2004: Summer finally heats up

The year in review, part 2.

As the sun came out to stay and the contentious presidential election drew near, things warmed up for an otherwise sleepy island summer.


Under contract with the U.S. Navy, a Texas-based developer announces plans to rezone and redevelop the 16-home military housing project on Government Way in Winslow. Grow Avenue neighbors promptly oppose the plan, which would see a substantial increase in housing density above the 75 units for which the property is currently zoned.

A toast: After months of wrangling with the city over permits, Bainbridge Island Vineyards and Winery reopens at its new building on Day Road.

Throngs turn out for the Grand Old Fourth of July Parade, including a young “Veteran for Bush” from Bremerton who says he is mocked by the parade announcers and booed by several people in the crowd. The incident is seized upon by the regional media and talk radio; the parade’s sponsor, the Chamber of Commerce, draws rebukes, many of them obscene, from around the country. A weeks-long debate over the nature of free speech ensues.

The Sportsmen’s Club reopens, with numerous safety improvements to prevent any more stray bullets from flying into adjacent neighborhoods.

Phil Rockefeller, who is running for the Washington State Senate, secures a $150,000 grant to fund a bicycle and pedestrian corridor across the Bainbridge High School campus.

Superintendent of island schools Ken Crawford contracts peritonitis while in the hospital, resulting in a months-long recovery period that will stretch into the new school year.

One California transplant no one seems to mind finds his way to Bainbridge Island: Elray Konkel is hired as the city’s new finance director.


Saying that the July 4 holiday is getting too dangerous, Kitsap fire officials call for an advisory ballot on a countywide fireworks ban.

City officials restore a salmon stream on newly acquired land at the Head of the Bay.

The proposed high-density rezone of Navy property on Government Way is shelled by neighbors and Planning Commission members. The proposal founders and sinks.

Local Republicans open a campaign office on Ericksen Avenue, following the appearance of a Democratic bastion in Winslow Mall. Campaign signs sprout like weeds at island roadsides, with complaints of sign theft and vandalism soon following.

A young Bainbridge woman is killed in an alcohol-related crash on North Madison Avenue. Days later, a teenager is killed when the vehicle in which she and seven friends are joyriding overturns on Tolo Road. The back-to-back tragedies inspire another round of community-wide soul-searching on substance abuse by island young people.


Sources say the city is working on a deal with a local developer to swap city-owned land off the highway for the coveted “Strawberry Pier” property on Eagle Harbor. Some rumors, it turns out, are true, and the deal is consummated later in the fall.

Sixty years later, the internment of Japanese Americans from Bainbridge Island during World War II manages to open fresh wounds. Several parents go to the school board to protest lessons on the internment, saying the issue is being taught without proper historical context; school officials counter that, like slavery, the issue is not subject to reinterpretation.

Bainbridge High School WASL scores are reported to be down by 10 points, and a collective island gasp is heard – until it’s revealed that the state computed the scores incorrectly. The corrected scores show Bainbridge leading the state, and everything is okay again.

The Bainbridge Blackberry Festival is held for the first time at the restored beach at Bill Point, raising awareness of the Pritchard Park project. The salmon, provided and cooked by the Suquamish Tribe, is excellent.

The primary election brings an outpouring of support for local parks; a stop-gap funding measure passes, and islanders approve formation of a new “metropolitan” park district with stable funding.


The Bainbridge Harbor Commission backs development of a haul-out and fueling facility for recreational boats on Eagle Harbor. Discussions with Washington State Ferries over where to put it promptly drift.

Dogs with uniformed handlers herald the arrival of tougher security at the ferry terminal.

Financed with the help of anonymous investors, the city, a bank and a developer, purchase of the Islander Mobile Home Park by residents is completed. Within weeks, some city council members question the public subsidy, saying the city should have purchased the property itself.

An oil spill in south Puget Sound makes its foul way to Bainbridge shores. Dime-size deposits are found at the estuary near Lynwood Center, but major contamination is said to be unlikely.

Pat Egaas is named Bainbridge Citizen of the Year.


Election day rolls around – finally – and queues form outside the doors of island polling places well before the doors open. Bainbridge Islanders give the Kerry/Edwards ticket 74 percent support; the nation leans the other direction, and the Bush/Cheney ticket prevails for another four years.

City budgeting for 2005 gets under way, and months of lobbying by bicycle and pedestrian advocates pays off in a big way. Each budget session brings a new commitment to bike/ped project funding for 2005 – more than $1 million total. Motorists aren’t left out of the council’s largesse; spending on road maintenance is doubled to $800,000. The council also commits to righting perhaps the most pressing woe of all – the absence of restrooms in Waterfront Park.

The city gets a positive audit from the state. Surprisingly, the moon has not turned blue.

Board members of the Marge Williams Center on Winslow Way begin to contemplate the development of a second center for non-profit agencies on the island. The three-year-old Marge Center is already bursting at the seams, its tenants say.

Plans to establish an “open water marina” in Eagle Harbor draw the ire of liveaboard residents there, who say they don’t want to be corralled. Members of the city Harbor Commission counter that the plan is necessary to bring order to the harbor, and is driven by state mandates.

Saying that current rates are “artificially low,” the council moves to hike parking taxes and fees around the Winslow ferry terminal to $10 per day. Parking lot owners say their businesses are being unfairly singled out, and that commuters will be hurt.


Islanders mourn the loss of sisters Hayley and Kelsey Byrne, recent Bainbridge residents lost in an apparent murder-suicide carried out by their father in Seattle.

A new food court opens at Colman Dock in Seattle, giving hungry commuters more choices than they ever had at the ferry galley. Meanwhile, the popularity of French fries and other less-than-wholesome fare in Bainbridge school cafeterias prompts a review of food service offerings. And another proof that a community too travels on its stomach, Harbour Public House announces plans for a major expansion, prompting a public hearing. Pub patrons are thrilled, pub neighbors less so.

And after a year of comparative serenity at City Hall, Councilwoman Debbie Vann publicly complains of double-dealing by her colleagues in their selection of Debbie Vancil as next year’s chair, and says the council has been taken over by pro-development interests...

...setting the stage for 2005.

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