Opinion

Park and ride repaired: thanks a lot

We’d be remiss in our duties as occasional chider of local officialdom if we didn’t hand out roses now and again as well.

Ergo, in an otherwise sluggish news week, we should offer a follow-up report on the Phelps Road park and ride lot, and what has transpired there since our commentary of a few weeks back.

Readers will recall that our friends at Bainbridge Kiwanis, personified by Liz Murray, had lobbied county and state alike for improvements to the widely used but badly neglected wayside. (The group’s interest stemmed from some years past, when the property was maintained informally by a club member and dubbed “Kiwanis Park.”) Long ignored by public officials, the lot was badly rutted and nearly impassible for non-military vehicles; the various agencies one usually associates with the maintenance of roadways and related facilities all suggested that while the parking area could indeed use some attention, such efforts would more correctly be the province of some other agency.

As each year passed, so did the buck.

So earlier this spring, Murray took her concerns to the

mayor’s office and the Bainbridge City Council; this

newspaper suggested that the city was missing a chance to demonstrate responsiveness and good will to north-end commuters who choose that lot to leave their car and catch the bus to work. Moreover, we argued, nobody really cares whose problem it is, they just want it fixed.

Well... Several weeks ago, out of the blue, the lot was posted for imminent improvement; the following Saturday, a crew rolled in from the Washington State Department of Transportation, abetted by our city’s Department of Public Works and Kitsap Transit, which has several bus stops adjacent. The city contributed heavy equipment and more than $1,000 worth of gravel; by the end of the afternoon, the lot had been graded to a more benign level of unrefinement. Even the garbage at the north end of the property was picked up.

Kiwanis approves.

“I just am tickled that everyone finally got together,” Murray told us the other day. “It was so long overdue. It was a finger-pointing thing for years.”

With the heavy equipment come and gone, Kiwanians now have volunteered to plant rhododendrons at the lot’s perimeter to spruce up its aesthetics a bit; contributions of money and labor are now being solicited, c/o Murray.

Several questions remain, not least the lot’s place in the grander scheme of comprehensive planning, which on this island prefers its park and rides in neighborhoods rather than next to the highway. Too, some wonder whether the lot will actually see more regular attention. Its “unofficial” status was the very excuse used by highway officials in letting the lot slip into such wanton disrepair, and vehicle tires and Northwest rains have a way of eroding the grader’s finest achievements.

We put the latter question to Randy Witt, public works director, who was rash enough to go on record as an optimist.

“I think it will be (maintained) now that there’s interest,” he told us. “The fact that we got together shows we’re getting along with the state.”

Indeed. But should it once again fall into decline, Murray stands ready. “I firmly believe in the squeaky wheel,” she told us. “I really do.”

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