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For sale? Probably not
The city is poised to hand off the tiny TChookwap parcel
to the park district.
The tug-of-war over a little park on Port Madison was given a solid yank in the direction of public access this week.
The City Council on Wednesday directed staff to draft a resolution for the transfer of TChookwap Park to the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park and Recreation District. The council expects to vote on the transfer at its May 10 meeting.
Back in the day, the intent was to provide access to the waterfront with this park thats a fact, said Councilman Bill Knobloch, citing debates on the half-acre park on Spargur Loop Road when the city purchased it in 1992.
While the city may have intended TChookwap as a public access to views of the bay, some neighbors say the park has been neglected by the city and is seldom used by the islands residents.
The city Open Space Commission adopted this logic in its pitch to sell the park and buy other open areas elsewhere.
The commission also argued that the nearby Spargur Park, a 6-acre parcel established around the corner last year, duplicates the smaller parks purpose and comes with additional attractions including dock and beach access.
The Seattle Yacht Club, which owns a neighboring outstation, has offered to buy TChookwap as part of a redevelopment and expansion project. The club would then use the park as a buffer between the outstation and nearby residences.
But Councilman Jim Llewellyn, who proposed the city transfer TChookwap to the park district late last month, argued that there are no compelling reasons to sell the park.
The clubs expansion, which Llewellyn expects will attract more boaters to the bay, increases TChookwaps value as a public park.
A lot more boats are going to obstruct views at Spargur Park, he said. When the (clubs) expansion is done, you wont be able to see the mouth of the harbor from Spargur like you can from TChookwap.
Craig Jones, an attorney representing a Spargur Loop family favoring the parks sale, argued that some members of the council were under the false premise that TChookwap had been donated to the city and that it must remain in public use.
Llewellyn denied that councilors labored under the idea (TChookwap) was donated, while city attorney Paul McMurray stated that the propertys sale was negotiated with language alluding to its use as a passive park.
Priscilla Lavry, who sold the park to the city 14 years ago, agreed that she was given assurances that the park would remain available for public use.
I trusted the city to do what they said theyd do, she told the council. I had another buyer, but I was told my property would be a passive park if it was sold to the city.
The city purchased the park for $257,000, with a contribution of $137,000 from the Seattle Yacht Club.
Llewellyn believes TChookwap will receive better stewardship from the park district if its transfer is approved.
TChookwap could have been developed more by the city, he said. But the park district is really the entity that owns, develops and maintains parks. The city doesnt have that reputation and we have enough challenges with Waterfront Park.
Park officials have hinted theyd accept the park, but would likely not make substantial improvements to it until other high priority projects are completed.
Some councilors expressed reservations with TChookwaps transfer to the park district.
Councilman Kjell Stoknes said he struggled with (TChookwap) for months before urging the council to consider consulting with the citys Road Ends Committee for direction.
Councilwoman Debbie Vancil said a criteria for selling, transferring or trading city park land should be established before other similar proposals are initiated. But with at least four councilors supporting a vote on the parks transfer, Llewellyn is confident residents will soon see TChookwap on the park districts roster where no one will propose selling it again.