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Tiny park may get reprieve
TChookwap should not be sold, a council committee says.
As neighbors haggle over the future of a little park on Port Madison Bay, a City Council committee has cast its vote in favor of keeping the park.
I think TChookwap Park is still a viable park that is enjoyed by enough people to keep in perpetuity, said Councilman Jim Llewellyn, who chairs the Land Use Committee.
Llewellyn will present his committees recommendation at tonights council meeting, which starts at 7 p.m. A motion to transfer the property to the park district will likely occur in two weeks, he said.
Some neighbors of the 1-acre TChookwap Park say the parcel has long been neglected by the city and is seldom used by residents. They and members of the citys Open Space Commission are urging the city to sell the property and use the money for a grander park somewhere else.
The Seattle Yacht Club, which owns property bordering the park, plans to expand and has hinted it would buy the parcel.
Others, however, say TChookwap Park is a community asset and a buffer against encroaching development.
Its got a terrific view and, of course, the areas getting quite a bit more development, said Llewellyn. It (preserves) access to the water.
Councilman Bill Knobloch said discussions have revealed a divide over what to do with the park. In his mind, TChookwap should remain as it is.
I said, Thats enough, he said. Its public access. Its for public use, as it was originally intended by its owner.
The property was purchased from Priscilla Lavry in 1992 for $257,000, with a contribution of $137,000 from the Seattle Yacht Club. Lavry stipulated that the property should remain a park and has reminded the city of its intended use at numerous recent city meetings.
But members of the Open Space Commission believe Spargur Park, also on Port Madison Bays south shore, serves the same purpose as TChookwap, and does a better job of it.
In my view, we now have the Spargur property next door, which has good access to the water and makes (TChookwap) less necessary, said commission member Andy Maron.
TChookwap is cut off from direct water access by a steep bluff, making access to the beach dangerous.
But Llewellyn believes transferring the property to the park district could mean future improvements, such as a stairwell to the beach, a dock and parking areas off Sparger Loop.
After languishing for years, Maron is doubtful residents would see significant improvements in the near future.
I think the property ought to be a park, but its not a park, he said. Its been abandoned and ignored for 15 years.
Terry Lande, director of the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park & Recreation District, said hed welcome the parks transfer, but would likely put it on a long list of properties to improve and goals to achieve.
If it was transferred to the park district, wed treat it like a park and manage it like a park, he said.
As for developing it, wed put it on a three-, five- or 10-year plan. Itd have to compete with a lot of other things going on.
Lande echoed Marons observation that Spargur Park mimics many of TChookwaps intended uses only a block away.
That may mean TChookwap would take a lower priority for development, he said.
Wed keep it safe, clean and green, he said. Doing a dock and stairs isnt cheap and it does seem to have a duplicate use.