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Bainbridge council makes decision on WSF money

Eagle Harbor's waterfront is set to get a facelift after the city council finally decided where to put the $2 million settlement from Washington State Ferries that's been burning a hole in the city's pocket for two years.

The Bainbridge Island City Council voted to direct $1.85 million of the settlement to improve Waterfront Park and earmarked $150,000 for the city's Road Ends Committee.

The Road Ends Committee has been waiting for funding for a large number of projects at island road ends that provide community access to the beach.

The move came swiftly after a brief discussion over the list of options for the money that the council's ad hoc committee had developed. The committee was comprised of Councilwoman Anne Blair and Councilman David Ward.

Blair has brought forth options for the ferry funds three times since March.

The first option was to form a community panel to distribute the funds.

The second suggestion directed money toward Waterfront Park, the Road Ends Committee, and left a little over for another panel to take up.

Council members seemed to lean toward the second option, but Councilman Bob Scales had one modification that the council liked. He said the city should ditch the panel proposal and dedicate $1.85 million to Waterfront Park with the remaining $150,000 to go toward road end projects.

"With $150,000, that will certainly give the road ends committee probably more than one year's worth of projects to work on," Scales said.

"I don't think there is any question that, currently, Waterfront Park is very sad," Scales added.

"It's sad to look at, it's sad to use … with this $1.85 million we could implement a vision for Waterfront Park," he said.

Councilman Steve Bonkowski followed by making a motion that adopted Scales' idea.

"Second," Scales said to the motion. "What a great idea!"

Bonkowski agreed that the park was in dire need of funding, particularly the dock.

"The dock is a disgrace, if not unsafe," Bonkowski said.

The council approved the funding for Waterfront Park and the Road Ends Committee, but it is just the first step.

With funds now directed to specific water-related goals, a plan will have to be set for improvements to the park, which includes the city dock.

The council plans to invite the public to future meetings on how to allocate the money.

The city of Bainbridge Island received the $2 million through a settlement agreement with Washington State Ferries after a dispute over property that is adjacent to Waterfront Park.

 

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