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Parks agree to metro try -- News Roundup

Parks agree to metro try

Bainbridge park officials this week endorsed a proposed change to metropolitan park district status.

The change – which park board members hope to see go before voters in September – would dissolve the present district and transfer park holdings to a new district entity with a stable funding base. All five members of the present park board would stand for re-election at the same time.

If approved by voters, the move would take the district off the highly unpopular, two-year “rollercoaster” property tax funding cycle, park officials say.

“I think it would be great for the community to have stable funding for the Park and Recreation District, so you’re not spending money on an election every 15 months,” said Terry Lande, park director.

Park commissioners have debated their options since the failure last month of a $5.7 million levy that would have funded park operations for the next two years. Without a successful levy by year’s end, the park gates and pool doors will close in 2005.

But instead of trying another levy of two years – the term set by state statute – an ad hoc committee recommended switching to “metropolitan” park status, an idea board members endorsed at Thursday’s meeting.

As a metropolitan entity, the district would enjoy year-to-year funding like the fire district now enjoys, only going back to voters for periodic “lid lifts” when more funds were needed. Property tax funding would increase by 1 percent each year, and the district would also have limited bonding authority to pay for capital projects.

Because the park board cannot itself put the metropolitan switch before voters, it must get their by the initiative process; citizen proponents are expected to launch a petition drive seeking 3,000 signatures by July.

The issue would then go on the September ballot, leaving the district time to put another levy on the November ballot if the metropolitan funding measure fails.

Lande said the petition drive would itself be a good way to promote the metropolitan park issue.

“It starts the information campaign as you get people to sign,” he said. “If you get 3,000 people to sign, you’re also building your ‘yes’ vote.”

– Douglas Crist

Memorial, park event Tuesday

Islanders will gather March 30 to commemorate the 62nd anniversary of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, and launch a drive to raise funds for a memorial and park on the south side of Eagle Harbor.

Friends of Pritchard Park, the World War II Nikkei Internment and Exclusion Committee and the Bainbridge Island Land Trust are co-sponsors of the Tuesday morning ceremony at the Taylor Avenue road end, former site of the Eagledale ferry dock. There, 227 Bainbridge Islanders became the first Americans of Japanese descent to be sent to internment camps in California during the early months of the war.

The event also kicks off a campaign by Friends of Pritchard Park to raise $5.5 million in private donations to protect the 50 acres adjacent to Taylor Avenue, which a coalition of community and conservation groups hope to turn into Joel Pritchard Park.

Plans call for the main memorial structure to be built on the road end, with parking, a visitor’s center and garden to be built on the western section of the Wyckoff site.

The remainder would become a new waterfront park named after the late Joel Pritchard, who represented Bainbridge Island in Congress for several years before returning to the state capitol as lieutenant governor.

Tuesday’s commemorative program begins at 10:40 a.m. at the Taylor Avenue road end, to be followed by a ground-breaking ceremony for the memorial at 11:03 a.m. – the moment 62 years earlier when the ferry carrying the internees pulled away from the dock.

Tours of the accessible portions of the Wyckoff property will be run from 11:15 a.m. to noon.

Guest speakers include Ralph Munro, former Secretary of State for Washington; Frank Kitamoto, president of the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community and one of the 227 internees from the island; and Frank Pritchard, son of the late Joel Pritchard.

Information: www.pritchardpark.org.

Winslow plan takes new turn

Mayor Darlene Kordonowy will present the city’s strategy for planning the future of the downtown Winslow core, at a special City Council workshop March 30.

The presentation, “Winslow Tomorrow,” begins at 7:30 p.m. at City Hall. It will follow presentations by the Kitsap County Economic Development Council and Bainbridge Economic Council, which will begin at 6 p.m.

The goal is to develop a common vision for Winslow Way. Information: 842-2545, or ccurrie@ci.bainbridge-isl.wa.us.

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