Pritchard Park over the top

Contributions from the sale of a historic home completes the $3.25 million drive.

A contribution that followed the sale of a historic island home this week was enough to secure public purchase of the Pritchard Park property.

Former park commissioner Dane Spencer and his wife Gail, with Winslow’s Johannson Clark Real Estate office, jointly contributed $5,700 toward the $3.25 million fund drive to purchase the remaining 28 acres of the former cresote plant property at Bill Point.

Their donation completes the fund-raising effort, with formal public purchase of the land to close within a few months, said Sallie Maron of the Bainbridge Island Land Trust.

“It’s very exciting for the Land Trust, and also for the community,” Maron said. “It’s an incredible community gathering place.”

A coalition of local officials and community volunteers has worked for several years to raise funds to buy the 50-acre former log treatment plant property at the mouth of Eagle Harbor for use as a public park.

The property has been held by an environmental trust during its cleanup under the federal Superfund program.

Roughly half the property – a scenic, sandy beach at the foot of Taylor Avenue – was purchased earlier this year.

That left a balance due of $3.25 million for the remaining acreage, toward which federal and state sources allocated $2.85 million. As private donations came in, volunteers also solicited help from the island business community.

Johannson Clark Real Estate responded in spring 2004, agreeing to donate $100 from every completed home sale toward the Pritchard Park cause.

Owner/broker Craig Clark said it gave the agency a chance to address the shortage of public waterfront around the island.

“Here, for getting involved, we could have some very tangible benefit – here’s some beachfront,” Clark said.

The agency completed “a bunch” of home sales over the past year, and made regular contributions to the park cause.

“Our hearts warmed every time one of those checks came in,” Maron said.

Spencer and his wife, who are relocating to Savannah, Ga., to be closer to her parents, took the effort a step further.

Looking to sell the historic, 1893-era Munro home on Crystal Springs, which they have owned since 1997, they enlisted Johannson Clark and agreed with that agency to give a fixed percentage of the final sale price to the park cause. That turned out to be $5,700, enough to push the drive over the top.

Spencer, a longtime open space advocate, likened the sale’s timing to an odometer that happened to turn over at the right moment.

Maron said that the purchase of about 7 acres south of Eagle Harbor will close at the end October, and the balance – including the point that juts out at the harbor’s mouth – will close in January. While an environmental cleanup on that portion of the property persists, the sandy beach is already open.

Sarah Sydor, a Johansson Clark agent and south-end resident, confessed a bit of self-interest her firm’s contributions.

“It’s kind of self-serving for me – I love that beach,” said Sydor, who goes there with her family. “It’s kind of a hidden gem.”

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