homes, town houses, a hotel and rooftop restaurant and bar, along with office, retail and artist space.

While the Lynwood Center buildings have a Tudor style, the developers architect said the project will not be the same style.

INDIGO Architecture & Interiors does not “interpret” the center’s design guidelines require the Tudor style.

The proposal did not say what specific style would be used in the development.

Housing would be the first phase of the project, including five 2,000 square-feet single family houses with 800 square-feet mother-in-law homes, two 1,700-square-feet single family houses and six town house units above commercial space.

The project’s second phase would be three three-story buildings about 9,000 square feet each. These buildings would include a hotel called Hotel Charrette, rooftop restaurant with water views, ground-floor retail with room for working artists and second floor office space.

There also will be six “inn cottages” called Gypsy Wagons by the proposed park and a market plaza along Point White Drive.

An existing brick house on the site will be renovated and used for commercial purposes.

The site was previously a lumber yard and the rest of the property has been used as a pasture for the last 40 years, according to INDIGO’s proposal.

The Larson Lumber building is still on the site.

Developers also said in the proposal that they want to keep as many of the trees as possible, including a pine by the market to use as a holiday tree.

There will be a public meeting Monday night to address questions.

See drawings of the proposed development.

PUBLIC MEETING

WHAT: Public meeting on a development by the Lynwood Center

WHEN: Monday, Jan. 26 at 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

WHERE: Pleasant Beach Village Marketplace, 4738 Lynwood Center Road NE, Bainbridge Island

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.

Sherman rewards 12th man’s sportsmanship

Sherman-looks-for-PJ

After the Seahawks pulled off an awe-inspiring win against the Packers, 12th man PJ LeDorze gave his Sherman Seahawks jersey to a 13-year-old Packers fan who had been harassed by other Seahawks fans during the game.

LeDorze, a Bainbridge Island alumnus, found his picture with the boy in the local Seattle news after the boy’s family tried to track him down and thank him once again.

The story eventually caught Richard Sherman’s attention. Now Sherman is tracking down LeDorze to offer him a signed jersey to replace the one he gave away.

“This is awesome. PJ showing why the 12th man are the best fans in the league! Must have been hard for that kid, but now he won’t ever want to forget that moment. Much respect 12s, you never disappoint,” Sherman said on his website.

Just so you know, Paul Rudd’s in the paper

Paul Rudd will be starring as main character in an adaptation of a local author's novel. AP PHOTO
Paul Rudd will be starring as main character in an adaptation of a local author’s novel. AP PHOTO

Bainbridge Island author Jonathan Evison’s third novel is going to be a movie starring Paul Rudd as the main character Ben Benjamin.

Evison’s book, “The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving,” is based in Kitsap County and centers around Benjamin becoming a caregiver and developing a relationship with Trevor Conklin, a teenager in the advanced stages of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The two end up on a road trip to see Conklin’s father in Utah, stopping to see unusual roadside attractions and picking up odd characters along the way.

Rivised-Fundamentals-of-Caregi_12486752_ver1.0_900_675Although the book is based in Kitsap, filming probably won’t happen here or anywhere in the state, so don’t get too excited about that.

“Unfortunately, the Northwest is not that film-friendly, which is why a lot of productions just keep heading north to Vancouver,” Evison said. “A lot of films are shot in Georgia because it’s tax friendly, and the weather is amenable this time of year. There’s plenty of green and plenty of mountains. They’ve been scouting great locations, so I’m sure it will work out great.”

Read the full story and what else Evison has to say about the film.

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.