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County pledges $500K for park

Reimbursed by the state for buying one waterfront park, Kitsap County commissioners want to put the money towards buying another, this one on Bainbridge Island.

Last week, commissioners voted to earmark $500,000 towards the purchase of Pritchard Park on the south shore of Eagle Harbor.

“We thought it was appropriate because it was a regional park, it will be important to county users, and because we love partnerships,” said Commissioner Chris Endresen, who represents North Kitsap and Bainbridge Island.

In 1999, the county spent $1 million from its Conservation Futures Fund to purchase a 68-acre waterfront parcel in South Kitsap, which became Anderson Point Park.

The county got half of that money back through a grant from the state’s Washington Wildlife Recreation Program, and will put those dollars toward acquisition of the Bainbridge site.

The potential park is named for former state senator, U.S. congressman and lieutenant governor Joel Pritchard, a summertime island resident.

“Everyone, including city residents, pays into this fund,” Endresen said in a news release. “It’s only equitable that Bainbridge Island, with its high assessed values, have a share of the funds spent on projects near and dear to them.”

The pledge raises the pot for purchasing the 50-acre parcel to $2 million, one-quarter of the $8 million total needed.

“This is very exciting,” said Bainbridge City Council member Christine Rolfes, who is heading up the city’s efforts to acquire the site, which stretches from the mouth of Eagle Harbor west to Taylor Avenue.

The eastern portion of the site is being cleaned up by the Environmental Protection Agency to remove contamination left behind by the Wyckoff Company’s creosote operation on the point of land that extends into Eagle Harbor.

The land is owned by court-created trust. Proceeds from the sale will go to reimburse EPA for a portion of its cleanup expenses.

The trustee has agreed to sell the land for the appraised value of $8 million, and the Trust for Public Lands has entered into a purchase option. It will only exercise the option, though, if the city can raise the money to buy out TPL.

The plans call for the westerly portion of the site to become a memorial to the World War II internment of the island’s Japanese-American citizens, who were evacuated from Bainbridge on the Eagledale ferry dock at the foot of Taylor Avenue.

The memorial effort has received $1.5 million in state funding. The memorial committee set aside $1 million of that money for property acquisition, and the remaining $500,000 to develop the memorial itself.

In addition to the $500,000 from the county and $1 million from the state, the city has committed $500,000 from its $8 million open-space bond fund.

The acquisition committee is also seeking federal funds, and will undertake private fund-raising as well, Rolfes said.

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