Monthly Archives: August 2008

Lack of housing is the island’s toughest community challenge

A recent social and health services survey ranks affordable housing as the biggest problem on Bainbridge Island.

Polling various service providers and over 600 residents, the Bainbridge Health, Housing and Human Services Council found that the issue of affordable housing – for buyers, renters and seniors needing special care – had the largest gap between the perceived need and the community’s perceived ability to meet that need. For more information on the housing portion of the survey, read my story by clicking here.

Housing, while identified as the biggest problem, was only part of what the survey had to say.

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Mayor vs. manager vote postponed

Looks like Bainbridge voters will have to wait a bit longer for their second opportunity to vote to not vote for mayor.

Petitioners have decided to move the ballot measure from November to February or November 2009.

A similar measure that would replace the elected mayor with a hired manager failed in 1993, garnering just 38 percent of the vote.

Why try again, after having the seeds kicked out of their watermelon? (As 1993 petition supporter Lois Andrus said in my previous mayor vs. manager article)

Well, for one thing, the island’s changed a lot over the last 15 years, say supporters of the new petition.

But has it changed in ways that would make residents want to relinquish their power to choose the person who helms the city?

It seems that islanders will need a bit more convincing. Petitioners, who didn’t get quite the response they hoped for, recently pushed back the vote to allow more time to make the argument that the island would be better served with a professional manager sitting in the mayor’s office.

My story on the delayed vote is below.

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What’s your Ericksen-Hildebrand solution?

One of the hopeful things that has come out of the decades-old Ericksen-Hildebrand debate (see last story post) is that people have done more than complain and dig in their heels. They’ve offered a range of compromises and solutions, and several have e-mailed them to me after the story’s publication.

I didn’t have the space in the story to get into all the ideas, so I’d like to offer this blog as a venue for people to post ideas on how to solve the Ericksen-Hildebrand conundrum.

So, what do you think?

Leave the park green, the streets unconnected, and let the walkers and cyclists rule?

Strike a balance, perhaps with a winding, narrow connection that paves a portion of the park?

Or, as one commenter offered after the online version of the story: “Thank you Mr. Blue Truck for doing what I have wanted to do for some time. You are my hero! Bring in the dozer, cut the road and we’ll find a way to name the street after you!”

So, there you have another option: pave the park and name the newly connected thoroughfare “Mr. Blue Truck Street.”

Busting barriers in the Ericksen-Hildebrand debate

The city’s long debated it. Business leaders have long demanded it. The neighborhood has long feared it.

A big blue pickup truck last week rammed through and created it.

The ‘it,’ in this case, is a connection between Ericksen Avenue and Hildebrand Lane, two Winslow roadways that have remained a few yards apart while fostering decades of debate.

The unknown truck driver added his two cents by crashing through traffic cones, sandwich boards, plastic signs and a thick steel chain.

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Port Madison closed to shellfish harvesting

Health authorities have closed Port Madison Bay on Bainbridge and Miller Bay in North Kitsap to shellfish harvesting because of red tide.

High levels of paralytic shellfish poison were found in mussels taken Monday from Miller Bay near Suquamish.

State and county health officials responded by closing the Kitsap Peninsula shoreline from Agate Passage to Jefferson Point. On Bainbridge Island, the closure goes from Agate Passage to Point Monroe. The closure is for all species of shellfish.

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Blackout hits B.I.

A Tuesday-morning power outage caused by a malfunctioning electrical transformer played havoc with residents of some 1,200 homes on central and northern Bainbridge Island trying to get ready for work.

The outage, caused by the transformer in the Port Madison area, began at 7:14 a.m. and lasted until 8:02 a.m., according to a Puget Sound Energy spokeswoman.

Residents who dressed in the dark then encountered delays on State Route 305, where north- and central-island traffic signals were blackened.

Salmon Canyon Cafe ‘family’ sticks together after tragedy

I’ve only eaten at the Salmon Canyon Cafe once, shortly after it opened just over a year ago. I could tell the place was already a fixture for south-enders wanting a no nonsense breakfast.

Talking to the restaurant’s regulars and writing this story (below) makes me wish I’d gone there more often, and that owner David Ortiz will make a speedy recovery and open Salmon Canyon’s doors again.

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Police Blotter: Connecting Ericksen-Hildebrand by force

Not even chains can stop one motorist’s revved-up desire for convenience while running errands about town. This week, a truck busted through a chain blocking the connection between Hildebrand Lane and Ericksen Avenue. According to folks that work in the area, this isn’t the first time someone has broken through barriers erected by businesses fed up with cars using their parking lots as a through way between the two (officially) unconnected streets.

Also this week, a dissatisfied customer threatens to sic her incarcerated husband on a Winslow bank and kill an unhelpful teller.

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A safer trip to Blakely school

The city is putting the finishing touches on a series of pedestrian and traffic safety improvements near Blakely Elementary School this week.

The improvements include a new sidewalk linking between the Blakely Heights neighborhood and the school, and a drop-off area on the south side of Baker Hill Road intended to ease congestion in the school parking lot.

The city also aims to slow drivers down with new road islands solar-powered beacons that will flash during school hours.

“Blakely Elementary has been described as being hidden in the trees,” said project engineer Chris Hammer, noting that many drivers speed past the area, oblivious to the school.

The beacons and islands will prompt drivers to slow down and drive carefully in the 20 mph zone, he said.

The roadside along the project area incorporate a low impact stormwater drainage system that channels water into permeable gutters.

The project was funded through a federal transportation grant administered by the Puget Sound Regional Council.

Pedal x 2 = π

There’s an old saying that pedaling a bike makes pie taste sweeter.

Well, they say that on Bainbridge Island, at least.

Islanders have for six years turned out for the annual Bike for Pie ride, a short jaunt that trades a little sweat for a wedge of homemade goodness.

This year’s 6-mile ride on Sunday will wind from Winslow to Fort Ward State Park, where a plethora of pies await.

Dana Berg, president of the Squeaky Wheels bicycle advocacy group, will lead the ride. The 2008 Bike for Pie t-shirt, which will be available for purchase at Fort Ward, was designed by bicyclist and artist Peggy Brunton.

And the best part: the pie’s free.

The wheels start rolling from the Marge Williams Center on Winslow Way at 10 a.m.

For more info, go here.