Category Archives: Parks

Sewage concerns close Blakely park’s beach

UPDATE: Most of the sewage was contained in a nearby wetland. The city and sewer plant operator plan to pump out the sewage on Monday. Click here for our latest story on the spill.

Public health officials are warning people to steer clear of Tani Creek and Blakely Harbor Park’s beach after sewage leaked into a wetland near the Fort Ward sewage treatment plant.

Here’s our report from yesterday.

The wetland, which sits next to a public trail, connects to Tani, which flows into Blakely.

The state Dept. of Ecology warned that “contact with fecal contaminated waters can result in gastroenteritis, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses. Children and the elderly may be more vulnerable to waterborne illnesses.”

The Kitsap Public Health District has taken water samples from Tani and Blakely to see how far the contamination spread from the wetland. Results were expected today, but it looks like we’ll have to wait until Thursday afternoon for confirmation the sewage spread beyond the wetland.

Sewer district board member Sarah Lee estimates between 3,000 and 5,000 gallons of partially-treated sewage leaked from a hole in a 40,000-gallon tank.

The cause of the hole is not yet known, but it doesn’t appear it was punctured or damaged by force.

The health district isn’t sure how the mess will be cleaned up – if at all. The sewer district pumped out some of the sewage from their grounds on Friday, shortly after the leak was discovered.

On Monday, the health district discovered the sewage had traveled out of the treatment plant property and into the wetland, which is down-slope of the plant.

It appeared much of the sewage was caught and partially contained by a “log jam” in the wetland, according to health district water specialist Stuart Whitford.

Water test results will guide next steps. Cleaning the mess could include pumping out portions of the wetland. If the testing shows relatively low levels of contamination, the health district and Ecology officials may take a hands-off approach.

I’m off for the next two days, so look for environmental reporter Chris Dunagan’s followup story on the testing results.

Meeting set for turning empty lot into ‘gateway’ park

The group of islanders working to transform the former Unocal gas station lot into a public park has set its first public participation meeting for Feb. 16.

The meeting, which starts at Bainbridge Commons (370 Brien Drive) at 7 p.m., is aimed at gathering ideas for the 1-acre park’s design.

The group got the City Council’s OK on Wednesday to begin the planning process after they promised to foot the entire $300,000 park-building bill.

The site is at the southwest corner of the Winslow Way-Highway 305 intersection. It has sat vacant and surrounded by a fence since 1989.

The group, which calls itself the Bainbridge Park Task Force, considers the site an eyesore, and provides a poor welcome to visitors unloading from the ferry or streaming into Winslow from the highway.

For more information, see their blog here.

PHOTO: Tristan Baurick

Island preschoolers help replant Meigs Park

Here’s Tad Sooter’s story about Island Cooperative Preschool’s effort to plant 50 fir trees at Meigs Park. The school is in the process of earning “Eco School” status from the National Wildlife Federation.

Bainbridge preschoolers replant island park
By Tad Sooter

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND – A few years from now the freshly planted Douglas fir seedlings at Meigs Park will be the size of Christmas trees. The children who planted them, meanwhile, will still be in elementary school.

Bundled up in fuzzy hats and rubber boots, students from Island Cooperative Preschool planted 50 firs at the park Nov. 19, with the help of their parents and tree specialist Jim Trainer.

The children were performing a community service by replanting a clearing recently stripped of invasive Scotch broom. But this was more than a work party. Parents and teachers also hope activities like the tree planting will help the children build an appreciation of the environment at a young age.

“It’s really important to get kids out and doing something real in nature, so they’ll grow up to be stewards of the earth,” teacher Ellen Carleson said.

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A path to one of Bainbridge’s great mysteries

I called up city Road Ends Committee chairwoman Bitsy Ostenson last week to chat about the rumor that someone had built a deck and stairwell on the Pleasant Lane road end, a narrow strip of property intended for public beach access.

Turns out the rumor was true. Ostenson isn’t happy about the private use of public land, and is a bit nonplussed about the city’s reticence to do anything about it.

But this is not nearly the only island road end that needs attention, she said.

A big one in her mind is the North Street road end on Agate Point. It’s the only public access point to the beach where a rare rock carving has sat facing Indianola for some 1,500 to 3,000 years.

Known as the Haleelts petroglyph, it confounded Bainbridge’s first white settlers and appears to be a mystery even to local tribes, said Bainbridge historian Jerry Elfendahl.

“Its origins are unknown to the Suquamish or anyone,” Elfendahl wrote in an essay about the petroglyph.

The petroglyph is grown over with barnacles but it’s periodically cleaned up to reveal what looks to be faces and human figures.

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Farm preservationists earn first Blakely Award

Steve Romein and his wife Ty Cramer earned a special commendation from the Bainbridge Historic Preservation Commission for their work rehabilitating the Lynwood Center building and preserving two south Bainbridge farms.

“Steve and Ty have set an excellent example for other developers to follow and made our community a better place in which to live,” the city commission said in a statement after awarding the couple the commission’s first Blakely Award for preservation leadership. The commission plans to give the award on an annual basis.

The commission also recognized the Bainbridge park district with a Blakely Award in the “project of excellence” category for its work to restore the cabin at Camp Yeomalt Park.

In 2007, Romein and Cramer began pouring money into fixing up and expanding the decaying Lynwood Center building in a manner that fit its 1930s-era Tudor style.

“In their renovation efforts, Ty and Steve chose to do so in a way that it would retain its original historic integrity,” the commission said. “The Lynwood Center neighborhood has been revitalized by their efforts.”

Early this year, Romein and Cramer purchased an Old Mill Road farm with the goal of preserving it as farmland and to develop a trail connecting to other public pathways. They also plan to rehabilitate two 19th-century farmhouses on the property.

The pair then purchased an even larger farm that island preservation groups have had their eye on for years. Romein and Cramer plan to put farmers to work on the land, develop a farming education program with nearby Blakely Elementary and set aside a portion as preserved open space.

You can read my profile of Steve Romein here.

Google map marks Bainbridge water access points

The city Road Ends Committee has developed an interactive online map marking more than 70 public water access points around the island.

Many of the points include a photo, a description and advice on how to find parking and trails.

The committee developed the map using Google Maps. You can find it here.

On a side note, the committee is seeking volunteers to maintain and improve the island’s road ends.

To volunteer as a road end steward, call call Nanci Burkel at (206) 780-0601.

Results are in: Your off-leash dog should earn you a citation

The Bainbridge Conversation’s last poll asked readers to weigh in on how the park district should handle the growing number of dogs at island parks. See related story here.

With a sturdy 53 percent of the vote, the top answer was for the park district to hand out citations to violators of off-leash and poop clean-up rules.

Coming in at Number Two with a distant 24 percent was a desire for the district to build more off-leash areas.

Seventeen percent said off-leash hours should be allowed at certain parks that get little use.

Five percent suggested that specially-trained dogs be allowed to go off-leash at parks.

And coming in last with one vote was the idea for an expanded off-leash area at Eagledale Park.

New Poll: How should parks handle all those dogs?

I recently wrote a story about how the Bainbridge park district is trying to handle the growing number of dogs visiting the island’s parks.

Dogs and their owners are attracted by the forested trails, the open fields and the chance to socialize, much like any other park user. Problem is, not all the other park users like being up-close with dogs they don’t know, and are especially peeved with the proliferation of dog poop and the increasingly frequent brushes with unleashed dogs.

Fun fact: there are more dogs on Bainbridge than humans under the age of five.

The park district knows dogs are here, and here to stay. They’re working now on a couple ways of accommodating the desires of both the dogged and the dogless.

One plan is to create new off-leash areas at Strawberry Hill and Battle Point parks. Another option is to expand and improve the little-used off-leash area at Eagledale Park. Others say dogs should be able to roam free at parks as long as they complete off-leash obedience training. Folks on the other end of the spectrum say dogs should always be leashed, and that the district should step up enforcement, possibly handing out citations for abandoned poop and unleashed dogs.

What do you think? Cast your vote on what the district should focus on over to the right.

Look below for the results from this blog’s last poll about 2010’s top stories.

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Sun endorses Eagle Harbor dock plan

The Kitsap Sun’s editorial board urged the city of Bainbridge to accept Washington State Ferries’ $2 million offer and use the money to build a new Waterfront Park dock.

“Taking a lump sum now — particularly in light of how city capital spending has dwindled the past few years — to complete a project that will be popular among residents and visitors is the most prudent approach, and the best option for Eagle Harbor’s future,” the board wrote in a Sunday editorial.

The City Council is set to choose between the dock proposal and a boat haul-out facility proposal at Wednesday evening’s meeting.

For more on the issue, head over HERE.

Strawberry Plant Park’s new beach takes shape

I stopped by Strawberry Plant Park today to check the progress of the beach restoration project.

The bulkhead, jetty and other remnants of the site’s industrial past have been removed, making way for a gradually sloping beach.

Once the project is completed by the year’s end, the city will transfer the property to the Bainbridge park district.

See a few more photos HERE.

Woodworkers unite!

The island’s woodworkers are joining forces to establish a community woodshop at the city-owned Johnson Farm on Fletcher Bay Road.

That’s a bit of the preliminary site plan above.

The effort’s got plenty going for it: over 200 people have shown strong interest in making use of the shop, and the City Council unanimously endorsed the idea. The next big hurtle for the group, known as the Bainbridge Community Woodshop, is fundraising. They’ve pulled together $50,000 of their own money, but about $550,000 more is required.

For more about the effort, read my story HERE.

See Bainbridge Community Woodshop’s website HERE.

The group is having a public meeting on Saturday, Nov. 13, at 9 a.m. at the Commons in Waterfront Park to discuss the woodshop plans. Two days later, on Nov. 15, the city will host a second meeting to gather public comments about the proposal. The city meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

By the way, the woodshop won’t just be for Bainbridge Islanders. Any dues-paying member will be able to use the shop.

The full woodshop site plan can be seen below.

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