Land deal would link two parks

It’s been a few years since you could hike the width of Bainbridge Island without treading on the toes of one homeowner or another.

But a first-ever cross-island trail connection will be essentially complete, if a nine-parcel deal brokered by the Open Space Commission is approved by the Bainbridge City Council Tuesday.

“You can go from water to water with very little traffic,” said Connie Waddington, commission member.

The council will be asked to approve a series of property acquisitions and easement purchases north of Tolo Road.

One parcel is being donated, and another would be resold after a chunk is pared off for the trail; a buyer is already lined up.

While the path itself would need some improvement, the deal would have the immediate effect of linking the western portion of the Grand Forest off Miller Road with Battle Point Park to the northwest.

Hikers, mountain bikers and equestrians would be be the beneficiaries of a new mile-long trail wending through the forested land between the parks.

Net cost to the city for the package would be $248,000, after the one parcel is resold.

The complexity of the deal required a consultant to bring together the landowners along the route, but it was ultimately embraced by all parties.

“People have been very thoughtful and cooperative,” commission member Andy Maron said. “Neighbors talked to neighbors, and it was able to be worked out. It’s going to be a big benefit to the community.”

Most significantly, Maron and Waddington agreed, is that for the first time on Bainbridge Island, East will meet West.

That is, a hiker will be able to leave Murden Cove on one shoreline and reach the Fairy Dell Trail on the other, walking primarily on public trails and a few back roads.

Maron said a cross-island hike may be organized at some point to celebrate the connection.

The deal marks the first of several such linkages the commission has been working on.

The group is trying to broker a similar deal with various property owners in an area being called the “Lost Valley,” northwest of the head of Eagle Harbor.

That deal could provide a trail linkage from Wyatt Way to Miller Road, and possibly from Bucklin Hill north to High School Road.

The Open Space Commission was created two years ago, following overwhelming voter support for an $8 million bond for land preservation.

Since then, the city has preserved about 98 acres of forest, farmland and shoreline, with about $4.3 million of the funds spent or committed.

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