Bainbridge park group gets $80,000 grant as planning continues for the former Unocal gas station site

The group planning a new, green gateway to Bainbridge Island got a financial boost last week, bringing them one step closer to realizing their goal.

The Bainbridge Island Rotary Club has provided an $80,000 grant to the Citizens Park Task Force to help create a passive park on the former Unocal gas station site at the corner of Highway 305 and Winslow Way. The group will need to obtain funds from private donations to match the grant and pay for the project's planning and construction.

"As the project came along it was brought before the Rotary funding board. They just now approved it as a matching grant, so we are looking for other people to match that $80,000 as a condition of the funding," said Bruce Weiland of the Citizens Park Task Force.

Weiland said the group has pledged that the project will not dip into taxpayer money, and supporters are also trying get as many in-kind donations as possible.

The grant comes just as the group continues to work on possible plans for the gateway attraction after their first public meeting in February.

"The first public workshop was an open-ended idea fest," Weiland said. "We had about 175 items that our architecture volunteers took back to work on for design proposals."

The "idea fest" did have some parameters. The group doesn't plan on digging deep into the ground or having any major construction on the property, which is jointly owned by the city of Bainbridge Island and Kitsap Transit.

Weiland noted that after the first meeting, the group has been trying to get away from the term "park" when describing the project. While it is a park, he said that people assume it will be a recreational area and that isn't quite accurate.

"People think of a playground and picnic tables, but it's more of a plaza or a green space," Weiland said. "It's going to have pathways, and lots of native plants. It's just a place for getting to and from the ferry."

Weiland further added that there may also be opportunities for public art on the site.

The group's second public meeting, scheduled for April 12 in the Bainbridge High School library, will include more talk about the evolving proposals as well as public input.

Weiland said he expects a little more fine-tuning for the proposals during the second meeting.

The group is aiming for May to get approval for a park plan by the three government agencies involved; the site's co-owners, and the Bainbridge Island Metro Park & Recreation District, which will handle the maintenance of the completed project.

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