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Pleasant new horizon for north-end park-goers

A twilight view from the shoreline at the newly acquired six-acre  park property on Hidden Cove Road at Spargur Loop. The parcel comes with a dock (foreground). - DOUGLAS CRIST/Staff Photo
A twilight view from the shoreline at the newly acquired six-acre park property on Hidden Cove Road at Spargur Loop. The parcel comes with a dock (foreground).
— image credit: DOUGLAS CRIST/Staff Photo

The city buys a six-acre parcel on the banks of Hidden Cove.

Funny what some folks carry around in their hip pocket.

For developers Ray Stevenson and Tom Dao, it was six acres of prime real estate on the banks of Port Madison, land left over from their Hidden Cove Estates subdivision across the street.

Constrained by wetlands, the parcel didn’t have much in the way of development potential, and had sat half-forgotten in the developers’ portfolio since 1989.

But earlier this year, when the city’s Open Space Commission advertised for property to create more public park lands, Stevenson and Dao decided it fit the bill.

“Truly when I heard it, I felt it was an opportunity we could not pass up,” Dao told the Bainbridge Island City Council Wednesday, moments after the council approved purchase of the picturesque waterfront parcel. “I could not think of a better use for this piece of property than to make it available to the greater community.”

The owners offered the land at a discount. The purchase price of $815,000 was a half-million less than the appraised value of $1.375 million.

The parcel rolls down from the intersection of Hidden Cove and Spargur Loop roads, flanked by woods on each side and ending at low-bank waterfront. It comes with a dock stretching out to water deep enough for good-sized sailboats.

“It’s terrific,” said Andy Maron, Open Space Commission chair. “We’re thrilled and pleased and appreciative of the generosity of the owners.”

In a split vote, the council agreed to immediately transfer the property to the park district. The lone dissenter was Councilman Jim Llewellyn, who said management of a public dock there warranted more consideration by the council.

Commission and council members briefly discussed possible improvements on the property, which could be open as a park fairly soon.

A ramshackle house on the site will be dismantled by the sellers, and a restroom is under consideration. Road access will be from Hidden Cove, with a trail from Spargur Loop.

Funds for the purchase come from the $8 million open space bond levy passed by voters four years ago. The property is the 16th acquired under the open space program since 2002.

The commission has roughly $300,000 left to spend as more properties become available, but undesirable corners of several parcels already purchased may be resold and the proceeds put back into the fund.

“We kept assuming we’d be done this year, but I don’t quite think so,” Maron said.

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