Pritchard Park boundary dispute resolved

A boundary-line dispute between the city and the owners of Bainbridge Island Boatyard had the Japanese American Memorial in the pinch for years.

That came to an end – more or less – on Wednesday, as a settlement was agreed to by the City Council.

At issue were the rightful owners of five to six feet of right-of-way along the north end of Taylor Avenue.

The road is the physical split between city-owned property (Pritchard Park) and property owned by the boatyard’s Darrell and Vannee McNabb on the park’s western border.

Both the city and the McNabbs hold different surveys that raise questions over the proper boundary line’s official location.

“There’s always been a boundary dispute, way before I came here,” said Clarence Moriwaki, president of the memorial group.

Moriwaki said the memorial had to be redesigned due to the dispute.

“It pushed us further into a wetland,” he said. “We mitigated the effects and came out with a better design.”

The McNabbs had contended the memorial wall – now under construction, and a proposed memorial pier– would encroach on their land and prevent further development of their property.

When the McNabbs filed a lawsuit against the city in 2006, they also claimed damages related to “trespass, ejectment, nuisance, negligence and damage to their property.”

Earlier this year, McNabb erected a fence along what he believed to be the boundary line. That fence was subsequently ripped out by the city, contending it was mostly on city-owed land.

The battling sides decided to discuss the issue after Ryan Vancil, an attorney hired by the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park and Recreation District, decided there could be a settlement option based on the memorial wall’s location.

“We could draw property lines based on the location of the memorial wall,” Vancil said. “The McNabbs didn’t want to fight the memorial and we wanted to work as a broker to reach a solution.”

The park district jointly owns Pritchard Park with the city.

Overall, the creation of a new westerly boundary has surpassed expectations.

“I dreaded the initial meetings, just the concept of having six attorneys in a room,” Vancil said. “I didn’t anticipate extremely positive results, but I have to give accolades to all the attorneys involved, I don’t always get these positive stories.”

The agreement also allows for work crews to traverse contested areas to maintain a vegetative buffer between the memorial wall and the McNabb property.

“There are a number of easements that are connected with the settlement in favor of the city, which allows the memorial to proceed with construction and be able to do any necessary maintenance,” said City Attorney Paul McMurray.

McNabb could not be reached at the time of publication for comment, but his attorney, Dennis Reynolds, said the settlement was a positive outcome for all parties, and allowed his clients to develop their land.

“I am pretty happy about it,” he said. “To me it is the way the city is supposed to do business.

“We moved quickly so we wouldn’t delay the project or the memorial committee,” he said. “We wanted it resolved, wanted to work it out because they are going to be neighbors for a long time.”

The language of the settlement reserves the right for both plaintiffs and defendants to follow-up on other legal allegations stemming from the dispute.

But according to Vancil, “about 80 percent of the litigation is going to be solved by going with the plan that is in place.”

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