After nearly 100 years of confusion, the Hidden Cove road end has been deemed a road.
The seemingly simple, perhaps obvious, determination was actually quite a lengthy process.
A neighborly debate over the Hidden Cove road end erupted earlier this year when one island property owner attempted to cut off access to the shoreline. The matter turned neighbor against neighbor, and eventually led to a Kitsap Superior Court.
Concern over the road end drew islander after islander to a June 27 city council meeting, pleading for the city to preserve it.
“I believe the Hennesseys should not be allowed to finish the gate as it gives the impression that the road end is not open,” islander Sylvan Munch told the council in June.
Munch’s family formerly owned the property surrounding the road end, and Munch himself has lived there since 1949.
The Hennessey family, who now reside near the shoreline, began modifying the road in an apparent attempt to cut off vehicular access to the shore.
Concrete was poured for a gate and foliage was planted where cars would commonly park or turn around.
The property owners made it clear that there were not blocking access to the beach. They argued, however, that the pathway was not a road, rather a trail and that vehicles should not be allowed down it.
But history made another argument, one that the superior court upheld.
The Hidden Cove road end has been in existence since before county records first mention it in 1904. It provided access to a mosquito fleet of steam ships. A post office and country store were also once located at its end.
Today, the mosquito fleets are long gone and the road end is now surrounded by homes. A public beach lies at its end, and the city even built stairs for easier access to the shoreline.
The issue was brought to a head by the city, and neighbors Michael and Diane Dwyer, Terry and Judy Kukuk, and Rick and Merritt Hennessey, who all live along the road end.
The city, the Dwyers and Kukuks all claimed that the Hidden Cove road end was a public road and not a trail. A Kitsap Superior Court recently agreed and made it legally official.
But that was the easy part.
The more vexing aspects of the case lay in where boundary and property lines were drawn.
To date, clear lines have been murky at best. When the county first began mapping the area in the early 1900s, it noted Hidden Cove Road as running directly east and west — a mistake. The road end actually runs at a northern-slanting angle, which would seemingly give the Dwyers more property on their side of the road and cut right into the Hennessey’s property.
Similar property line issues effected the Kukuks further down the line.
The final solution required all parties to work together. Each neighbor, and the city, gave up a portion of land to accommodate the use of the road.
It was also established that space for two cars to park and turn around would be preserved.