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The Waypoint breaks ground

Jim Chapel, Ken DeWitt, Vicki Evans, Anne Blair, John Clauson, Debbi Lester, Terry Lande, Steve Davis hold the sign that will hang on the lot
Jim Chapel, Ken DeWitt, Vicki Evans, Anne Blair, John Clauson, Debbi Lester, Terry Lande, Steve Davis hold the sign that will hang on the lot's fence while work is underway.
— image credit: Richard D. Oxley / Bainbridge Island Review

It took less than a year for islanders to do it, and it wasn’t easy. But by the end of September, construction will finally start on The Waypoint park.

A groundbreaking ceremony for the park was held at the corner of Winslow Way and Olympic Drive Thursday, Sept. 27.

“We are here to celebrate the beginning of a transformation from an eyesore to a welcoming gathering space,” said Mayor Debbi Lester to a crowd gathered at the gravel pit that will soon break ground.

Lester thanked the efforts of the community. Councilwoman Anne Blair, as a member of the Kitsap Transit Board, also spoke along with Vicki Evans, president of the Bainbridge Island Rotary Club, and Ken DeWitt of the Bainbridge Island Parks District.

Islander Kelly Muldrow introduced the closing speaker, Bruce Weiland, who has been part of the project ever since the Citizen’s Park Task Force first began work on the project.

“No person played a bigger part in this than Bruce Weiland,” Muldrow said. “Local real estate attorney and cheerleader for everything good.”

“I would say that about 80 percent of you already volunteered toward this; it is that widely endorsed,” Weiland said to the crowd. “Despite how big the tent has been on this project, there is one person, who is going to hate me for saying this, but he has kept his finger on every piece of the puzzle, who has from the beginning been the guiding light for all these dozens of processes and hundreds of people and ideas, and that’s Jim Chapel.”

The Waypoint won't be much of a recreational destination like other island parks, rather, a simple trail with greenery that will lie at the entrance to the city by the ferry terminal. It will replace a chain linked fence that screens a vacant gravel lot at the corner of Winslow Way and Olympic Avenue.

“It will be a green space,” said Shannon Evans, a member of the park’s steering committee.

Local plants that relate to the neighboring ravine and island coastline will be featured.

“And there will be historical markers that are waypoints that tell of the history of the island,” Evans said.

The park will also serve as a guide to visitors to the island.

“Right now when you get off the ferry there’s not really a sign that says ‘hang a left and go to Winslow,’” Evans said.

Evans hopes The Waypoint will better reflect the island.

“We are a warm welcoming community and that corner has not represented that in many years,” she said. “This will be a more hospitable welcome for the six million people who get off the boat.”

“And frankly it will be nice to come home to as well,” she added.

The Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island is leading the fundraising effort for the park and has contributed $80,000 to the new gateway attraction. The service club will also act as project manager for the duration of the park’s construction before it is turned over to the Bainbridge Island Metro Parks & Recreation District for administration and maintenance.

Organizers of the park project said an additional $200,000 is needed for completion of the project and will be raised via donations as well as sponsorships of several site components such as historical markers, memorial benches, stone walls, boulders and wayfaring signs.

Editor Brian Kelly contributed to this article.

 

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