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Mobile home park deal in flux -- News Roundup

Resident purchase of the Islander Mobile Home Park in Winslow appears to be back on, after new negotiations with developer Kelly Samson over the weekend.

Last Thursday, residents were told a deal they struck with Samson had been derailed and that the 6.4-acre Winslow property would pass to a group of overseas investors. But early this week, it appeared the wheels were snug on the rails again.

“We’re back on track,” said Samson, who has partnered with residents to buy the park from the site’s owner, Pat Alderman.

Samson withdrew the sale of the property from residents Thursday morning, citing his commitment to a group of Tahiti-based investors if residents missed a Sept. 20 payment deadline.

The announcement sent residents scrambling for a way to keep the park community intact. A series of meetings between residents, Samson, city officials and mediators culminated with an agreement this weekend to extend the payment deadline until mid-October.

“Everybody’s been pulling hard to make this happen,” said Norm Down, who has helped mediate discussions between Samson and residents. “This definitely can happen.”

The bumpy road toward preserving their homes began in May 2003, when residents invited Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority to purchase the park from Alderman. The buyout would guarantee inexpensive housing amid Winslow’s prime real estate.

But in March, KCCHA announced it would have to begin redevelopment of the park in five years, not 10 as residents hoped. Fearing the loss of equity in their mobile homes, residents proposed forming a cooperative to purchase the park with Samson’s help.

Samson assumed the purchase option on the entire $5.5 million property. He proposed purchasing one-fifth of the property to reduce costs for residents and to allow residents to raise funds to purchase the majority of the property for 50 homes by Sept. 20.

Samson said he brought in the investors as backup in case residents failed to purchase their share of the property.

“I made it clear from the beginning that I had to have a plan B,” he told the Review last week. “I’m a man of my word. I’m doing what I said I was going to do.”

As of the deadline, residents were awaiting a delayed appraisal for a bank loan valued at about $3 million. Residents had already gathered about $500,000 of their own money and a number of other loans. Residents said their loan was favorably appraised by the bank two days after the deadline but still needed finalization.

Samson said the investor group initially opted not to grant the residents a deadline extension, even after residents offered $84,000 to buy some more time.

Sources involved in the negotiations have speculated the property is worth over $7 million, which could mean high profits should investors sell the property acquired for only $5.5 million.

Samson declined to say why investors agreed this weekend to grant an extension.

Down said residents are closer to meeting purchase requirements than they were last week, but must plow through paperwork, including forms for loans and cooperative memberships.

“We’re done worrying about money,” he said. “Now we’re worrying about time.”

– Tristan Baurick

Island benefit for mission

When Seattle’s Compass Center mission was damaged in the 2001 earthquake, it put out more than a building.

“It took out an entire village,” said Pastor Marty Dasler of the Bethany Lutheran Church, referring to the thousands of homeless people the Compass Center serviced.

Helping the Compass Center in its renovation is a benefit dinner sponsored by the Bethany Lutheran church this Sunday at 6 p.m. Islander Steve Rhoades, who was homeless for 15 years but today does bicycle coaching full-time, will speak of his experiences at the dinner.

The Compass Center provides numerous services for homeless people: a hygiene center to shower and wash clothes, transitional housing, a veterans’ center, a women’s shelter, banking, a mailing address and spiritual comfort.

The center is in the middle of a large capital campaign to renovate the 22,000-square-foot site. The benefit dinner is raising money for the center to build a chapel, not covered by grant money.

Tickets for dinner and talk are $30 each. Donations for the Compass Center are accepted above the cost of dinner, and can be made out to the Bethany Lutheran Church or the Compass Center to help build a chapel for the center. Reservations required; call 842-4241.

– Tina Lieu

Endowment gives grants

The board of the Bainbridge Island Community Endowment this week announced grants to several nonprofit agencies and projects.

Receiving endowment funds are the Japanese American Internment Memorial Fund ($3,000); Pritchard Park ($1,000); Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council ($30,000); IslandWood ($50,000); and Clear Path International ($42,500).

In addition, $36,000 was granted back to the Bainbridge Island Progressive Animal Welfare Society for operating expenses.

Endowment board members also announced that the Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council has chosen the Endowment to administer two funds – the “Amy Award for Emerging Artists” fund and the “Island Treasure Award” fund.

The mission of the Bainbridge Island Community Endowment is to enhance the quality of life on the island by building a permanent fund to receive donations from community-minded individuals and to make grants to support nonprofit organizations providing social, educational, and artistic benefits to the community.

Donors or professional advisors interested in making unrestricted donations or in establishing donor-advised funds can call Steve Davis at 842-6378, or email smclaind@aol.com.

New trail to be dedicated

A new and improved trail leading from Gazzam Lake Preserve down to the Port Orchard Narrows shoreline will be feted in a dedication ceremony at 12 p.m. Oct. 2.

The event will formally kick off private fund-raising for the so-called Close Property across which the trail runs.

The 64-acre property, which abuts Gazzam Lake on the northwest corner, was purchased earlier this year by the Bainbridge Island Land Trust in conjunction with the city Open Space Commission.

Another $1.25 million is needed to complete the purchase.

Tours of the property and the trail down to the shoreline will follow the ceremony. The trail has been newly improved to make it easier to traverse.

Visitors are asked to carpool to the Marshall Road entrance, or take vanpools from Strawberry Hill Park. Information: 842-1216.

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