Islanders can help pick Bainbridge's future parks

Waterfront Park - Brad Camp/ File Photo
Waterfront Park
— image credit: Brad Camp/ File Photo

Parkland committee will be taking nominations during May and June.

It could be a vacant lot in Winslow or a farm on the northend. It could even be your neighbor’s waterfront estate.

Through June 30, the citizen Parkland Acquisition Committee (PAC) will be asking islanders to nominate properties they believe should be added to the island’s inventory of parks. Guidelines for nomination are being kept purposefully expansive, with the hopes of garnering as many submissions as possible. But no one on the committee is sure how many nominations to expect.

“Based on the vegetable bin-buzz at T&C, people are really excited about this,” PAC member Frank Stowell said. “I’ve heard from four or five people who have said ‘Hey, this property would be a great park.’”

The PAC was formed by the Bainbridge Metropolitan Park and Recreation District Board after the park district successfully passed a lid-lift in 2008 to raise revenue for the purchase and development of parkland. The PAC is tasked with identifying and recommending land acquisitions to be bought using the lid-lift funds.

The committee has scheduled a public meeting for May 19 to introduce the nomination process and will soon make nomination forms available on the park district’s web site. Nominations will be accepted through June 30 and late submissions will be filed away for consideration in 2010.

This year’s lid-lift revenue is projected at $1.17 million. Of that, 75 percent – roughly $875,000 – will be used for parkland acquisition and development. The PAC will be looking for ways to leverage those funds with grant money and cooperation with other groups. It’s also not obligated to spend all the funds in one year, and money will rollover to the next.

The PAC’s nomination form will be just two pages long.

Owners will be able to nominate their own property, but anyone can nominate a piece of land, even if it’s not for sale. Park board member Lee Cross, who served on the city’s Open Space Commission, said it was useful to not limit nominations to just property owners.

“Some of the properties the Open Space Commission looked into and bought were owned by people who lived off the island and didn’t even know it was an option,” Cross said.

The nominators will supply an address and basic information about the property, along with their reasoning for why it should be a park.

With nominations in hand at the end of June, the PAC will begin a five-step process for bringing official recommendations to the park board.

It will start by weighing suggested properties against a set of six priorities it has developed after reviewing various city and park district studies and surveys. The priorities are not ranked and include creating new parks within Winslow, creating parks near city-designated commercial centers (Island Center, Lynwood Center, etc.), blazing new trail connections, adding land to existing parks outside Winslow, providing shoreline access and taking advantage of “unexpected opportunities.”

Committee members will pay visits to each of the properties then consult with the park board in executive session to determine which properties to begin negotiations on. The PAC will pursue negotiations for the property and bring final purchase recommendations to the park board in a public meeting.

The PAC’s process will be very similar to the model used by the Open Space Commission, which was tasked negotiating $8 million in public land acquisitions.

Open Space Commission member Dwight Sutton said the commission’s nomination model is a good one to follow.

“It was a relatively straightforward process and it was simple enough that it could be done with little effort,” Sutton said. “That manifested in the fact that we got over 100 nominations in the time it was open.”

The Parkland Acquisition Committee will hold a public meeting at 5:30 p.m., May 19 at the Bainbridge Commons to discuss its process for recommending new parkland and to gather input from the community.

Nomination forms will be made available on the park districts website, Deadline for nominations is June 30.

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