Opinion

Islanders united by their land preservation efforts | Our Opinion } Sept. 9

Bainbridge Island isn’t immune to division concerning important issues, though the split here often involves local challenges as compared to the divisive politics now being played out on state, regional and national levels. But islanders are perhaps more connected than many communities,  especially when it comes to preserving the island’s more forested areas.

So it’s not surprising that the community has made it clear through financial support that it wants the 31-acre Hilltop property placed in the hands of the Bainbridge Island Land Trust.

The nonprofit trust had until Sept. 9 to exercise its early option to purchase the relatively undeveloped property located between the east and west sections of the Grand Forest over a five-year period. In response to the early fundraising success, the Land Trust’s board of directors recently voted to exercise the early option before it expired today.

Less than nine months after an effort to raise $3.6 million in donations, pledges and grants started, nearly $2.3 million has already been secured. About $1 million from local and state grants, including those secured by the island’s Park District, which eventually will be stewards of the property.

But the community has been the driving force, including direct support of more than 160 island households so far. That confirmation of the Land Trust’s goal includes an anonymous $100,000 “challenge grant” offered by a local family in an effort to encourage contributions.

And why not? Purchase of the Hilltop land will connect 540 acres of parks, public trails and already permanently protected conservation lands in the middle of the island. It will ensure that an invaluable piece of the rock will never be developed.

There was time when the island’s development seemed to be occurring unchecked, but the community has taken an encouraging turn toward preserving its more pristine lands in perpetuity.

So it’s not surprising that the community has made it clear through financial support that it wants the 31-acre Hilltop property placed in the hands of the Bainbridge Island Land Trust.

The nonprofit trust had until Sept. 9 to exercise its early option to purchase the relatively undeveloped property located between the east and west sections of the Grand Forest over a five-year period. In response to the early fundraising success, the Land Trust’s board of directors recently voted to exercise the early option before it expired today.

Less than nine months after an effort to raise $3.6 million in donations, pledges and grants started, nearly $2.3 million has already been secured. About $1 million from local and state grants, including those secured by the island’s Park District, which eventually will be stewards of the property.

But the community has been the driving force, including direct support of more than 160 island households so far. That confirmation of the Land Trust’s goal includes an anonymous $100,000 “challenge grant” offered by a local family in an effort to encourage contributions.

And why not? Purchase of the Hilltop land will connect 540 acres of parks, public trails and already permanently protected conservation lands in the middle of the island. It will ensure that an invaluable piece of the rock will never be developed.

There was time when the island’s development seemed to be occurring unchecked, but the community has taken an encouraging turn toward preserving its more pristine lands in perpetuity.

Community Events, April 2014

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