News Roundup -- Sex offenders: nothing new/Council backs metro parks/The two that got away/City steps up for sidewalks/School savings lower taxes

Sex offenders: nothing new

A telemarketer warning of new sex offenders on Bainbridge Island is misleading the public and selling subscriptions for information readily available for free, police say.

Bainbridge Police Detective Scott Anderson cautioned islanders to think twice before signing up with a business billing itself as, which has been contacting island residents for the past week.

Information on the company’s web site states: “There could be a sexual offender in your area! As a member, you’ll know who they are. Protect your loved ones for only $19.95.”

Consumer advocates have referred to the service as as scam, and authorities have issued a warning in several western Washington counties.

“It certainly is perceived as alarming,” Anderson said. “They of course don’t tell you that this is public information you can get for free.”

The information is already available on several government and law enforcement web sites, including and

Anderson also took issue with the service’s suggestion that the presence of registered sex offenders on Bainbridge Island is “new” information. There are perhaps a half-dozen registered individuals in the community at any time, low-level offenders not deemed likely to reoffend, he said.

Anderson described the island’s sex offenders as “a stable flock,” who “have been registered in the commmunity for some time and are all in full compliance and are behaving themselves.”

“There is no new activity with sex offenders on our island,” he said.

– Douglas Crist

Council backs metro parks

The Bainbridge Island City Council last week gave its unanimous support to a measure that would change the legal status of the Bainbridge Island Park and Recreation District.

By a 6-0 vote, with Debbie Vancil absent, the council backed a resolution supporting the “metropolitan park district” measure that will appear on the Sept. 14 ballot.

“We need to have steady funding for our park system,” Councilwoman Debbie Vann said, “and I’d be surprised if most people on Bainbridge Island don’t agree with that.”

The measure would replace the current park district with a new “metropolitan” park district entity.

The new district would also be governed by a five-person elected board; the primary distinction is that it would put an end to the two-year “excess levy” cycle.

The new district would instead collect tax revenues year to year like the fire district, capped at a 1 percent increase per year without voter approval.

The issue appears on the ballot after a citizen petition drive netted some 3,300 signatures in about eight weeks.

That followed a recommendation for the metro park switch by an ad hoc committee of park users, tax watchdogs and several islanders who voted against the last park funding levy.

Other council members echoed Vann’s support, with Nezam Tooloee saying “we get great bang for our buck for our money” with local parks.

Mail ballots for the Sept. 14 election go out the last week of this month.

– Douglas Crist

The two that got away

Public art on a local school campus was vandalized earlier this month.

Two carved cedar salmon that formed part of a sculpture at Sakai Intermediate School were reported stolen Aug. 3.

The fish were stolen fom a wooden beam suspended about 15 feet high, across the top of the wire structure enclosing a stone sculpture near the west entrance to the school.

The fish, each about 3 feet long, were discovered missing by the artist who carved them two years ago, Sakai administrative secretary Peg Chapman.

Chapman, a self-taught woodcarver from Kingston, says she has mixed feelings about the theft.

“It’s kind of flattering that they went to all that trouble to steal my fish,” she said.

Police have no suspects in the case of the missing fish.

– Dee Axelrod

City steps up for sidewalks

Construction of a new pedestrian and bicycle link at the north end of the high school campus will get under way next Monday, public works officials say.

The project will be funded by a $150,000 state grant, secured by state representative and senate candidate Phil Rockefeller (D-Bainbridge Island). A ribbon-cutting ceremony will mark the start of construction, with the time yet to be announced.

A long-time cause of Squeaky Wheels bicycle advocates, the route will link the high school and the aquatics center with New Brooklyn Road, along a utility access corridor running past the city water towers north of the campus.

The path will tie in with new sidewalks going in on New Brooklyn and Madison Avenue, giving students several safe alternatives for moving between the high school and Woodward/Sakai campuses. Overhead lighting will be added later this fall.

The project was designed by Bart Berg, a Squeaky Wheels member and local landscape architect.

In a separate action, the council OK’d an $18,000 expenditure to put a sidewalk in front of Helpline House on Knechtel Way.

– Douglas Crist

School savings lower taxes

The Bainbridge Island School District will save $269,000 from a follow-up bond escrow transaction, district officials say.

The district will pass the savings on to taxypayers through lower annual levies, officials said. The 2005 school levy will be lowered by $449,000.

The escrow restructuring relates to the district’s $21 million of tax-exempt general obligation “refunding bonds” that closed in April. Refunding bonds usually have a lower interest rate than existing bonds; the proceeds can then be used to retire the outstanding debt of a prior bond issue that was at a higher interest rate. The original refunding bonds reduced debt service payuments by more than $1.2 million over the next 12 years.

Proceeds from the refunding bond are held in an escrow account, which earns sufficient interest to pay off the original bond issue. The account was recently restructured to earn a better rate of interest and generated the additional $269,000 in savings for the district.

– Dee Axelrod

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