Hike marks a successful quest for space

As you enjoy this newspaper over your breakfast of high-fiber cereal and high-octane coffee, some of your friends and neighbors will be tramping over hill and dale on new woodland paths at the island’s south end.

As reported Wednesday, the first-ever “Shore to Shore Walk” commences at 10 a.m. this morning, to mark the opening of an expansive trail network spanning an array of contiguous open space parcels acquired by the city. In a brief ceremony, the Peters, Blossom and Cool families will be honored for their contribution to the cause; each sold land to the city at a significant discount, making the first public shore-to-shore connection possible. And then it’s off – and up, over and down – across the challenging terrain, which ascends from the shoreline to the forested heights of Gazzam Lake Park, before descending once again to the banks of Port Orchard Bay on the island’s west side. And back.

We’ve written extensively on the city’s open space program over the past four years, with some 240 acres preserved through purchase or donation. With the $8 million in bond funding now exhausted (although the commission may be able to broker a few smaller deals, if some less desirable

corners are resold), one question we’ve heard on occasion:

Is it time for another open space bond?

To which we would answer: It’s a nice thought, but no.

Clearly, the community faces a number of costly challenges in the coming months and years, including repairs to crumbling school buildings and funding for the downtown planning initiative. As those needs pose clear implications for the local tax burden, it’s time to improve the open space properties we’ve already acquired for better public access and use – through private funding.

The Peters property trail that will be dedicated this morning was constructed with $23,000 authorized by the City Council; public money has also been set aside to add amenities including boardwalks, trails and parking at other recently acquired parks, including the Hall Property on Eagle Harbor, the Rockaway Beach dive park and the trail connection between the Grand Forest and Battle Point Park.

Islanders can supplement that work through contributions to the Bainbridge Island Parks Foundation. The 9-year-old nonprofit organization exists independent of the park district. Not particularly widely known, the foundation is nonetheless a good way to channel private donations to specific park needs. Contributions to the foundation last year sent money to the Battle Point Park transmitter building restoration project and nearby horse arena, the new pool ozonator and a restroom and snack shack at Sands Field. It is among the many agencies represented in the upcoming One Call drive, and in lieu of a new open space bond, would make a good vehicle to further the cause.

And if you read this in time and want a rigorous, healthy hike, celebrate the open space program’s success on this morning’s “Shore to Shore Walk.” Point A is right next to Schel-Chelb Estuary on Point White Drive; Point B depends on how far that high-fiber, high-test breakfast will take you.

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