Monthly Archives: February 2009

Suquamish Tribe diversifying its economic base

The Suquamish Tribe’s reliance on the Clearwater Casino for revenue has shrunk over recent years as new business enterprises have taken shape on the reservation. And more economic diversification is on the way, said the CEO of the tribe’s business wing at a Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Wednesday.

Russell Steele said the Clearwater’s profits made up 92 percent of the tribe’s business revenue in 2001. Today, the casino makes up only 68 percent of the revenue.

An on the horizon is an expansion of the Agate Pass Business Park, a larger retail division and improvements in downtown Suquamish.

Read Angela Lu’s coverage of Steele’s talk here.

State to discuss tranfer of BI parks

The state park system is hosting a public meeting on Friday to discuss the possible transfer of Fay Bainbridge and Fort Woard state parks to the Bainbridge Island Metro Mark and Recreation District.

Gov. Chris Gregoire proposes to close 13 state parks, including Fay Bainbridge and Fort Ward, to help meet a multi-billion dollar budget shortfall. The 13 parks on the closure list aren’t up to the state standards for use, scenic views, cultural resources and potential to earn money.

State parks staff will discuss how and when the transfer may occur and hear public comment about what features park users would most like to see preserved.

Fay Bainbridge State Park is a 17-acre marine camping park with 1,420 feet of saltwater shoreline on the northeast corner of Bainbridge Island. Fort Ward State Park is a 137-acre park with 4,300 feet of shoreline on Rich Passage.

For the Sun’s most recent story on the proposed transfer, click here.

The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at Island Center Hall, 8395 Fletcher Bay Road N.E.

For more information, contact state parks planner Peter Herzog, (360) 902-8652.

Winslow Way project moving forward on time, on budget

Despite the city’s shaky financial state, City Council members were assured this week that the $12 million Winslow Way reconstruction project will move along strong and steady.

The project draws its financial stability from grants and utility fees, which are not tied to the city’s sharply declining tax revenue bases, according to city staff.

Read my story here.

Letter: “Winslow Way plan aids water quality”

Island resident Greg Bedinger writes this week to praise aspects of the Winslow Way revamp that will improve storm and waste water lines:

I would like to weigh in on the current round of chatter concerning the infrastructure improvements slated for Winslow Way on Bainbridge Island. Others are challenging the arguments against proceeding based on costs, timing, disruption, and grants vs. no grants, ad infinitum! I wish to be on the record as a supporter of the project.

I find it simply amazing that there would be such hesitation to implement a project that will clearly improve the quality of water entering Eagle Harbor by way of upgraded storm and waste water lines. The Puget Sound Partnership recognizes that one of the greatest threats to our quality of life is the rapidly degrading quality (read polluted) of the water entering the Sound by way of overburdened and failing storm water systems. Add to this the deteriorating conditions of municipal sewage lines and it does not take a rocket scientist to recognize that we continue to sully our own backyard by delaying these important improvements.

All the residents of Puget Sound, shoreline and upland, rural and urban, share a responsibility for acting in the best interests of all, not just the few. The Winslow Way improvements are a much-needed response to an urgent call for action for each of us to contribute in a timely way to improving water quality in Puget Sound, thus ensuring a living and vibrant resource for all of us now and for the generations that follow.
Greg Bedinger

May 19: the date BI will vote on changing its government

Bainbridge Island has the green light to hold a special election on May 19 on the question of whether the city should change its government structure.

Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill Wednesday that alters state law to allow ballots on change-of-government measures to go before voters in any month. Previously, they were only allowed during November general elections.

In Bainbridge’s case, the bill allows voters to decide whether the city should do away with its elected mayor position in favor of a city manager hired by the City Council.

The bill, granted emergency status last month, was quickly passed by the state House and spent just more than a week in the Senate. Rep. Christine Rolfes and Sen. Phil Rockefeller, both Bainbridge Democrats, sponsored the bill in their respective houses.

Bainbridge City Councilwoman Debbie Vancil said Wednesday the bill would be important to all municipalities to help them govern their own affairs. She said the Legislature and the governor recognized Bainbridge Island’s immediate need for the bill and gave it an emergency status, which means it took effect the moment the governor signed it.

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Road rage leads to a knockout punch

A 38-year-old Bainbridge man was flown to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle with serious injuries Monday night following a fist fight on the side of a south island road, according to the Bainbridge Island Police Department.

The 38-year-old got into a fight with a 58-year-old man, also of Bainbridge, on the side of the road in the 6300 block of Eagle Harbor Drive at about 8:30 p.m.

The 58-year-old is believed to have punched the 38-year-old in the face, which knocked the 38-year-old to the ground and unconscious, police said.

The 58-year-old was released by police pending further investigation, police said.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call Bainbridge police at (206) 842-5211.

-Josh Farley

Scales: “Who’s in charge at City Hall?”

In an open letter to the City Council, mayoral candidate Bob Scales said a lack of leadership contributed to the city’s financial troubles. Read the letter below…

As I watched your discussions tonight about the city’s financial problems, I kept asking myself: “Who is in charge?”

Is it Mayor Darlene Kordonowy? City Administrator Mark Dombroski? Finance Director Elray Konkel? City Attorney Paul McMurray? A council member? Who is going to lead the city in this time of crisis? Who is going to take responsibility for solving the city’s financial mess? Who is going to come up with a financial recovery plan? Who is going to implement that plan?

Nothing was done in the mayor’s proposed 2009-2010 budget to reduce the impacts of this economic crisis. Nothing was done by the council during the budget process to protect the city from insolvency. Less than two months after the budget was adopted, the city finds itself on the brink of bankruptcy. This is no longer a dire prediction made by a few concerned citizens. These are the words of your own city administrator. The city is insolvent. Unfortunately it is an admission that may come too late to avert the city’s imminent collapse.

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Should cyclists ride or walk over the Agate Pass Bridge?

The Kitsap Sun’s transportation blogger Travis Baker gets some questions and some answers about whether riders can or should pedal over to the mainland.

Here’s the initial question, sent in from an island resident:

“My husband and I moved to Bainbridge Island over 34 years ago. At that time, the Agate Pass Bridge was posted ‘Bike Riders Must Walk Over the Bridge.’

That sign disappeared long ago and many times we have had to watch carefully for bike riders that insist upon riding over the bridge. We are considerate with our driving, especially where they are no bike lanes, but it is an accident waiting to happen with the heavy commuter traffic traveling north from Bainbridge.

What will it take to have the sign posted?”

Read a state transportation planner’s response in Baker’s blog here.

Short answer: There was no legal basis for the sign. Cyclists have just as much right to pedal the bridge as motorists have to drive it.

My two cents: Hitting a cyclist brings a curse on your house for eight generations. Be careful.

Marshall: A vigil for a father in hospice

Islander columnist Becky Fox Marshall writes this month about the last days spent at her father’s side.

I am memorizing the room like my life depends on it.

The walls are buttery yellow. Cheerful, but not too much so. Warm and calming, like a sunrise.

Hardwood floors and modern, halogen lighting, a handmade quilt over the loveseat. It reminds me of a four-star hotel room. My sister is doing a puzzle on a small, round pedestal table in the corner under a flat-screen TV cantilevered from the wall. CNN is on, but it’s muted. Blagojevich has been unanimously ousted by Illinois lawmakers. His mouth is moving but there is no sound.

My dad takes a breath and then is silent. We both look at him, wondering if that was his last. Long, agonizing seconds go by. Then another breath. My sister goes back to the puzzle, and I to my memorization. The sink is sparkling stainless steel and a new Sunbeam coffee maker sits on the shiny granite counter, next to a package of mouth swabs and dad’s single-coffee bags.

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