Pritchard Park tops state list for $500k in funding

The half-million dollars here, million dollars there is beginning to add up to a new waterfront park on the south shore of Eagle Harbor.

On Thursday, word came down from Olympia that Bainbridge Island’s Pritchard Park project is ranked number one statewide for an outdoor recreation grant, and stands to receive the maximum amount of $500,000 in 2004.

“The money has been appropriated and is already there, so we know it will come,” said lobbyist and island resident Mike Ryherd, who is donating his services to work on the park project. “It’s just a matter of the paperwork.”

The newest grant brings to $2.5 million the amount committed by state, county and city funding sources – more than half of the $4.6 million needed by the end of 2004 to acquire some 18 acres of waterfront land south of Eagle Harbor Drive and east of Taylor Avenue.

The state money comes from a $45 million biennial appropriation administered by the Inter-Agency Commission for Outdoor Recreation through a variety of programs.

The application, made to a fund for local park acquisition, was made Aug. 6 in Olympia by Bainbridge Island Park and Recreation District planner Perry Barrett and Frank Stowell of the Bainbridge Island Land Trust.

The Bainbridge application received a score far higher than any of the competitors.

“Perry did such a fantastic job of presenting it that he leapfrogged over heavyweights like Seattle, Renton, Vancouver and Skagit County that are always at the top of the list,” Ryherd said.

“The project sells itself, but Perry put it all together.”

Barrett said there are advantages to presenting an application during the second year of a biennial budget cycle.

“There is less money available, but there are fewer programs competing and a little more certitude because you know the money is there,” Barrett said.

The scoring was done by a technical committee. Its recommendations will go to the full IAC board at an early September meeting in Spokane, and while the board can alter the list, “we ranked so far above everybody else I can’t see them making that much of an adjustment,” Ryherd said.

The panel’s list will then go to Gov. Locke, who will incorporate it into his supplemental capital budget request to the Legislature.

“The Legislature may take a program off the list, but it can’t add anything, which means you won’t see special pork-barrel projects added in,” Ryherd said.

The grant comes on top of an earlier state appropriation of $1.5 million for the Japanese-American memorial to be built at the Taylor Avenue road end, immediately to the west of the Pritchard Park site. Of that sum, $1 million has been earmarked for land acquisition.

Kitsap County has committed $500,000, and the city’s open-space commission has pledged $500,000, bringing the total committed funds to $2.5 million.

Still outstanding is an application for federal acquisition funds.

Kent Whitehead, of the Seattle office of the Trust for Public Lands, said that a U.S. House of Representatives committee has approved a draft budget earmarking $300,000 for the project. Its Senate counterpart will meet in September. TPL has asked for $2 million.

“We’re pleased that the House included the project, but were hoping for a larger amount,” he said. “Now is the time for the community to be in touch with senators (Patty) Murray and (Maria) Cantwell to express support for a larger amount in the Senate bill.”

The objective is to acquire 50 acres on Eagle Harbor formerly owned by the now-defunct Wyckoff Company, which used the site to treat wood with creosote.

Spillage over the years contaminated the land and adjoining seabed with sludge from the operation. The area is currently being cleaned up by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The land is owned by a court-appointed trust for the benefit of EPA. The trust has agreed to sell the land for $8 million in phases.

The first phase, costing $4.6 million, is the westerly portion of the property, where cleanup is complete.

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