Strawberry pier deal close to OK

The island has moved a step closer to a new waterfront park at the head of Eagle Harbor.

The Bainbridge Island Park and Recreation District board voted Thursday to let go of its 99-year lease on John Nelson Park in Winslow, enabling the city to swap the five-acre parcel for the former Strawberry Plant property at the foot of Weaver Road.

The exchange is contingent on City Council approval.

It was brokered by the city Open Space Commission, with chair Andy Maron this week calling the exchange “fabulous.”

“It’s awesome,” Maron said Friday. “The various council members I’ve talked to are thrilled with this, as is everybody (on the commission).”

Bainbridge-based Island Senior Community LLC and principal Bill Carruthers purchased the 4.1-acre waterfront property in late August and proposed trading it for the park on Highway 305, near the former Bentryn winery.

Donated to the city 50 years ago, the park has served primarily as a public works yard.

The city recently leased the property to the park district, but board members said they would much prefer the Strawberry Plant property and its 275 feet of shoreline.

The exchange fell into place with the agreement of John Nelson’s heirs, who still maintained interest in seeing the bequest for use as public parkland honored.

Carruthers intends to develop the former winery and John Nelson properties into a senior housing complex, but has agreed to let the city retain one acre of the parcel as a public park.

“It’s a miracle we’re getting both a park at John Nelson and at the Strawberry property,” board member Dave Shorett said.

Shorett said Carruthers has indicated that he wants to develop the Nelson property as soon as possible and had requested a speedy approval process by the city and park district.

The City Council is slated to vote on the land trade at its Nov. 10 meeting at 6 p.m.

Staff writer Douglas Crist

contributed to this report.

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