Opinion

Finally, a good reason not to kill your TV

We can think of many reasons to dislike

cable television.

Cost comes to mind. Then there’s programming. And, of course, the tendency of the medium itself to root rumps to sofas, causing good limbs to atrophy and numbing otherwise curious minds into stupor and inertia.

Other than that, cable’s great. And as reported earlier this week, islanders have cause to actually celebrate the buyout of the local cable franchise by mega-provider AT&T.

Company officials have announced that a 10-acre High School Road property, site of the former Northland Cable office, will be leased to the Bainbridge Island Park and Recreation District for the next decade at a nominal cost. Proceeds from a timber harvest there will help pay for ball field construction – on the property itself, should park officials so choose. And if AT&T decides to part with the property for good, the Bainbridge Island School District will be given first right of refusal for a new school site.

Making allowance that 10 acres and a radio shack on quiet little Bainbridge Island probably accounts for about 0.000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001 percent (maybe less) of AT&T’s corporate holdings – and the fact that they didn’t just deed over the land outright – we still think this is a fine move by an outfit hoping to do business in our community, one that goes beyond mere gesture. Those humble 10 acres have island-wide implications. Consider:

l Gazzam Lake. Back in 1994 when the Gazzam Lake bond levy was approved, some $800,000 was earmarked for ball field construction. Since then, youth sports advocates have continued to ask: “Well? Where are our fields?” The funds, of course, have gone to build ball facilities elsewhere, including the splendid new Sands Avenue fields. Yet $400,000 remains unspent, and putting a field or two on the AT&T land next to Strawberry Hill Park seems an obvious move. Looking at what the park district got for $300,000 on Sands – a Babe Ruth baseball diamond and full-size soccer pitch – the contentious Gazzam question could be settled once and for all.

l Grand Forest. A year or two back, Mandus Olson Road residents were irked by the appearance of signs reading “Future School Site” on land they had assumed was part of the Grand Forest. But true enough, the property had been purchased earlier by the school district and was never part of the park. Now, with the option to buy the AT&T land, the district could find itself with two large parcels – High School Road, and Sands south of the ball fields – for new schools, relieving the pressure to someday carve into the Mandus-area forest.

l High-speed telecom: Also as reported, AT&T has granted use of the former Northland building to Bainbridge Island Broadcasting, giving that group much-improved studio and office space. The building might also prove a logical location for equipment needed by the Kitsap Public Utility District, to support the fiberoptic communications “backbone” KPUD is bringing to Bainbridge. The facility could become a telecommunications hub of sorts, bringing together cable and ultra-high-speed Internet access, as well as local programming.

We may be getting ahead of ourselves. At the same time, the chance to get kids onto park grounds and play fields, perhaps someday into new classroom seats, seems only a question of coordination between our park and school officials.

So, thank you, AT&T. And to be perfectly fair, we write this with the television on in the background, tuned to a channel at the upper end of the dial.

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