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Park M&O levy upped -- News Roundup

The Bainbridge Island Park Board will take public comment Thursday on its upcoming maintenance and operations levy.

The levy is slated to appear on the Sept. 17 primary ballot; at issue this week is the levy amount, which has changed since a first attempt failed at the polls in February.

As proposed, the two-year, $4.92 million levy would support park district operations for 2003-2004.

The levy amount has been upped from the previous levy amount of $4.8 million.

Park District director Dave Lewis attributed to the changes to higher-than-anticipated insurance costs, and the decision to seek $50,000 in additional funding for seasonal grounds maintenance over the two-year period.

Election costs were also higher than anticipated, Lewis said, draining the district’s carry-over from the current budget.

But the projected levy rate – a one-time assessment at $1.37 per $1,000 valuation on island homes – would actually go down from an earlier projection of $1.48. The dip follows the recent jump in the island’s total assessed valuation.

The park levy earned 59 percent approval in February, falling shy of the 60 percent required.

At that time, the levy was opposed in newspaper advertisements by a group calling itself Parents for Better Parks. The group was critical of district operations, citing poor ball field maintenance and an incident in which rainwater backed up into the new skate park.

Tom Hujar, spokesman for the organization, called on the park board to run a higher levy, or to change its taxing status to that of a “metropolitan” park district for more stable funding.

Bainbridge Island Little League officials were also critical of the district, again citing ball field maintenance. The district has since codified new policies for field upkeep, although the Little League board has yet to approve the agreement.

Since the first go-round, a political action committee called Partners for Parks has formed to support the levy.

District officials say that if the levy fails, island parks will shut down at the first of the year.

The park board meets at 7 p.m. July 11 at the Strawberry Hill Center. Information: 842-2306.

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***Thieves swap stolen vehicles

Thieves played “musical cars” with vehicles in the ferry terminal parking area over the weekend, police say.

Bainbridge Police were called to the Diamond lot near the terminal around 11:30 p.m. Saturday, to a report of a vehicle prowl.

Officers found a van with its window smashed out; a second vehicle nearby showed similar damage, and was also missing its ignition.

The second vehicle, a 1992 Dodge pickup, had been reported stolen from Poulsbo and was impounded.

Police returned to the lot several hours later, when a Poulsbo man returned on the ferry and could not find his truck in the city-owned parking area.

His vehicle was described as a 1989 Chevrolet Suburban, metallic blue in color. The truck contained an array of camera and sports equipment, as well as an heirloom wristwatch.

The owner got a ride home from friends; the vehicle had not been recovered as of Monday afternoon.

Given the circumstances, police speculated suspects abandoned the pickup at the terminal, swapping it for the Chevrolet.

Police also listed the “prowl” incident as an attempted vehicle theft, apparently foiled because the thieves were unable to defeat the ignition system.

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***Lynwood road repairs closer

Repairs to Lynwood Center Road are inching closer.

With plans to shore up the failing roadway near Emerald Heights at hand, city planners this week issued a formal determination that the project will have no significant environmental impact.

Randy Witt, public works director, said his department expects to put the project out to bid in early August, with a contract awarded shortly thereafter.

“We’ll ask (the contractors) to push it, so they can get in there as early as they can in fall,” Witt said Monday. “We’d want to get that done this year.”

The road has been reduced to one lane since early January, when a slope on the east shoulder began sliding away. Testing determined that the road was built atop a layer of “gooshy” fill material, which failed during a period of rain and undermined the asphalt.

“Yield” signs in each direction now meter traffic along a 100-foot stretch of roadway. The closure has frustrated some area motorists, while public works officials have been irked by ongoing vandalism to the barricades.

Plans call for installation of a retaining wall to shore up the road on the east side, and excavation and reconstruction of the roadbed itself.

Comments during the environmental review period will be incorporated into the final design, Witt said. Comments should be submitted to the planning department, Attn: Josh Machen, by July 22.

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