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Park drive nears finish -- News Roundup

A petition drive to put a change in local park funding before island voters wraps up this weekend.

The drive has reaped 2,600 signatures, probably sufficient to put the issue on the September ballot, but still short of the goal of 3,000, organizer John Grinter said.

“It should be enough, but we’re not taking any chances,” he said. “It’s a very positive response from the community, very positive.”

A volunteer corps of about 30 islanders has been circulating the petitions in the community, and the sheets have been on the counters of several dozen business around town.

Should enough signatures be gathered, a ballot measure to change the Bainbridge Island Park and Recreation District to a “metropolitan” park district will go before voters in September.

The change would give the district a stable, year-to-year tax collection like the fire district now enjoys, subject to a 1 percent property tax hike limitation.

Park commissioners opted to try the metro park switch after a two-year operations levy failed in February. The move has been endorsed by a citizen committee of levy backers and opponents.

Commissioners have hoped the petition drive would serve to educate voters on the issue even as it pushed the measure onto the ballot, a strategy that Grinter said is paying off.

“We’ve been educating people, and the feedback has been overwhelmingly in favor of changing (park funding) to a more stable system,” he said.

“They don’t like having to be asked every two years just for basic funding.”

Petitions must be turned in to the county auditor’s office by June 15 for certification.

Anyone still hoping to sign can go to Blackbird Bakery, Custom Printing, the Chandlery, local art galleries, or either island bicycle shop, among other businesses, Grinter said. Signature-gatherers are asked to turn in their remaining sheets, partially filled or full, no later than Friday.

“It’s been a lot of hard work,” Grinter said. “A lot of people really stepped up to get this thing done.”

– Douglas Crist

Burglars hit two businesses

Two businesses in the Village shopping center were broken into Sunday night, police say.

Outside door locks were defeated to gain entry to Pizza Factory and Books, Bagels and Beans, Bainbridge Police Detective Scott Anderson said.

The means of entry was similar to a break-in two weeks ago at Wing Point Golf and Country Club, leading police to believe that the same person is responsible.

An unspecified amount of cash was taken from the till of each business, and also a fair amount of change from one store.

“If somebody knows someone who’s suddenly flush with quarters, we’d love to hear about that,” Anderson said.

He urged merchants to contact police for advice on how to better secure their premises.

– Douglas Crist

Library to get more parking

The Bainbridge Library is about to expand – parking-wise, at least.

Earthmovers are in action this week in a vacant lot immediately south of the library on Madison Avenue, on a new 25-space parking area for library patrons. The property was purchased for that purpose several years ago, library director Cindy Harrison said.

“What we had been finding was that with increasing use of the library and people coming to meetings, ‘regular’ people were having trouble finding a place to park,” Harrison said.

The project is being funded “by our kind donors in the community who support our building and grounds,” Harrison said. “Bainbridge Island citizens own this library.”

– Douglas Crist

Kitsap’s bench on the ballot

While this is a big election year, with choices made for president, senator, governor, congressman and two county commissioners, there is also the potential for a wholesale change on the Kitsap County Superior Court, as all seven members of the bench are running for re-election.

Those seeking new terms are Anna M. Laurie, Leonard W. Costello, Leila Mills, M. Karlynn Haberley, Russell W. Hartman, Jay B. Roof and islander Ted Spearman.

There are only two qualifications for potential opponents: membership in the Washington State Bar, and a declaration of intention to run by 4:30 p.m. Friday, July 30.

Should opposition emerge, the Kitsap Bar Association, in conjunction with the League of Women Voters, will likely schedule a public forum featuring all judges.

If there is no opposition, voters have the choice of choosing a specific judge or abstaining.

Superior Court director of administration Frank Maiocco recommends that voters learn about the judicial candidates by observing them in court or at public functions.

“When you see a judge in public you get a feeling about how they act as real people,” Maiocco said.

Added Judge Spearman, “When you see judges in action, you get a sense of how they handle the responsibilities of the job.”

Ron Anderson, vice president of the Kitsap Bar Association, said the best way to research a judge’s reputation is by polling lawyers, who are presumably plugged into the court system.

Kitsap County is still small enough that voters can meet or call a judge to ask them any relevant questions; be aware, however, that judges aren’t allowed to express personal opinions about topics on which they may rule.

– Charlie Bermant

Talk housing, farms, roads

The Bainbridge Island City Council will hold a special meeting on affordable housing, 6-9 p.m. June 16 in the City Hall council chambers.

The Affordable Housing Task Force will make a presentation to the council on island housing issues. The presentation has been rescheduled from last month, when an announced meeting was cancelled because several council members could not attend.

On June 30, the council holds another workshop to discuss farming issues, and to receive presentations from the Kitsap Public Utility District and Public Works Director Randy Witt, Bob Gedney and Lee Jones on roads.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. with a discussion on farming, followed at 7:30 p.m. by KPUD and at 8:15 p.m. by the roads discussion. Information: www.ci.bainbridge-isl.wa.us.

KHC helps home buyers

Kitsap Housing Coalition will sponsor a series of classes for first-time home buyers in July and August.

The Kitsap Housing Coalition, KHC, is a non-profit organization of lenders, realtors, title/escrow companies, home inspectors, government agencies and nonprofits dedicated to helping first-time home buyers find affordable housing in Kitsap County.

KHC sessions meet the requirements of lenders and government agencies which require a class as part of getting loans approved.

First-time home buyers can also talk to experts at the “Finding Your Way Home Affordable and Fair Housing Home Buyer Fair,” June 12 at the Kitsap Mall Center Court in Silverdale. Information, class schedule: www.kccha.org, or Laura Paton, Home Buyer Education Coordinator, (360) 535-6153 or patonl@kccha.org.

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