Opinion

Pritchard Park project turns corner

“Plainly, maximum benefits flow from public ownership and use, not from private development of another handful of homes... The only question is whether the benefits will go to many, or to only a few. We urge our delegation to side with the many, and to act.”

So we wrote on this page some 30 months ago (has it really been that long?), urging our folks in Washington, D.C. to lend their clout to public acquisition of the Wyckoff/ Pacific Sound Resources property undergoing a federal Superfund cleanup on Bill Point. It was June 2001; our comments coincided with a citizen committee’s dramatic proposal that all of the Wyckoff land – not just the waterfront, not just the uplands, but all of it – should move next into the care of the community around it.

So much has happened since that time. A National Park Service delegation has visited the island, giving momentum to hopes for a memorial to the Japanese American internment; the vision has broadened further to honor an excellent statesman, the late Joel Pritchard; funds have been committed by state, county and local government sources. And, as reported in this issue, a $2 million federal appropriation for park acquisition has cleared the U.S. House and Senate; comfortably wrapped in an omnibus appropriations bill, it awaits only the president’s “X.”

Remember this week, Bainbridge Island; with $5 million now committed to the Pritchard Park/internment memorial, the project has turned the corner. With a private fund drive set to begin in March, finding the $8 million needed to buy the property is assuming an air of certainty.

And this week, with the federal appropriation at hand, islanders owe thanks to our contingent in the other Washington for their support and help. This effort will benefit the many, not the few.

More parks

How much would that property tax increase be?

Since our endorsement last Saturday of the Bainbridge Island Park and Recreation District levy, several readers have asked that we clarify the numbers again.

Okay. The current $4.922 million levy covers maintenance and operations in years 2003-04. That means that if you own the “average” $345,000 home, you paid a total of $473 to support local parks over that two-year period. Now before voters is a $5.709 million levy for 2005-06; factoring in increases in assessed valuation, the bill for the same homeowner would be $533. Remember, this is an average; your mileage may vary.

Thanks again to county Assessor Jim Avery for helping us with the math. As to any lingering confusion, we dare say it stems from the “teeter-totter” two-year levy cycle to which the park district is yoked, in which taxes for both years of park operations are collected in the first year.

So one more time: The tax increase on the “average” island home would be $30 for 2005, $30 for 2006, all collected in 2005; total tax bill for another two years of open gates (and associated services) at island parks and pools: $533.

And again, we urge a “Yes” vote.

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