Old resources, new uses at Battle Point

Terry Lande asked around to find out which island park he should see, which one he really had to get to know first. Coming up from Oregon to interview for the job of Bainbridge parks director, he’d already visited a few sites. But he wanted to know which park was “the gem.”

Everyone, he says, agreed: Battle Point Park.

So in he went through the front gate – to be greeted on his left by a maintenance shack, and on his right by the blighted transmitter building, run down through years of neglect by the district and abuse by the public at large.

That set him to thinking about possibilities, and as reported on today’s front page, he’s wasting no time sharing his ideas – and not just for those buildings. Lande has also met with youth soccer groups about finding new field space; his first notion is to maximize what’s already available. Lande hopes to bring Battle Point’s two unpopular soccer “fields” – dismal patches

of sand and dirt better suited for beach volleyball – up to snuff with actual grass.

Whether he can pull all this off within the strictures of the district’s perennially tight budget is another matter; funds for capital needs have never really been flowing out Strawberry Hill way. Indeed, neglect of the transmitter building can be largely traced to fear of costs – the conventional wisdom has always been that a thorough rehabilitation would run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

But a fresh set of eyes is unconstrained by the conventional wisdom, and that’s what Lande brings into play. Find what money there is, he argues, and let’s do what we can.

His first stop – Battle Point Park – poses an interesting

challenge. The 90-acre facility is the nexus of growing tension between organized user groups who want more “active”

facilities there (the latest proposal is for a fenced, off-leash dog run), and random users who guard very jealously the sanctity and serenity of its wide-open spaces, particularly the north 45 acres. There’s even been talk of revisiting the park’s 30-year-old master plan, to more clearly delineate what future uses might be appropriate, and where.

Count us among those who want to see the park’s passive end stay passive...but that’s the stuff of a future commentary. For now, let’s turn our eyes to the historic transmitter building. It’s finally getting some attention, and it’s neat to see.

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