Bainbridge Parks Foundation brokers Waypoint Woods, a new 3-acre downtown park

The ferry chase in my household begins twenty ‘til.

My husband, in the shower, serenely scrubs his hair, while I dropkick the door, my patience steamrolled by total panic mode. At this point, I’ve feigned trust for at least 10 minutes, issuing nonchalant warnings that our time has come — to no avail.

But I’ve also been distracted by either library books, mascara or my phone, so there’s been an undercurrent of indifference in my threats and he knows it. At the last possible second, when our delaying will almost certainly cause us to miss the boat, I finally implode. And he ties his shoes and remembers his sunglasses and drinks a pint of water, my beloved turtle, to the raging chorus of “WE GOTTA GO!!!”

The above routine is not good for our marriage. I, uber-planner, do not like chaos. I especially do not like my husband’s vexingly adorable grin when, by a hair, he wins and we do not miss the boat because of his grooming. And yet, I perpetuate our frantic scramble every time by not insisting we arrive 20, 30, 40 minutes early. Then again, who wants to wait at the terminal unduly? A mutant-sized frog, travel brochures and trivia about Lizzie Ordway can only captivate your attention for so long.

Waypoint Woods, however, is a different beast; in my case, a free alternative to couples therapy. The fledgling park at the corner of Winslow Way and Olympic Drive is lovely, pensive, close to the ferry: the impetus I need to lure us both out of the house well before the boat starts loading.

In the beginning, the land was a Suquamish campsite, peppered with madrones and birds drunk on vermilion berries. Years later, Washington State Ferries purchased a 3-acre parcel and envisioned overflow parking. But that use didn’t come to fruition because of severely sloping terrain. So the site sat vacant, undisturbed except for the occasional drifter.

In April, however, Bainbridge Island Parks Foundation struck a deal with the state ferry system to lease the plot for 20 years. Barb Trafton, the foundation’s executive director, said islanders have been begging her to develop a trail through the ravine since the nonprofit’s inception. While too complicated a scheme for the present — the ravine’s ownership involves many private hands — Trafton realized, through a series of vision-casting exercises at a board retreat, that the adjacent woods were the perfect candidate for her organization’s work of preservation.

The Waypoint itself served as a model for the collaboration. It used to be a weedy, chain-linked mess, with soil contaminated by its previous tenant, a Unocal gas station. Then the city and Kitsap Transit bought the property, and turned it over to community volunteers and the park district for beautification.

“All the people that worked together to make the Waypoint possible, with all the private donors and Rotary and Bainbridge Community Foundation and probably others I’m forgetting, I think they showed what a difference a little corner can make,” Trafton said.

The foundation’s college crews were busy this summer, clearing out holly and ivy and forging a loop trail that begins by the Harborview Drive anchor.

But Trafton still has much in store; interpretive signage, stone benches, additional entry points and overlooks of the ferry yard and, more scenically, Eagle Harbor.

Eventually, the trail will connect to the Waypoint and with the ravine bridge near Waterfront Park.

“This next year will be one of really flushing out the design, figuring out the budget and starting to fundraise,” Trafton explained.

“And we’ll do continued invasive weed work and tweaking to the trail to make it better.”

Jones &Jones will lead the design for Waypoint Woods, their work beginning as soon as the city finalizes plans for Olympic Drive. That project, pedestrian and bicycle improvements that will stretch the road and affect the expanse of Waypoint Woods, should go out to bid in the first quarter, city spokeswoman Kellie Stickney confirmed.

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