Few options for mobile home park

To get some idea of the economic realities facing the Islander Mobile Home Park, one need only look north across Madrona Way to where “luxury townhomes” are under construction.

Under present zoning – the most dense on the island, as it happens – and under private redevelopment, that is the likely destiny of the six-plus acres on which the mobile home park’s 60 or so families now reside. It is one of the tradeoffs inherent in our island’s Comprehensive Plan: high-intensity development in the Winslow core, in hopes of forestalling demand for housing out in the Bainbridge hinterlands.

As reported over the past week, hopes that the mobile home park could sit undisturbed for the next decade appear to have been dashed by officials at the state Housing Trust Fund; they will not help finance purchase of the park by the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority unless the property is

redeveloped after five years. The news settles in like a

hangover, after celebration last summer when KCCHA agreed to buy the park to maintain it as a needed tract of modest

housing. It’s doubly disappointing to be reminded once again that while our Comprehensive Plan may make grand

pronouncements about the community’s commitment to affordable housing, economic reality still trumps the best of intentions.

Yes, it’s an anachronism. With its central location and affordable rents, the Islander park has been a haven for elderly residents on fixed incomes, and plain-old, on-island workers – employees at Town & Country, the hardware store, eateries, the post office – the sort of folks whose paychecks won’t buy them a house on a lot. Its most distinguishing characteristic is modesty: of homes, of cars, of landscaping. Yet they are residences that also suggest pride of ownership, even if the people who live there don’t hold title to the land itself.

We hope residents will continue to work with our public agencies, and that the park can in fact be maintained for

another half-decade before redevelopment begins. True, nothing may say “American Dream” quite like owner-occupied,

freestanding homes – mobile homes included. But we suspect that the island’s clever architects can come with some nice multi-story housing opportunities there, with common areas, green spaces, maybe some rooftop gardens and balconies turned toward the waterfront. And wouldn’t that be ironic – subsidized housing with some of the best views in town.

If the mobile home park property is going to be redeveloped, better the project be in the hands of folks committed to

keeping it open to those of lesser means. We need to hear that message now and again, that the average person still has a place on Bainbridge Island.

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