Nelson property gift came with conditions

Thanks to Ray Adams and Leo Williamson for allowing us a park at the Head-of-the-Bay. Folks enjoy it. It has picnic benches and places for more than one group to sit.  There’s an historic ruin and a trailerable boat launch. There are no big logs to climb over to access their meadow. It is handicap accessible. And it was created at no public expense.

“More people enjoy that park than the $1,000,000 city-created Weaver Road-end,” I’ve heard some comment. Others ask, “Didn’t our city park come from a private land gift - with conditions? … with a name?”

It did, according to Erik “Stan” Lund, 93, a born and raised Bainbridge Islander who died a few weeks ago. (see Review obituary, July 29)

Lund was John Nelson’s next-of-kin, the same Nelson who, in his 1950 will, gave his beloved community a “Park” with a capitol “P” - for people’s “recreation, amusement and education.” It was Nelson’s five-acre gift – with conditions – that made possible a land swap in recent years to enable both a one-acre Park at his former homestead near Vineyard Lane and a four-acre Park at Strawberry Cannery Cove.

On Aug. 1 Stan’s family and friends celebrated his remarkable life. It reinforced much of what we’d learned of him. It taught some things not known here.

Only two kinds of people have to get everything right: brain surgeons and Boeing engineers. Stan got things right. He grew up on an island farm with problem-solving skills refined by engineering studies. His inquiring intellect, creativity and hard work benefited Boeing for 33 years, the town where he lived and his family for generations to come. His work bringing jet service to remote places may make him one of history’s most traveled, having logged 3,500,000 air miles.

We smiled when he said, “I retired early so my wife and I could …travel.”

I recently learned that Stan was one of the founders of his municipality at Yarrow Point. His financial study showed that incorporation was possible. He served 11 years as Planning Commission Chairman and 10 as Board of Adjustment Chairman. He created the town sign, wrote their Comprehensive Plan and Growth Management Act Impact Statement. After physically building five family homes he was hired for nine more years as town building official. He knew how city government should work.

But Lund was frustrated with the Bainbridge Island City Council. They did not even answer letters he had sent them over a four-month period concerning his disappointment with what was being made of his kin’s “John Nelson Park” gift. Shouldn’t our town leaders have been apologetic that at age 92, Stan drove here alone, navigating commuter and night traffic, to address our unresponsive Council? Was he greeted? Was he thanked? What did our Council say?

Residents continue to ask, “John Nelson Park…What? Where? When? How soon? Whose Park is it? And now, “Which one are you talking about?”

Stan’s questions continue, too.

Thanks to BITV, Kathleen Thorne, Cathy Bellefeuille, and others, you can see videos of Lund and his remembrances of Nelson here.

In it, you can see footage of him when he visited City Hall (June 9, 2010) and with former American Marine Bank president, Carl Berg, and former mayor Dwight Sutton at a public luncheon (April 25, 2010).

- Gerald Elfendahl

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