"At last, Nelson land a park"
June 9, 2008 · Updated 3:42 PM
"While officials consider an impact fee to fund new recreation areas, the park district's newest holding comes cheap.A dollar a year for 99 years.That's the lease price approved by the city council Wednesday, transferring control of John Nelson Park to the Bainbridge Island Park District.There is potential here, whether it be for picnicking, play or (nature) interpretation, park district director David Lewis said Friday, touring the five-acre parcel. I guess we're pretty wide open.The property, just north of the Bentryn winery off Highway 305, was bequeathed to the city of Winslow by the Nelson family some five decades ago. While the family's intent was to see it used as a park, it became a public works yard and materials storage area instead.The public works department, which needed considerably more equipment and space after all-island annexation, finally moved to a larger parcel on Hidden Cove Road five years ago.The Nelson property now looks more like salvage yard - disused city vehicles and trailers, junk office furniture left over from the old city hall building, a fuel tank, impounded boats, random equipment and gravel piles are arrayed about the site. An abandoned house once occupied by the Nelson family sits ramshackle and boarded up; the surrounding trees are overrun by English ivy.Under the lease agreement - the result of ongoing intergovernmental discussions, and slated to be signed by the park board next week - the city has until the end of the year to remove its remaining equipment.Mayor Dwight Sutton said some of the items would be surplused, while the police department will have to find a new storage area for abandoned bicycles and other items now kept there.It's hard to have a vision of it without all this stuff here, Lewis said.One vision has already taken shape in the mind of Ian Bentryn, who grew up next door to the property and has long eyed it for public use. With the construction of paths and footbridges, he sees the parcel as a natural nexus for pedestrian routes linking several Winlow neighborhoods - Ericksen Avenue with Ferncliff, High School Road East with Cave Avenue and the ferry terminal.If you think of a map of Winslow, this is almost the geographical center, Bentryn said. It's almost like a star.As it sits adjacent to the Winslow ravine and its stream, Bentryn also sees the potential for a salmon restoration project.As the park district already has a full plate for this year - completion of the new aquatic facility and the Sands Avenue ball fields - there is no set timetable for looking at future improvements and uses.I can guarantee you it won't be another 50 years, Lewis said. "