Free Wi-Fi up and running in Winslow

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KPUD’s free Wi-Fi coverage. Map from the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce

The Kitsap Public Utility District’s community Wi-Fi project is off the ground in downtown Bainbridge Island.

The island’s chamber of commerce approached KPUD several years ago about providing free wifi in the downtown area, and now that free Wi-Fi  is available to residents and visitors along Winslow Way and Madison Avenue, the chamber said in a news release.

While the Wi-Fi is free, it is not secure, meaning users shouldn’t transmit any personal information or make financial transactions using it.

KPUD has been testing Wi-Fi in downtown Poulsbo as well, contracting with Intellicheck Mobilisa, Inc., last spring to analyze the best ways to provide public wireless Internet to a variety of mobile devices and laptops. The Port Townsend technology company specializes in wireless technology and identity systems, according to its website.

KPUD had encountered problems with smartphones being compatible with the Wi-Fi antennas before bringing in Mobilisa to test and possibly install new antennas for the wireless project.

The Wi-Fi is free to the public, for now at least.

KPUD was not testing the wireless project with hopes of making a profit, said Steve Perry, superintendent of telecommunications, last year.

“All options are on the table right now. Right now we are testing to see if it’s sustainable or reliable enough to charge for,” he said last March.

State law that requires public utility districts to sell the Internet at wholesale price to providers that offer it to consumers at retail prices.

Eventually, KPUD wants to have wireless testing done in six of the county’s community hubs — Poulsbo, Winslow, Port Orchard, Kingston, Bremerton and Silverdale.

I am waiting to hear back from Perry on current details about the Winslow project, including speeds.

KPUD requested the Internet speed be between 4 to 30 megabytes per second, ideally at or close to 30.

The Federal Communications Commission defines fast Internet as 4 or more megabytes per second.

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.

Experience a day in the life of a Bainbridge Island cop

An America's Most Wanted television crew sets up in the intersection of Winslow Way and Highway 305 on Bainbridge Island Thursday morning. In the police car is Bainbridge Island Police Officer Steve Cain who was involved in the car chase.
An America’s Most Wanted television crew sets up in the intersection of Winslow Way and Highway 305 on Bainbridge Island Thursday morning. In the police car is Bainbridge Island Police Officer Steve Cain who was involved in the car chase.

If you are interested in learning first hand what your local law enforcement does, apply for a hands-on learning experience with the Bainbridge Island Police Department. And it’s free.

The Citizens’ Police Academy is designed to show residents how the department functions, including everything from traffic enforcement, narcotics and criminal law to defensive tactics and investigations.

“The program was started to give citizens insight into what officers do while on patrol. It’s a great opportunity, as students get to gain a perspective of what happens behind the scenes, while also having the opportunity to get acquainted with some of the officers who serve them,” Chief of Police Matthew Hamner said in a news release.

While the academy is not intended to prepare people for a career in law enforcement, it is an opportunity better understand the job of local officers.

The academy is offered once a year. This year’s program runs on Tuesday nights from Tuesday, Feb. 10 through Tuesday, April 14. Classes are two hours long and start at 7 p.m. There are two optional Saturday sessions.

Students also have the opportunity to visit the CenCom 911 dispatch center, the Kitsap County Coroner’s Office and the Kitsap County Jail.

The class size is limited to 20 students.

For questions or an application, call the Bainbridge Island Police Department at 206-842-5211 or visit the department’s website.

Bainbridge Island Fire opens its doors before February election

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The Bainbridge Island Fire Department will be asking voters for a levy and 20-year $16 million bond next month during the special election.

Before voters  head to the ballot boxes, the departments is looking to answer any questions residents have on the levy and bond.

The levy would increase the 2015 regular property tax to 95 cents per $1,000.00 of assessed valuation. Without the increase it is estimated to be 86 cents.

The levy would be used to hiring three more firefighters, and pay for three that have been recently hired.  Those firefighters would be used to open Fire Station 23 on Phelps Road, which is currently closed and unmanned.

The money will not be collected until 2016.

The 20-year $16 million bond would be to pay for rebuilding, remodeling and equipping the department’s fire stations.

You can read more about the bond and levy details in a previous story I did in the Kitsap Sun.

The open houses will be:

  • January 07, 2015  6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Station 21 – 8895 Madison Avenue, NE
  • January 14, 2015  6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Station 22 – 7934 NE Bucklin Hill Road
  • January 21, 2015  6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Station 23 – 12985 Phelps Road
  • January 24, 2015 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. at Station 21 – 8895 Madison Avenue, NE
  • January 24, 2015  2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Station 22 – 7934 NE Bucklin Hill Road

Residents can also attend the bi-monthly fire commissioner meetings.

Six candidates eye central ward vacancy

Six candidates are looking to fill the central ward vacancy on the Bainbridge Island City Council since David Ward resigned at the end of last year.

The six that have applied for the position are Monica Aufrecht, John Green, Joe Levan, Greg Millerd, Gary Pettersen and Michael Scott.

The council will interview candidates during a public meeting this month before voting on and choosing the new council member to finish Ward’s term, which ends in December 2015. Council members serve four year terms, earning $1,000 a month. The mayor earns $1,250 a month.

MONICA AUFRECHT

Aufrecht is a college instructor who moved to the island in 2012. She earned a Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Washington, where she is now an instructor. She also teaches at Seattle Central College.

Last year, she served as a committee member for the Metropolitan Parks and Recreation District for the island, helping with the new Strawberry Hill Dog Park.

Aufrecht’s top three priorities on the council would be affordable housing, reducing pollution in Puget Sound and traffic and safety.

JOHN GREEN

Green owns and manages his own development and construction company on the island, where he has lived for 20 years. With his business he has worked with city planners, the public works department and city council, among other government agencies.

Green ran for the central ward position in 2011, losing in the primary election with 14.35 percent of the vote.

Green’s top three priorities would be the comprehensive plan, stormwater cleanup and fiscal responsibilities. He suggested “outsourcing” and raising the car tab fee, which is set at $20. Raising the car tab fee would require a vote from residents.

JOE LEVAN

Levan has lived on the island since 1995, and is an attorney currently working for the Municipal Research and Services Center in Seattle. He has provided legal services to multiple cities and served as interim assistant city manager of Maple Valley in 2007, where he also served as city attorney.

Levan earned two bachelor’s degrees from Seattle University in 1989, before earning his law degree from the same college a decade later.

He ran for the central ward position in 2011, losing in the general election to David Ward by about 1,000 votes.

Levan’s three priorities would be a smooth transition after Ward’s resignation, creating a safe and green community, as well as a more diversified economy.

GREG MILLERD

Millerd is a commercial real estate agent with Cushman & Wakefield, where he has been for about 20 years.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and mass community cation from the University of Wisconsin before earning a masters in business at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.

Millerd’s top two priorities would be to evaluate the city’s current real estate portfolio and review having a joint police and fire station. “It makes no sense to me that both the fire departments and police department would have unique facilities,” he wrote in his application. The city council voted 5-2 against a combination station last fall.

GARY PETTERSEN

Petterson, who most recently worked for Boeing Everett plant, has served on the planning commissioner for Winslow and Bainbridge Island.

He worked most of his career as a draftsman and computer programmer throughout the greater Seattle area.

Petterson also served in the Army from 1967 to 1971.

His top three priorities would be keeping downtown Winslow pedestrian friendly, help resolve ferry traffic congestion and broadcasting city council meetings again.

Bainbridge Island Television, which use to broadcast council meetings, went off air in 2010. The meetings can be streamed lived from the city’s website or viewed on BKAT.

MICHAEL SCOTT

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’s 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.

Your top 2014 story picks

TACOMA ADRIFT

Here are the stories you decided were the top 10 stories from 2014.

  1. Ferry Tacoma goes dead in water, leaves big gap in service
  2. Public records lawsuit settlement calls for councilman to resign
  3. Bainbridge teen attempting to block Key Bank/Visconsi Mall with tree sit
  4. City Council votes against combined fire, police facility
  5. Long-awaited dog park opens
  6. Bainbridge urgent care to open Dec. 1
  7. Parks set bond at $6.2 million
  8. Stand-alone Starbucks comes to the island
  9. Subject of iconic World War II photo dies at age 103
  10. ‘Gilligan’s Island’ star Johnson led quiet life on Bainbridge Island

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:

 

Town & Country sign coming down (for a little bit)

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The iconic Town & Country sign, left, will be demolished Dec. 30 and rebuilt because of safety concerns with the 57-year-old, wood structure. Photo by Tad Sooter/Kitsap Sun

The iconic 57-year-old Town & Country Market sign along Winslow Way is showing its age — at least structurally — and will be demolished Tuesday.

The 23-foot, 6-inch wood sign has become unsafe, said market officials, and needs to be replaced with a steel and wood sign that will be nearly identical in look.

“The new reader board will look like the old one, but will be structurally sound,” Rick Pedersen, market director, said in a press release. “We’re just so glad we’re able to keep it in its original form and make sure it lasts another 50 years.”

Although the sign was first used to advertise market sale prices, it eventually became a large announcement board for community and public events.

The sign’s famous neon T and C that directly faces Winslow Way — along with the rest of the neon parts — will be salvaged before the demolition and used on the new sign or placed inside the store.

The new sign is expected to be finished this coming spring.

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The Town & Country sign was originally for sale prices and is now used to list community events. Photo by Tad Sooter/Kitsap Sun

“It will look strange when it’s gone, but it is coming back,” Pedersen said in a press release.

The store also is seeing a little change with a remodeled that started in February and is scheduled to be finished during the summer next year.

While Town & Country Market has undergone several small remodels since it opened in August 1957, the current remodel is it’s largest, according to market officials. The store has remained open throughout the project, and will continue to do so.

The remodel will put all of the departments on one level, create a new car entrance from Winslow Way, replace nearly all of the store’s equipment and feature new restrooms.

The remodel also will include a staffed sushi counter and an expanded Culinary Resource Center, among other items.