Island’s no. 1 eyesore gets a new manager

This is no surprise, of course, but here’s the latest on what is going to be done with the old Unocal property at the corner of Winslow Way and Olympic Drive, you know, that eyesore that serves as the gateway to Bainbridge Island: Nothing is going to be done anytime soon. Maybe never, since the lot has been empty since the oil company eradicated its gas station in the early 1990s.

Meanwhile, the dilapidated fence that serves as a barrier to the polluted property will continue to be islanders’ favorite community bulletin board, severing as our central kiosk for banners, murals and other art projects, not to mention flyers and posters.

While the property — now co-owned by the city and Kitsap Transit — remains in limbo, there is a new “bulletin board monitor” of the so-called “ferry fence.” After 10 years of such duties, the Bainbridge Island Arts & Humanities Council is now happily turning watchdog responsibilities over to the island Chamber of Commerce, which conveniently is located just across the street. Perfect.

Unfortunately, some people (you know who you are) have been abusing the protocol on what can be posted and for how long it can remain there. Some notices could be considered crass and with little creative value, looking downright tacky when compared to the lovely murals that two Bainbridge High girls recently painted and installed on the fence. And even worse, some of the ugliest posters stayed plastered on the fence for the longest time. Disgusting.

Anyway, here are some of the new rules, according to Chamber Executive Director Kevin Dwyer, who some people have referred to as the Mayor of Winslow Way (he laughs). Here goes: Register with the Chamber prior to install your message; usage is limited to island-based nonprofit organizations; usage is restricted to two weeks prior to an event or deadline, then must be promptly removed; banners should be no more than 12 feet long and 3 feet wide; attach with conventional zip ties; don’t cover any part of the murals with a banner; comply with all rules or it will be removed.

All joking aside, you have to credit the BIAHC and now the Chamber with attempting to use a space that basically has been abandoned by the city. At least the two organizations are making an effort to cover up an open space that is an embarrassment to an island city that considers itself one of the gems of Puget Sound.

The city had hoped to have the lot become a small park as part of the Winslow Tomorrow and Streetscape projects, but finances have scuttled that plan, like many others. A park is still a possibility sometime in the future, but not until after the street is widened ( probably into a turn lane and/or bike lane).

It’s likely that the land still some pollution lurking down there somewhere, but it isn’t considered to be in high concentrations at this point. However, it’s doubtful the Department of Ecology would allow any deep construction digging on the property. But something like a park and a kiosk, which essentially would serve as a cap, would probably pass DOE’s inspection.

Meanwhile, back to the fence, which certainly is more interesting than the pile of rubble that it surrounds.

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