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Things heat up on shoreline, downtown

As the temperature rises, islanders take to the water.

So too does the attention of historic preservationists in the face of change, both distant and imminent.

Those on land mull the implications of the $20.6 million Winslow Way Street­scape, the biggest cap­ital project ever undertaken by the city.

And at the end of the third quarter of 2007, following a heated community debate, Mayor Darlene Kordonowy has the final say.

“My hope, my dream, my perfect outcome for this would have been for a unanimous decision of council,” she says after breaking a tie among City Councilors regarding Streetscape funding. “But I believe this work must go forward.”

July

Fittingly, the fuse is lit on the Fourth of July. Along with the usual spectacles, parade-goers take in the future of the parade route – the Winslow Way of tomorrow – at an information booth run by Streetscape planners. Reviews are mixed.

Bainbridge Performing Arts announces a management shakeup. Christopher Shainin is out, replaced by a management “triumvirate” of manager Susan Sivitz, with artistic director, Steven Fogell and operations director Kim Failla.

Goings: Chris Endresen leaves her post as Kitsap County commissioner for a job with U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell. The remaining commissioners appoint former city manager and budget director Stephen Bauer of North Kitsap to take her place. Also stepping down is Bainbridge City Administrator Mary Jo Briggs after just three years on the job. Briggs cites “the inability of the City Council and administration to work together in a collegial and productive manner” as the linchpin in her decision. She agrees to stay in the post for six months, during which time nothing changes.

Comings: Hank Teran is hired as the new chief of the Bainbridge Island Fire Department. Teran hails from Long Beach, Calif., and caps a year-long search. Ashley Armstrong is hired as the new executive director of the Bainbridge Island Downtown Association. The Bremerton resident most recently practiced law in Seattle.

Former councilwoman Lois Curtis donates a six-acre parcel on Ferncliff Avenue for the express purpose of developing affordable housing. Zoning would allow up to 29 units on property. “I was being quiet about it,” she says, “but this is a small island and you can’t keep things a secret.”

History at a crossroads: An island couple buys the careworn Lynwood Center business complex with an eye to restoring it. Down the road, historic preservationists decry plans to fill in Battery Nash, a century-old gun emplacement at Fort Ward, to accommodate new homes.

August

Biologists go drilling for salmon at Schel-chelb Creek as they prepare to build a fish passage. The plan is to cut through a man-made earthen dam to increase spawning habitat.

Downtown, planners discuss how to better manage creeks of rainwater flowing down the future Winslow Way – they unveil an array of “green” stormwater treatment elements they hope to use as part of the Streetscape.

One Jackson launches another when Roy sets afloat the Dolores M., a schooner he built over three decades outside his Crystal Springs home.

Creosote makes its first of many appearances in the month, as various agencies meet at City Hall to discuss the future course of cleanup at the Wyckoff Superfund site. City, state and tribal leaders favor extracting an estimated 1 million gallons of creosote in the ground at the mouth of Eagle Harbor; the EPA wants to cap the problem and call it day, or given the length of the project so far, a decade.

Calls to preserve island history continue piling up – literally. City planners announce joint plans with the state to rid island waters and shorelines of old pilings contaminated with creosote, which scientists say can damage marine habitat. Preservationists counter that contamination has been overstated and that pilings – as remnants of historical structures like docks and piers – should be saved. Similar sentiments arise soon after, when planners float the idea of removing historic structures associated with the former mill operation at Blakely Harbor.

Over budget and already two years behind schedule, planners announce that restoration of the Battle Point Transmitter Building will be further stalled due to funding problems.

After 31 years in Bainbridge Blue, Patti Ritchie bids adieu to Bainbridge Police by turning in her badge and cruising into retirement.

Another island institution – Town & Country – celebrates its 50th anniversary with a gala picnic in Waterfront Park. The occasion conjures up fond memories of a place thought of by many as the cultural center of the island. “I don’t shop anywhere else,” says Patsy Larson, a regular customer since 1981. “The people here care about the community and the families in it.”

Neighbors at Manitou Beach petition to oppose a parking area on city-owned open space there. The land was purchased by the city in 2003 to be restored as a salt marsh before plans changed.

Bainbridge Little Leaguers are given a big-league check on a big-league diamond – Safeco Field – as the Seattle Mariners donate money to help rebuild “Ed’s Shed,” the scorekeeper’s booth torched by an arsonist several months earlier.

Some 45 islanders lace up their hiking boots to attend the official opening of the Fort Ward to Blakely Harbor Trail. Eight years in the making, the trail begins at the north end of the state park’s upper entrance and winds 1.25 miles to Country Club Road.

September

The council kicks off the month by saying “no” for the first time to a proposal by the city’s Open Space Commission. All agree the “Williams property” on Manzanita would make a fine park, but detractors worry that the purchase is too rushed, too expensive and concedes too much to a developer involved.

Island students learn they’re at the top of the state in Washington Assessment of Student Learning testing...again.

As election season ramps up, an old debate about political signs resurfaces when councilors decide to reconsider the city’s sign ordinance. The conflict centers around campaigners being required to ask permission of abutting property owners before posting signs in rights of way.

Historians find a forgotten building in Pritchard Park that likely dates back to the early 1900s, when a former creosote plant was there. Its contents: an old well. Its purpose: still unknown.

Also unknown is how the city will pay for the Streetscape. Planners promise answers soon.

A week after nixing purchase of the Williams property, councilors say the discussion is back on the table. They ask owners for more time to restructure the deal.

The Bainbridge Island Historical Museum unveils new long-term exhibits in its newly restored schoolhouse. “A Voyage Through Bainbridge History” boasts artifacts hitherto tucked away in the museum vault.

Meadowmeer residents appeal to the city for help dealing with a resurgent coyote population, sparking a debate in the Review’s letters page over proper pet management.

Controversy surrounds the city’s swollen capital plan as different groups – including seniors and soccer players – vie for funding. After being excluded earlier, both groups are appeased.

A study shows that art is big business on Bainbridge, bringing nearly $9 million into local coffers annually.

Pay parking in Winslow is discussed as a way to fund a planned parking garage downtown. Predictably, few buy the idea.

Still considering the Williams property, the city finds out it may have been taken advantage of in an earlier open space deal for the Meigs Farm property, after a second appraisal values the land at less than half of what the city paid for it. The first appraiser disputes the findings of the second.

Neighbors move and restore a dilapidated gazebo at the grassy knoll between Ericksen Avenue and Hildebrand Lane. As thanks, they get a stop work order from the city: they forgot to ask for a permit.

Planners talk of buying or leasing land from private landowners for temporary parking downtown. The lot would help make up for downtown spaces displaced by Streetscape construction.

With her tie-breaking vote, the mayor keeps Streetscape construction on schedule, to the glee of some and dismay of others who say the project is being pushed forward by “fear tactics.”

Less controversy is stirred by a photography exhibit at Grace Episcopal Church. Created by photographer – and parishioner – Thomas Schworer, the exhibit features nudes that evoke spirits or wood nymphs straight out of mythology.

Incidentally, the show’s title foresees something of the city budget process to come in the final quarter of the year: “Navigating by Faith.”

Community Events, April 2014

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