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Residents worried about Hidden Cove beach access
One island resident has sparked a neighborhood uproar after trying to make the end of Hidden Cove Road a little more hidden.
The Bainbridge Island City Council got an earful Wednesday from islanders asking to keep the dead end as it has been for more than 100 years.
The council asked City Attorney Will Patton to enter into discussions with residents with the hope to maintain the road’s historic use, which has a stairwell the public uses to get to the beach.
The island boasts multiple road ends that provide public access to the shoreline. There are so many that the city formed a committee solely dedicated to their management in 1992.
That committee has recently been pleading with the city council to address the emerging issue of the Hidden Cove Road end.
The neighboring property owner, Rick Hennessey, recently poured concrete part way down the road where his property begins. His intention was to install a gate that would block vehicular access past where his property runs alongside the road.
Hennessey also recently planted small shrubs at the end of the road end, blocking where cars would normally turn around.
The community surrounding the west end of Hidden Cove Road has since become inflamed. Some fear their neighbor intends to cut off pedestrian access to the beach.
The Hidden Cove Road end has been in existence for more than 100 years, and provides public access to the shore near Agate Pass. A mosquito ferry fleet used to service the road, and some say a post office once was established near its shoreline.
Today, however, the ferry fleets are gone. The historic pathway passes between two island homes and leads down to where the city has built a stairway for easier beach access. It is not uncommon for vehicles to travel down the narrow road to deposit items and people before turning around.
Hennessey’s actions near the road end’s has stirred the Hidden Cove community, however, and has turned neighbor against neighbor.
At Wednesday’s city council meeting, the feud spread into the council chambers with members from the Hidden Cove community and beyond lined up to press the council to keep the road open.
“Hidden Cove Road goes down across our property before it goes across the Hennessey property,” said Terry Kukuk.
“Since 1972 we and our family have continuously have used the road end by car and by foot, and we have observed other families use the read end by car and by foot,” he added.
Islander Sylvan Munch has lived at his Hidden Cove address since 1949, and his family owned other properties in the area in the past.
In fact, his grandfather once owned the Hennessey’s property.
Munch asked that the council do something to preserve public access.
Vince Larson of the city’s Road End Committee said Hennessey’s alterations are already preventing people from using the road end as access to the beach.
Hennessey, however, said that he never has attempted to cut off anyone’s access but that he just wants clear boundary lines made.
“We have never once blocked or restricted anybody from going down there,” Hennessey said. “We have never said that we are going to block people from going down there.”
Hennessey added that the road end was not a “road” and said it should be transformed into more of a trail.
In a recent letter from Hennessey’s lawyer to the city, Hennessey asked that a new paved pedestrian path on the south side of the road be constructed.
Should the city agree, Hennessey has offered to “contribute a reasonable amount to the cost” of the project.
He also noted he has made considerable improvements to the road end, including re-grading, re-graveling and installing culverts for drainage.
Neighbors do not support the pathway idea and have said that they prefer to use the road as is has been for more than a century.