City Council accepts Strawberry Plant grants; appeal hearing concludes

Two disparate visions for Eagle Harbor's Strawberry Plant Park collided at city hall this week.

At Wednesday night's City Council meeting the council accepted $567,838 in grants to fund a large-scale shoreline restoration project at the property, over heated protests from citizens who said the project will destroy historical elements at the site and impede active use of the shoreline.

Then on Friday, closing statements were made in an appeal of the project by the citizen group Friends of Cannery Cove, led by historian Gerald Elfendahl and islander Doug Hatfield.

According to city planners, the project would remove a large portion of the existing armored shoreline to create new salt marsh and intertidal habitat. It would also allow the installation of an over-water viewing platform and man-powered boat launch. The Bainbridge Metropolitan Park and Recreation District will be developing the upland portions of the property.

Of the grants accepted by the City Council Wednesday, $252,395 will come from the Salmon Recovery Funding Board and $315,443 from the Elliott Bay Trustee Council, which draws funds from the Wyckoff Superfund settlement.

At the Wednesday meeting, several council members suggested that that acceptance of the construction grants be postponed until the appeal of the project was settled. But City Manager Mark Dombroski informed the council that the deadline for accepting the grants was July 11. If the council did not accept the money, the grant could be lost, Dombroski said, but the council could accept the money and always return it later.

The grant was approved by a 5-2 vote, with Bill Knobloch and Debbie Vancil voting against.

"The bottom line here is, this is the old way of how we get grant driven projects," Knobloch said. "I don’t want to see this happen again."

On Friday, city Hearing Examiner Margaret Klockars took final testimony and closing statements in a hearing on Strawberry Plant that began June 12, and was continued June 20.

Klockars will have the next 20 business days to decide whether to uphold the city's determination of non-significance for the project, issued in April. She will also rule on the city's application for a Shoreline Conditional Use Permit for the project.

Check back for a full story on the Strawberry Plant hearings.

– Review reporter Nat Levy contributed to this story.

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