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Battle Point Drive reopens -- News Roundup

Public works engineer Melva Hill surveys the restored stream bed. - RYAN SCHIERLING/Staff Photo
Public works engineer Melva Hill surveys the restored stream bed.
— image credit: RYAN SCHIERLING/Staff Photo

Island salmon got a new lease on life – and Battle Point residents saw their commuting headaches end – with the completion of construction at Issei Creek last week.

Contractor Seton Construction, which began work on the stream restoration project on Aug. 1, reopened Battle Point Drive near Miller Road on Friday, and were slated to finish installation of new guard rails yesterday – two weeks ahead of schedule, and some $20,000 under budget.

The creek, which flows through the Grand Forest and empties into Fletcher Bay, is known to have been a spawning ground and nursery for Coho salmon, cutthroat trout and other fish species.

But their migration had been hindered by the culvert installed in the 1950s – a deteriorating 24-inch pipe which rested nearly a foot off the stream bed.

Bank erosion and encroaching vegetation further restricted water flow in the stream, causing intermittent flooding in the area and preventing fish from passing upstream.

“People have seen salmon up as far as the culvert was, but (the fish) couldn’t get past it,” said Melva Hill, who oversaw the project for the city.

To fix the problems, Hill’s team replaced the existing pipe with a 60-foot metal culvert, 9 feet in diameter. It also reshaped the stream on both sides of the culvert – removing overhanging vegetation, and recarving the channel to form a flat-bottomed, sharp-sided gravel bed.

Weirs made of half-buried logs and concrete ballast now create the carefully graduated slope that salmonids prefer, and cedar “root wads” provide hiding places for aquatic life.

Instead of reinforcing the new structure with concrete, as was done in the recent restoration of a stream running under Springbrook, the Issei design is more flexible.

“We wanted something that was self-sustaining, more of a soft design,” said Stephanie Moret, city hydrologist and head of the Watershed Council. “Ultimately (the stream) will seek its natural state of equilibrium and sustain itself over time.”

Good weather, some project modifications and an efficient crew kept the project ahead of schedule, Hill said – allowing the city to further improve water flow by removing a 50-foot concrete dam just downstream of the culvert.

Replanting of the stream banks with native vegetation – some grown by local students in the Battle Point Park nursery – will take place in the next few weeks, Moret said.

– Kathryn Haines

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***Park district asks for fees

Calling them “long overdue,” the Bainbridge Island Park and Recreation District board has formally petitioned the city to impose park impact fees on new homes.

The board Thursday unanimously approved a resolution asking the Bainbridge Island City Council to approve a fee structure by the end of this year.

Park commissioner Dave Shorett said monies would not be used to purchase passive open space, but rather for the development of park facilities to meet active recreation needs.

“We have no money to keep up with growth, and no money to build on lands we already own,” Shorett said. “This fee would allow that kind of development.”

Washington state law allows local agencies to levy impact fees on new construction, to offset the putative cost of new infrastructure needed to keep up with growth.

“Junior” taxing agencies like the park district cannot impose the fees themselves; rather, an ordinance must be passed by a city or county and the funds passed through.

The Bainbridge Island School District currently charges an impact fee of $4,390, said to be about 32 percent of the cost of adding a new classroom seat to the school system.

While no specific park impact fee has been proposed, a district official said it would be tied to the same percentage as the school fee, and would probably be around $1,000 on a new home.

Last year, the city issued 138 permits for new single-family homes.

– Douglas Crist

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***Llewellyn leaves boards

City council candidate Jim Llewellyn is taking a leave from his board of director positions with the Chamber of Commerce, Bainbridge Economic Council and Bainbridge Island Broadcasting while he runs for office.

Llewellyn, facing Michael Pollock in the November general election for a southwest ward council seat, announced his plans in a news release.

“I want to avoid any suggestion of a conflict of interest,” said Llewellyn, a carpenter and former city councilman. “My goal is to focus on the issues of the election – good representation of constituents, functional, fair and even-handed city government, pursuit of a balanced approach to economic and environmental issues, and effective leadership.”

Llewellyn said he is proud of his trade and his ability make a living on the island.

“But I don’t want my affiliations with the Chamber of Commerce or other business organizations to be misrepresented during the campaign,” he said, “so I decided that the best course of action is to resign my board positions until the election is over.”

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