News Roundup -- Library board buys building/Park will get new restroom

Library board buys building

Major expansion may be years off, but the Bainbridge Island Library is making plans now.

The foundation board has purchased the property next door to the library for $1.1 million.

“We know that land is never going to be any cheaper than it is today and we’d like to stay where we are,” said Susan Bottles, immediate past president of the library board. “It’s a good central location, and we want to be there 60 years from now.”

The lot at 1100 Madison Ave. was purchased from retired ophthamologist Dr. Franklin Chu, a longtime library supporter.

An anonymous donor provided the down payment, Bottles said, and Chu reduced the price as a charitible contribution.

The leases to the current tenants – Pacific EyeCare, Bainbridge Learning Center, Farmers Insurance, and an apartment dweller – have been transferred as a condition of the sale and no changes are anticipated, Bottles said.

Because of Chu’s donation and the down payment gift, the current leases on the property will cover the mortgage and provide the library with a small monthly return, she added.

“We see this as a long-term investment for the library,” Bottles said. “This was a bargain sale for the library and an extremely important addition to our portfolio.”

For his part, Chu said he and his wife are pleased to accommodate such a worthy cause.

“Linnea and I live here on this island and we are supporters of the library and this community,” he said. “Secondly, I looked at the best use of my property for the future. The lack of parking on my property was a problem, and since the library has plenty of parking, this was a win-win situation.”

The Bainbridge Island Library operates under a public/private partnership between the Kitsap Regional Library system, which provides staffing and books, while the private Bainbridge Island Library, run by a volunteer board of directors, owns the building and grounds.

“This is a very visionary board, with a lot of courage to take advantage of this opportunity, and of course we couldn’t have done it without this very generous gift,” said librarian Cindy Harrison. “The board has looked at the needs of this community, and said we just have to make it accessible to a growing number of readers.”

– Rhonda Parks Manville

Park will get new restroom

Waterfront Park’s future restroom won’t block scenic views of Eagle Harbor nor strain sea-legged visitors wobbling ashore for relief, but it will set the city back an extra $70,000.

A divided City Council decided Wednesday to build the state-of-the art, $225,000 facility between the city dock parking lot and the tennis courts, in an area currently occupied by boats owned by Bainbridge Island Rowing.

A prefabricated building, likely containing two showers, a unisex family restroom and at least four toilets will be cut into a hillside nook below the tennis courts.

The new facility should be completed by early December in a spot about 115 feet from the park’s original restroom.

Infested with rot and insects, the old building was torn down in 2001. With much of its utility hookups still in place some councilors wanted to rebuild on the old spot to reduce construction costs.

“I can’t, with a straight face, pay $225,000 for the bathroom,” said Councilman Nezam Tooloee, who advocated shifting some of the nearly $300,000 earmarked for the restroom to other park improvements.

Others said the old site was easier to access for most park users.

“It’s a utilitarian facility,” said Councilwoman Debbie Vancil. “People want to know where the heck it is. We shouldn’t focus on hiding it.”

Councilwoman Deborah Vann also balked, saying the new site would disproportionately benefit boaters. Councilwoman Christine Rolfes disagreed, pointing out that the senior center also offers public restrooms.

“As a parent, I prefer the center,” she said. “It’s safe, clean and surrounded by seniors.”

Rolfes also opposed the old location because it obstructed views of the park and harbor.

“I remember that ugly blue building,” she said. “When it was there, it really did block the view.”

Councilman Bob Scales agreed.

“We don’t want a bathroom to be the centerpiece of Waterfront Park,” he said.

Councilman Bill Knobloch said a bathroom closer to shore and out of view from downtown costs more but will pay dividends as marina use grows.

Harbormaster Tami Allen also backed the plan, stressing that many visiting boaters and long-term liveaboards desire easy access to the facility’s showers.

Mayor Darlene Kordonowy joined Knobloch, Scales and Rolfes to break two deadlocked votes on the restroom’s location. Councilman Jim Llewellyn did not attend the meeting.

While some raised concerns about what the rowing club would do with its boats, Kordonowy pointed out that the club isn’t technically allowed to use the area.

City engineer Roger Mustain pledged to work with the club to find a new location before the city breaks ground this summer.

The council unanimously supported using a prefabricated building rather than a more expensive, distinctly designed structure. City engineer Lorenz Eber estimated the cost difference at about 40 percent.

“Having it pre-engineered is also faster,” he said. “They come in kits or on a slab dropped off by a truck.”

Eber’s design for the bathroom includes a nine-foot tall retaining wall that could be outfitted with climbing holds for children to play on. The wall would be framed by gravel or some other soft surface.

The city will host a public meeting March 7 to discuss the restroom’s design and construction.

– Tristan Baurick

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