Island youth climbs tree in protest of Visconsi development

Chiara D
Chiara D'Angelo stages a 'tree sit' Monday about 70 feet up an evergreen tree at the site of a proposed shopping center at Highway 305 and High School Road.
— image credit: Brian Kelly | Bainbridge Island Review

One Bainbridge resident who opposes the controversial shopping development to be built at High School Road and Highway 305 has taken to the trees.

Bainbridge High School graduate Chiara D’Angelo is sitting 70 feet up on a platform roped to an evergreen tree in a protest that started early Monday morning.

Organizers of the tree sit said it's one of the 800 trees planned to be cut down for the shopping center. The tree sit — the first since in the state since 1999, organizers said — followed a candlelight vigil and demonstration against the development project Saturday night.

"A new shopping center is wholly unnecessary on Bainbridge,” said Kent Bridwell, the lead organizer behind a boycott pledge that began last month.

“Too many local businesses have already failed and there are vacant storefronts everywhere,” he said.

D’Angelo’s tree sit is designed to create more time for the community to move into action and voice their opposition to the project.

Ohio-based developer Visconsi received approval to begin clear cutting the land earlier this month.

The clearing will be the first step in building a nearly 62,000-square-foot shopping center directly across from Ace Hardware.

The development will include a Bartell Drugs, a KeyBank branch, restaurants, professional services and health care facilities.

In protest of the project, D’Angelo led 80 residents of all ages Saturday in a candlelight vigil at the site.

The demonstration continued this morning as D’Angelo picketed alongside the busy intersection before making it up a more than 70-foot-tall evergreen.

Two Bainbridge police officers were called to the scene just after 8 a.m. Monday and were helping direct traffic to ProBuild.

The Bainbridge Island Fire Department also responded, but determined D'Angelo was not in immediate danger.


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