New Bainbridge park comes with bomb shelter


Last week, Bainbrdge voters approved a $5.9 million park bond to buy a largely undeveloped property in Winslow.

The former Sakai family strawberry farm has a pond, wooded areas and some open spots alongside busy Madison Avenue. At 23 acres, the property is full of possibilities. A large section will probably be preserved as open space, leaving about 10 acres for for ball fields, an off-leash dog park or a playground – or all three plus a few more uses. Some park officials would like to build a recreation center with classrooms and offices.

The bomb shelter is in a bunker-like storage building
The bomb shelter is in a bunker-like storage building.

Perhaps the most intriguing feature is the property’s cavernous bomb shelter.

Probably installed at the height of the Cold War, the steel room is buried in the back of a big concrete storage building that looks like it, too, could withstand Khrushchev’s worst.

Park officials say the concrete building will work great for storing park vehicles and other large equipment. But the bomb shelter, with its rounded, windowless walls, doesn’t present any obvious park-related uses.

It might be a good spot to hide out when one of Bainbridge’s regular pertussis outbreaks becomes a Level 5 pandemic. Of course, you’ll have squeeze in with these guys.

Park staffers John DeMeyer and Terry Lande and park advocate Bruce Weiland peek in the shelter.
Park staffers John DeMeyer and Terry Lande and park advocate Bruce Weiland peek in the shelter.
Inside the bomb shelter.
Inside the bomb shelter.
Park staff member John DeMeyer stands at the storage building's mossy entrance.
Park staff member John DeMeyer stands at the storage building’s mossy entrance.
Park staff wander the property's concrete storage building.
Park staff wander the property’s concrete storage building.

Photos: Tristan Baurick/Kitsap Sun

VIDEO: The search for eggs in the sand

I wrote a story for Sunday’s paper about a bill that could lead to Puget Sound’s largest and most comprehensive study of forage fish.

The story, which you can read here, outlines plans from Sen. Christine Rolfes, a Democrat from Bainbridge, to put dozens of volunteers and Washington Conservation Corps members to work surveying beaches and waterways for signs of smelt, herring and other small fish that support a multitude of other larger species, including salmon and marine birds. Forage fish, Rolfes says, appear to be in sharp decline, and that’s bad news for the animals that depend on them for food.

Surf smelt. Meegan Reid/Kitsap Sun
Surf smelt from Fay Bainbridge Park. Meegan Reid/Kitsap Sun

What might the survey look like? Suquamish videographer John Williams has some idea. He produced a short video (above) of a smelt egg survey conducted in North Kitsap a few years back. Looks like quite a painstaking process involving lots of beach visits, searching sand with magnifying glasses and then sifting sand using a technique that resembles gold panning.

As was mentioned in the story, state Dept. of Fish & Wildlife and several environmental and sport fishing groups back Rolfes’ bill.

In addition to the survey, the bill would, for the first time, require a recreational fishing license for smelt fishing. Rolfes said that shouldn’t be too much of a burden on smelt fishers because most of them already have a license for other types of fishing. A license for smelt would help Fish & Wildlife periodically survey fishers and track where and how much smelt is being caught.

For more of Williams’ videos about Puget Sound, head over to

SK park’s public access fight coming to a close


The private lock on the public park is finally coming down.

Kitsap County announced today that it is finalizing an agreement that would restore public access to Anderson Point Park. The 66-acre park on Colvos Passage has been closed since 2010 but is expected to reopen this spring.

The park’s neighbors erected a locked gate on Millihanna Road, the only vehicle access into the park, in 2013 to curb the traffic, crime, noise and litter they say the park attracts.

Anderson Point's beach.
Anderson Point’s beach.

County officials said they are “near agreement and resolution” that would turn the gate’s management over to the county parks department. Park staff would leave the gate during daylight hours and lock it at night.

The draft agreement stipulates that the county must improve Millihanna Road in phases over the next several months.

Millihanna is a one-lane gravel drive branching from Banner Road. It’s poorly-suited for the high volume of traffic the park once attracted, Millihanna residents say. The road is private but the county contends it has had a shared use agreement since 2001, when the park was established.

Millihanna’s residents threatened to sue if Anderson Point were reopened. In March, their attorney stipulated that public access could resume if the county agreed to widen the road to two lanes, install speed bumps and speed limit signs, and expand the Anderson Point’s parking lot.

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Poulsbo pump track could be largest in state

Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance’s design for a pump track at Little Valley Ball Field.

The Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance’s West Sound chapter hopes to build what might just be the largest outdoor pump track in the state.

What’s a pump track? Basically, its a compact, looping trail system with a series of berms and curved banks that allow a BMX or mountain biker to ride continuously without pedaling. The name comes from the downward pumping motion a cyclist uses to build and maintain speed. Pump tracks are growing in popularity, particularly among young riders.

Pump track in Switzerland/International Mountain Bicycling Association
Pump track in Switzerland. Photo: International Mountain Bicycling Association

EMBA wants to build a pump track on a 1.8-acre park on Little Valley Road that Kitsap County recently handed to the city of Poulsbo.

Developed as a baseball field, the park has seen little use and received no maintenance in recent years. The county declared it surplus along with dozens of other parks. Kitsap Sun reporter Rachel Seymour wrote a story for today’s paper about the proposals coming forward for the property.

 The West Sound chapter’s president, Brian Kilpatrick, said he’s taken a look at the region’s other outdoor pump tracks, including popular ones in King and Pierce counties.

“Not only would the pump track put the West Sound on the map for possibly the largest outdoor pump track in the state but also would fit like a puzzle piece in the overall outdoor recreation plan that Kitsap County is working towards,” he said.

Here’s what the pump track at King County’s Duthie Hill Mountain Bike Park is like:

EMBA’s proposal is one of five the Poulsbo Parks Department is considering for Little Valley. The other ideas include a performing arts center, a small park with a solar dish, and maintaining the ball field as a softball or baseball field. The proposals will be presented to the department at 6 p.m. Feb. 23 at Poulsbo City Hall.

Kilpatrick said building the pump track would cost Poulsbo nothing. His group has necessary funding ($13,000) in the bank and its 300 members can muster a sizable volunteer workforce.

EMBA's Little Valley pump track proposal and support letters.
EMBA’s Little Valley pump track proposal and support letters. Photo: EMBA

“The location is ideal in regards to soil composition for drainage and grade, as well as being isolated from busy streets,” Kilpatrick said. “Many young people will be able to ride their bikes to the park and it fits in with Poulsbo’s plan to link up parks with community trails.”

Cyclists on Bainbridge Island have been trying to develop a pump track for years. The Bainbridge Gear Grinders mountain bike club and EMBA members pitched the idea to the Bainbridge park board in May but received a lukewarm response. The bike groups are looking for a good site before pursuing the idea further with the Bainbridge park district.

The Little Valley site’s location near Central Market and Highway 305 might not be too far of a drive for the island’s cyclists.

But easy access and location appear to be key for pump tracks, as this cute (but sad) video demonstrates.

Talks on Olympic National Park sea stars and glaciers


Olympic National Park‘s winter speakers series is finishing up with two more talks on sea star wasting disease and the park’s biggest glacier.

Tonight’s scheduled talk on managing salmon in the park has been cancelled because the presenter is ill.

The park’s Perspectives Series talks are held the second Tuesday of each month from November to April. The free talks begin at 7 p.m. at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center, 3002 Mount Angeles Road in Port Angeles.

Here’s what’s coming up in March and April…

March 10, 2015

Sea Star Wasting Syndrome – Losing a Keystone Predator

Melissa MineSeaStarWastingr, University of California Santa Cruz

This presentation will describe the impacts of sea star wasting syndrome as documented by long-term surveys and citizen science monitoring.

Researchers at Olympic began noticing sea stars “wasting away” in 2013. The disease causes large lesions on the limbs of sea stars. Eventually, limbs and sometimes entire bodies dissolve.

April 14, 2015

Blue Glacier: Past, Present and Future

Howard Conway, PhD, University of Washington

Climate change since the Little Ice Age has caused shrinkage of alpine glaciers worldwide. Blue Glacier is no exception. The University of Washington has conducted research on Blue Glacier since 1957. This record of change is one of the longest for any glacier in North America.

Top photo: Olympic’s Blue Glacier/Wikipedia. Above photo: Signs of sea star wasting syndrome/Vancouver Aquarium.

Olympic Discovery Trail bridge damaged by flooding

The bridge in better days. Photo courtesy of the Olympic Peninsula Tourism Commission
The Dungeness River Bridge during better days. Photo courtesy of the Olympic Peninsula Tourism Commission
Photo courtesy of Dungeness River Audubon Center
The bridge’s condition on Saturday. Photo courtesy of Dungeness River Audubon Center

The Olympic Discovery Trail was sliced in two when the raging Dungeness River damaged the bridge at Railroad Bridge Park near Sequim.

The 130-mile trail, which runs from Port Townsend to the Pacific Coast, is a popular destination for the region’s cyclists. It’s also what Kitsap trail advocates are trying to replicate with the proposed Sound to Olympics Trail.

According to the Peninsula Trails Coalition, several of the bridge’s support pilings were knocked loose and there are concerns the bridge may collapse. No one’s sure when it will reopen.

The coalition has suggested a detour that you can find here.

Below is a report from KSQM News from Friday.

Kitsap parks board needs members


The Kitsap County Parks Advisory Board needs three new members.

The 12-member volunteer board is seeking two representatives from the county’s north end and one rep for Central Kitsap. Board Chairman Alvin Andrus said he would like to have more members who are active park users and are familiar with or willing to contribute to park stewardship groups, such as the North Kitsap Trails Association or the Friends of Newberry Hill Heritage Park.

The board provides input and advice to the parks department director and county commissioners. The board meets on the third Wednesday of each month at various county park properties. The next meeting is set for Feb. 18 at the Eagle’s Nest building at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds (1195 Fairgrounds Road).

For more info about the board, click to here or call (360) 337-4650. To apply, visit

Bainbridge mountain bike coach Jay Abbott dies

Bainbridge mountain bike coach Jay Abbott died four days after suffering crippling injuries during a training ride in Bainbridge’s Grand Forest Park.

A statement released by his wife, Darlene Kordonowy, noted that Jay “peacefully departed this world for uncharted trails” at dusk on Thursday.


Jay was the founder and head coach of the Gear Grinders middle school mountain bike team.

He fell during training ride with members of his team on Sunday. He appeared to have landed on his head or neck, causing severe damage to his spinal cord and cervical nerves, and paralyzing his arms and legs. He remained unconscious and required a ventilator to breathe.

Doctors later determined that he had suffered brain damage and would not recover to move or breath on his own.

Jay died surrounded by mementos from a life spent enjoying the outdoors.

“His ‘best oldest’ red jacket, with dog biscuits and riding glasses in the pocket, was tucked around him for the journey,” Darlene’s statement read.

The Gear Grinders club has pledged to keep his 22-member team going.

In a post on an online memorial page, one of the young cyclists he coached promised to “keep biking, with all the enthusiasm and fun I can.”

“No one will ever replace Jay’s amazing support on the team,” she wrote. “But we will keep on rolling.”

Jay’s family plans to announce a celebration of his life soon. They will name a few organizations where people can make donations in Jay’s honor.

Visit for more information.

Bainbridge mountain bike coach won’t survive his injuries

Jay Abbott

Jay Abbott, the Bainbridge mountain bike coach who suffered a debilitating crash on Sunday, won’t survive his injuries, according to a statement released by his family this evening.

“His spinal cord injury is termed ‘complete.’ He will not recover to move, swallow or breath on his own again. The accident and associated anoxia caused irreparable brain damage,” the statement read.

I first reported about Jay’s crash yesterday after speaking with his wife, Darlene Kordonowy, and members of the Gear Grinders mountain bike club. At the time, there was some small hope of a recovery. Jay was in a coma and appeared paralyzed in his arms and legs. Now we know things are much worse.

His family members now find themselves “facing the impossible task of saying farewell to this amazing man.”

Jay with Gear Grinders members.
Jay with Gear Grinders members. Photo: Rick Gordon

Jay helped establish and was the head coach of the Gear Grinders’ middle school team. With 22 members, the team was nearly double the size of the more well-established high school team. They had to turn away several kids to keep the middle school team at a manageable level.

Gear Grinders members described Jay as having an ever-present and beaming smile. He was passionate about getting kids outside, whether for mountain biking, sailing or skiing. He made sure the mountain bike team’s members put in hours of volunteer work to maintain the trails they used.

The family’s statement ended with this line: “To you all, near or far, new friend or ‘old’, biker or sailor, skier or runner, Jay loved his life with you in it.”

To leave remembrances of Jay and to get details about a later celebration of his life, visit

Jay riding near Port Angeles. Photo: John Benjes.
Jay riding near Port Angeles. Photo: John Benjes.