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Robinson named to park board

Volunteerism piqued Kirk Robinson’s interest in the Bainbridge Island Park and Recreation District board, and it earned him a place on it.

“I think it helps any community when people get involved,” said Robinson, a youth sports volunteer appointed by unanimous vote of the four sitting park board members last week.

Robinson was selected from a slate of six hopefuls. He fills a vacancy created by the resignation last month of Daryle Schei, who cited the desire to spend more time traveling with his wife.

Robinson will serve until November, when he must stand for election to a full four-year term.

Board members hadn’t expected to fill the seat for another two weeks, but found quick consensus after a round of candidate interviews. Robinson’s history of volunteer work with the district tipped the decision in his favor, several members said.

“All the candidates were good,” commissioner Ken DeWitt said. “It was a tough decision for us.”

Agreed commissioner Dave Shorett: “We had really good candidates. But Kirk more than anyone else had earned it, by the amount of time and effort he has put in to helping out the park district in a variety of ways.”

Robinson, 49, has lived on Bainbridge for 14 years, and works as a program analyst for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He also represents bicycling interests on the Tariff Policy Committee of the state Transportation Commission, which deals primarily with ferry fares.

Like his predecessor, Robinson brings to the board a keen interest in youth sports. He has two daughters involved in fastpitch programs, and runs an open gym two nights a week for players to work out.

“Particularly for kids who pitch, it gives them a chance to keep their arms in shape during the winter,” he said.

Robinson has served as an official with the Bainbridge Island Little League’s softball program, and most recently worked on an ad hoc park district committee looking at facilities needs.

It was the latter experience that inspired him to apply for the board when Schei resigned. It also highlighted two issues Robinson said the park board needs to tackle: new or improved space for youth gymnastics programs, and what to do with the remaining Gazzam Lake ball field funds.

Of the two, ball fields alternatives are likely to be resolved first. The district has about $380,000 left from the $800,000 earmarked by voters for field construction in the 1993 Gazzam Lake levy.

About half the money has been used to develop fields on Hidden Cove and Sands roads, and Little League officials have been critical of the district’s failure to complete other facilities.

The board most recently discussed using the fund balance to develop new ball fields in the southeast corner of Battle Point Park, an area now occupied by a stormwater detention pond. The project would be tied to a realignment of parking and roads at that end of the park, and would put an end to thru-traffic there.

But DeWitt said last week that commissioners think regrading and other site preparation would eat up all of the funds, leaving no money for the ball fields themselves.

Discussions were held with Little League and youth soccer officials last week, and the district may instead reconfigure the Hidden Cove Road field.

That complex now includes a baseball diamond and soccer practice area; under the new plan, the soccer end would be turned into two ball diamonds suitable for play by lower age groups.

The project would also require additional parking, which DeWitt said the district was ready to pursue through the city permitting process.

“If that’s something they can work out the details on and bring it before the board, I think that’s great,” Robinson said.

Also facing the board is how to replace director Dave Lewis, who leaves next month to take a position in Arcadia, Calif. The board may hold an executive session this week to discuss a course of action, and whether to take the search region- or nationwide.

“I think that’s going to occupy a lot of our time in the foreseeable future,” Robinson said. “It’s not going to be an easy or quick process, as far as I can tell.”

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