Park commissioners support Robinson | Letter to the editor

To the editor:

We’re asking you to join us in voting to reelect Kirk Robinson as commissioner for Bainbridge parks.

We’ve had the privilege to work with Kirk prior to his joining the park board as well as for the past several years as a board member. He has always been a strong advocate for preserving our open space on the island, leading efforts to make sure our nature-oriented parks remain as open space and available for passive recreation.

He has been leading the effort to improve access for people of all abilities. He regularly visits various parks with people who have mobility impairments to experience the issues and help park staff take measures to improve access.

For many years he was involved with youth sports — as a parent, basketball and softball coach, and board member of Bainbridge Island Little League, where he worked to improve facilities for girls’ softball. Although his daughters have grown and moved on with their lives, Kirk still regularly helps with the high school softball team.

As an avid cyclist, he is a strong advocate for all forms of non-motorized transportation. He has served as Board liaison to citizens groups, such as the senior center, city’s Multi-Modal Transportation Advisory Committee, the Dog Advisory Working Group, and various city-park district joint committees. He regularly attends city council and other city meetings to make sure that the park district is represented. He is also the board’s expert on finances.

During his career with the EPA, he managed the budgets of many projects. His experience with and knowledge of public financing has proven invaluable to district staff and fellow board members. During the boom times several years ago, he advocated establishing a strong budget reserve to help the district weather any lean years and to allow us to take advantage of unexpected opportunities. During the recession, while other agencies were laying off staff and drastically cutting services, because of this foresight and responsible budget advocacy, the park district was able to draw on these reserves to maintain, and in some cases increase services, without any staff reductions. We were also able to purchase the West Gazzam properties to be able to preserve the lake from development next door. It’s important to note that the district did this without borrowing money.

As commissioner, Kirk puts the interests of the entire Bainbridge community before his own personal feelings. We think of him as the “conscience of the board,” as he not afraid to address unpopular and sometimes controversial issues. His stances are not always popular, but they are always reasoned and principled. When he is on the “short end” of a board vote, he supports the majority decision.

Kirk’s efforts have helped the park district make major advances and he is helping to lay the groundwork for many positive developments the next few years. We wholeheartedly endorse Kirk and hope you will join us in voting to reelect him as Park Commissioner.

KEN DEWITT AND JOHN (TOM) SWOLGAARD

Bainbridge Island

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