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A new vision for Camp Yeomalt

A new community lodge is proposed for Camp Yeomalt, to replace the dilapidated structure now on site. - Courtesy of Jones and Jones Architects
A new community lodge is proposed for Camp Yeomalt, to replace the dilapidated structure now on site.
— image credit: Courtesy of Jones and Jones Architects

From aging logs may be hewn many more generations of memories.

Plans for a new lodge at Camp Yeomalt should include some reuse of rough timbers from the current scout cabin, and reconstruction of its granite fireplace in a new but classically styled building.

“It’s a historic site,” said Perry Barrett, park district planner, “and you can’t have something old enough and loved enough on Bainbridge Island.”

Designs for a lodge on the three-acre site, at Yeomalt and Park avenues east of Winslow, were unveiled for the Bainbridge Island Park District board at its Thursday meeting. The presentation was made by Mark Johnson, an associate with the Seattle architectural firm of Jones and Jones whose principal are longtime island residents.

The $21,000 worth of design services were funded by an anonymous donor.

Plans call for dismantling the sagging cabin now on the site, a building that dates to the 1930s and FDR’s Works Progress Administration and that is no longer safe for occupancy.

In its place would go two buildings, a 1,300-square-foot main hall and a detached restroom joined by a covered walkway.

The hall would accommodate up to 90 persons for scouting retreats, classes and other low-key activities. The detached restrooms could be kept open for general park use even when the cabin itself is secured. The plan carries the endorsement of a stakeholders group that included neighbors and users.

Johnson described the design as “modern rustic,” suggesting the classic lines of the cabin and other period structures associated with western parks.

The facility would be situated to avoid clearing the second-growth firs on the property, he said, and the rough logs from the current cabin could be milled for reuse, or incorporated in some sort of artistic treatment.

Also, the stone fireplace and chimney would be dismantled and reconstructed as the new building’s centerpiece.

“I think it’s important that we mine the building both for style and materials,” Johnson said. “We can’t throw it away.”

Cost of the project – for which there is no timeline for development – is estimated at more than $500,000, inspiring a round of gulps and groans from park commissioners.

“It’s a great concept, and it’s beautiful,” commissioner Dave Shorett said. “Hopefully, somebody will dump $550,000 on us and say ‘go build it.’”

But Barrett described the project as “graspable,” given the site’s history and the Bainbridge community’s investment therein.

The park has been associated with youth scouting programs since it was developed 70 years ago, and was the subject of considerable discussion two years ago when the moniker “Camp Hopkins” was discarded in favor of a new name.

“In terms of fund-raising, we’re already well on our way,” Barrett said, “with having a product and having it out the door, and having willing stakeholders.”

The board commissioned Johnson and his colleagues to fine-tune the designs, as fund-raising strategies are considered.

Said commissioner Ken DeWitt: “We can’t preserve the exact building, but we can certainly preserve the heritage of it.”

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