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Red, white and green in 2003

Former mayor Dwight Sutton walks the M&E tree farm – one of several properties added to city holdings in 2003 by the Open Space Commission.  - Review file photo
Former mayor Dwight Sutton walks the M&E tree farm – one of several properties added to city holdings in 2003 by the Open Space Commission.
— image credit: Review file photo

A look at the year in review.

It began with the threat of war, and promptly made good on that threat.

But 2003 left Bainbridge Islanders, who turned out en masse against the Iraq invasion, largely outside its effects once the hostilities began. Only tighter ferry security rules and the appearance of armed Coast Guard escorts served as local reminders of the conflict abroad; the flag-draped caskets, thankfully, returned to communities elsewhere.

Consciously or otherwise, islanders matched the red, white and blue with a healthy dose of green. Land preservation efforts were in full swing through the Open Space Commission; the drive to transform the old Wyckoff property into “Pritchard Park” chugged along with state, county and local agencies pledging $2.5 million toward that cause.

Turmoil at City Hall continued with the resignations of five top officials, some of whom cited ongoing friction with the current council. Voters rendered a judgment of their own in November, turning out an incumbent councilman by a wide margin.

Planning for a healthy downtown took on an unexpected but welcome immediacy. Yet other issues were decidedly less than glamorous; south-end sewers made headlines nearly every month, with the question of where to process city street sweepings and ditch spoils picking up any slack. Mercifully absent from the news was the contentious issue of shoreline regulations, although, alas, a new year dawns.

But first: a look back at the year that was.

JANUARY: The Public Arts Committee selects artists Maggie Smith and Buster Simpson to devise aesthetic treatments in the “Gateway” corridor on Winslow Way, from the highway to Ericksen Avenue.

Mayor Darlene Kordonowy and city council members vow to improve relations, after a tempestuous 2002. At the same time, a consultant undertakes an organizational study at City Hall.

Police nab a 36-year-old transient responsible for a string of residential burglaries at the south end. He is eventually sentenced to 15 years for his three-county spree.

Walt Hannon moves his Lynwood Center market across the street to the new Blossom mixed-use project.

A citizen committee is formed to find a new site for the “decanting” of city street sweepings and ditch spoils. The project has already been denounced in two neighborhoods considered as sites.

More than 500 school district employees and parents head to Olympia for a demonstration in support of public school funding. Days later, more than 400 islanders rally in the town square to protest possible war with Iraq.

FEBRUARY: On the recommendation of a citizen committee, the new Bainbridge High School gymnasium is dedicated in honor of legendary coach Tom Paski. The BHS boys basketball team punctuates the dedication ceremony with a thrilling victory over Seattle Prep.

“Pritchard Park” is endorsed as the name of a new public park planned for the Wyckoff property at Bill Point; fundraising efforts bring commitments of some $2.5 million from various state, county and local sources, toward an $8 million asking price.

The BHS wrestling and gymnastics teams earn league titles.

Police Chief Bill Cooper announces his public-sector retirement and departure for employment with Microsoft. Lt. Matt Haney is named interim chief.

Hundreds gather on the BHS grounds for a community “Portrait for Peace”; conflict ensues, as the fire department is criticized for letting the group use its ladder truck for a photographer’s platform.

Dave Lewis steps down as park district director, taking a similar job in his hometown in California.

Island voters set a new mark for support of public schools, giving a four-year levy a 78 percent “yes.”

The Coast Guard enacts a new ferry security plan, prohibiting private vessels from coming within 500 yards of a moving ferry. Armed motorized launches begin escorting the ferries across the water in some runs, warding off passing sailboats and pleasure craft.

Class of 1962 BHS graduate Elizabeth (Helbig) Grossman donates her family’s 13-acre Christmas tree farm off Lovgreen Road to the city. Within weeks, the city buys several small farms nearby, laying the groundwork for a formal “farming district” with neighboring agricultural spreads.

Team Winslow becomes the Bainbridge Island Downtown Association.

Property owners and developers blast proposed changes to the city’s subdivision code, predicting lawsuits if the provisions are enacted. A moratorium on land subdivisions continues.

MARCH: Councilman Bill Knobloch proposes an “ethics ordinance” for city employees; the proposal sparks ire around City Hall, is handed off to a citizen committee, and quietly vanishes into the realm of “process.”

Embattled city planning director Stephanie Warren agrees to leave her post in April, although she will continue to work as a consultant to the city through 2004.

The council extends a city moratorium on subdivisions, over the protests of property owners.

APRIL: Wooden walkways for pedestrians are among the treatments proposed for the Gateway district; the project is eventually stalled by concern over other aspects of the road project to which they are tied.

School officials ponder the fate of the 1948-vintage wing of the Commodore building, which leaks like a sieve and suffers other structural maladies. Formation of the new Eagle Harbor High School, to be housed in Commodore, is announced.

Councilmembers Lois Curtis and Norm Wooldridge announce that they will not seek re-election, setting off a scramble for candidates for the fall elections. Larry Frazier is named interim planning director for the city; the “interim” is eventually dropped.

A divided fire board votes to reorganize the department hierarchy, eliminating the position of executive director. That leaves Ken Guy out of a job; fire chief Jim Walkowski is elevated to head of the department.

Public works officials announce plans to go after a low-interest state loan to fund the construction of sewers in four south-end neighborhoods. Within months, the loan is landed, apparently swinging support in favor of the sewer project.

MAY: Fourteen BHS sophomores boycotted the WASL standardized tests, with one calling it “a waste of school.” School officials say the boycott will hurt the district by lowering the composite grade.

The Spartan varsity lacrosse team pounds Mercer 13-8 in Seahawks Stadium to win the state 3A title.

Park district and Babe Ruth baseball officials fete the opening of the new diamonds at Sands Field.

A 5 percent hike on ferry fares goes into effect. New cost for walk-ons to get home from Seattle: $5.40.

A citizen group recommends removal of the historic scout cabin at Camp Yeomalt, to be replaced by a new community hall. Protests by historians, and a lack of construction funds, waylay the project.

Neighbors angry over the ongoing storage of ditch spoils at a Head of the Bay site descend on the City Council. The protests bring the attention of county health officials, who order a cleanup.

The Kitsap Consolidated Housing Authority steps in to purchase the Winslow mobile home park, preserving 60 affordable housing units in the heart of town. Fire destroys a Winslow apartment unit; no one is injured. It proves to be one of the year’s few significant blazes.

The City Council passes a resolution opposing provisions of the federal USA Patriot Act.

JUNE: Grace Episcopal Church debuts a stunning new building on Day Road East.

Lynn Nordby, city administrator for the first 12 years of all-island government, announces his retirement for a private sector job. He was under fire by council members who questioned his effectiveness. A consultant’s survey of city employees find low morale and enough dissatisfaction to go around; management and council alike earned numerous “poor” or “very poor” ratings for their performance.

Longtime BHS principal Dave Ellick decamps for a principalship in Mission Viejo, Calif.

A Superior Court judge strikes down a city moratorium on the construction of docks and bulkheads. The council proceeds to sharply limit the number of future docks on Blakely Harbor.

Downtown merchants and property owners turn out to oppose the city’s plans for a stop sign at Winslow Way/Ericksen Avenue. The event spawns a new non-profit organization for downtown interests; a dramatic new planning effort ensues.

JULY: A citizen group recommends long-term redevelopment of Island Center, to create “a neighborhood feeling instead of a strip mall.” No timeline is established.

The park board taps Terry Lande of Oregon’s Willamalane Park and Recreation District as its new director.

Wing Point Golf and Country Club fetes its first 100 years with a weeklong series of golf tournaments and get-togethers.

Jockeying begins for the fall ballot for City Council and other posts; some candidates declare and then withdraw, leaving Bob Scales uncontested for a north-end seat, and incumbent Christine Rolfes unopposed in the south. Islander Lee Walton is named interim city administrator.

The Buddhist temple at Bucklin Hill gets its first full-time monk in 20 years; the Rev. Senji Kanaeda heralds from Tokyo, Japan.

Kevin Lawrence pleads guilty to fraud for the Znetix securities scam. The return on investment for spending $90 million of other people’s money: 20 years in prison.

AUGUST: A slow month. After several abortive attempts, Starbucks announces plans to open a coffee outlet inside Safeway; the lines are short. The old wing of Commodore is razed; a community bandstand finally finds a home in Winslow Green. Park officials launch a drive for impact fees to fund capital improvements.

SEPTEMBER: Political unknown Nezam Tooloee turns heads with a 65 percent primary showing in the race for a vacant council seat against environmental activist Arnie Kubiak.

After a year of deliberations, the council passes a new subdivision ordinance and lifts a moratorium on short-plats. As predicted, the city is promptly sued over the ordinance.

Islander Jay Inslee, “our man in D.C.,” announces that he will forego a second run at the governorship and instead will try to hold his 1st District congressional seat.

Attorney Kate Carruthers is named Bainbridge Island’s Citizen of the Year by the Kiwanis Club. Author David Guterson’s latest vision is manifest in “Our Lady of the Forest,” to much national fanfare.

The Sportsmen’s Club shuts down its rifle range after a stray bullet is found in the garage of a nearby home.

OCTOBER: With all the energy devoted to the races for council, little else happens. But it sure rains: more than 4 inches fall in a single 24-hour period, setting a new mark. The seven-day total of 7.24 inches doubles the October monthly average.

Despite the weather, Ericksen Avenue gets a sidewalk and bike lane. And bucking the trend toward condominiums and townhomes, Winslow sees the opening of the 37-unit Camelia Apartments.

NOVEMBER: Former council member Jim Llewellyn thumps incumbent Michael Pollock in the general election, while Tooloee breezes to a win over Kubiak. A sales tax hike to restore foot-ferry service is shot down countywide.

The Open Space Commission brokers public purchase of 64 wooded acres next Gazzam Lake, linking that park with the waters of Puget Sound. It is the centerpiece of a busy year for land preservation, with new trails and beaches also set aside.

The Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce celebrates its 76th anniversary with a gala at Wing Point.

A formal LID protest period ends with a wimper; support for the south-end sewer project is overwhelming. The results ensure formation of a Local Improvement District to fund the project in 2004.

School officials host a forum on teen drug and alcohol abuse; hundreds turn out.

Emily Silver closes out a stellar prep swimming career in grand fashion, winning two events at the state meet for the fourth consecutive year. Next stop: Cal-Berkeley.

DECEMBER: Changes to the local cable television programming lineup anger many subscribers, who pelt new provider Comcast with complaints. The company responds by cutting in half the price for its basic service.

Rebuffed elsewhere, the city decant facility is recommended for the former dump site on Vincent Road, now a recycling center and garbage transfer station.

Bowing to opposition from parents and students, school officials abandon a plan to install several outdoor security cameras to curb vandalism on the campus.

The City Council considers – briefly – the possibility of changing the city’s newspaper of record to a publication other than the Review. With public sentiment skewing to the negative, the question is punted to the next council.

Downtown property owners and merchants unveil a dramatic series of plans for transportation and utility improvements in Winslow, including two new roundabouts on Winslow Way and parking garages nearby. The presentation draws a throng to City Hall, and promises to focus even more attention on downtown in...2004.

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