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News Roundup -- Support for park purchase/Burglar hits druggist again/Jump rope off the sidewalk

Support for park purchase

With about $1 million remaining, many residents want the bulk of Open Space Commission funds used to complete the purchase of Pritchard Park.

That was the message most residents sent to the commission during a public forum Thursday evening.

“We couldn’t possibly do better than putting that money in Pritchard Park,” said Val Tollefson of plans to add another 28 acres near Bill Point to the new Eagle Harbor park. “The (property) is unique. It has waterfront, acres of natural areas, a nascent trail system and adjacent (areas of) historical significance.”

The commission has brokered city purchase of more than 200 acres of forests, farms and waterfront properties in the three years since voters approved a $8 million bond levy to preserve island open spaces.

The commission helped the city purchase the first half of the former Wyckoff property – proposed to be called Pritchard Park – with a $500,000 contribution last year.

Various groups are working to raise $3.1 million to pay for the remaining 28 acres. Nearly $1 million is already committed to the purchase.

A portion of the property is undergoing a Environmental Protection Agency cleanup of toxic deposits leftover from a wood treatment plant.

Stay-at-home mom Jenny Lange said Pritchard Park is an excellent place for kids to play and is easy to access.

“It’s in a prominent location at Bainbridge Island’s doorstep,” she said after passing out photos of her son playing at the park. “You can take your shoes off and really dig into the sand. It’s a wide open area where you can truly feel small and explore on a grand scale.”

While most of the 35 residents in attendance cast a verbal vote for Pritchard Park, some had other ideas for the money.

Robert Weschler said portions of the $1 million should be spent on small “pocket parks” in the Winslow area.

“Let’s do the greatest good for the greatest number of people,” he said. “We need to preserve the remaining green downtown.”

Robin Purcell, of the Island Wildlife Shelter, advocated the purchase of property for animal habitat, especially areas used by nesting herons and eagles.

She also questioned the environmental safety of the remaining portion of the Wyckoff property. Staff cleaning the site have said the area sits on a “sea of creosote” and have struggled to remove the contaminants.

Regardless of where the remaining money goes, resident Ed Kushner said the commission’s work will prove vital for future generations.

“It was important to get these lands in public ownership, and now we’ve got lots of it,” he said. “I don’t think in 50 years people will think that we saved too much.”

And more could be on the way, if the public supports it. Commission member Dwight Sutton floated the idea of crafting a new levy to preserve even more land.

“Is there the sense that this is worth doing again?” he asked. “My heart is certainly in seeing us pursue this.”

– Tristan Baurick

Burglar hits druggist again

For the second time in two weeks, Vern’s Winslow Drug on Winslow Way was broken into, Bainbridge police reported.

This time, police apprehended a male suspect, who they now are trying to link to the earlier crime.

Officers were summoned to the business by a silent alarm at 12:21 a.m. Tuesday, and found the door from the back alleyway had been broken again. A witness had also called police after hearing breaking glass, and confronted a the suspect with the phone in his hand and 911 on the line, according to reports.

The suspect fled, leaving the scene in a dark-colored vehicle. The witness gave police a description of the suspect, his vehicle and route of travel. Police located the suspect, who was arrested.

The drug store was broken into through the same door two weeks earlier, when someone used a barbell to smash the glass. Narcotics valued at $2,000 were stolen in that incident.

No charges had been filed as of Friday, a police spokesman said.

– Douglas Crist

Jump rope off the sidewalk

Jump rope is not just a sidewalk pasttime for the Bainbridge Island Rope Skippers.

The troupe founded in the late 1980s is hosting an invitational rope skipping tournament today, 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Woodward Middle School.

Over 150 kids will be competing from the U.S. and Canada.

Last year, all members of the Bainbridge squad placed in the top four for their age group and qualified for Nationals.

Ali Maier, currently in ninth grade, placed in the top 10 for two events at Nationals.

This year the team of 14 girls and boys, ages 8 to 22, is aiming for Nationals held at Disney World by the United States Amateur Jump Rope Federation. The rope skippers also hope to make the Junior Olympics hosted by the Amateur Athletic Union.

The team has a large number of rookies – five out of 14 – but coach Tamera McCoskey says they are a talented bunch.

The Bainbridge team is known for its freestyle rope skipping, which will be on display during the afternoon competition.

Similar to gymnastics or ice skating, competitors must fulfill required elements, and are judged on technical difficulty.

In freestyle, there are events for singles, pairs and double dutch, where two others swing a double set of ropes for the skipper.

“The funnest part is putting together routines,” eighth-grader Lizzy Sharman said.

The morning competition will be in speed and power events, which look at how many times a skipper can jump in one and three minutes – turning their own rope – or jumping while swinging the rope two or three times under each jump.

–Tina Lieu

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