Letters to the Editor

Help us turn an eyesore into a gateway park | Letters | Jan. 27

The Citizens Park Task Force is an informal group of community volunteers who have come together to convert the ugly vacant lot on the corner of State Route 305 and Winslow Way into an attractive and welcoming gateway to Bainbridge Island.

Our vision is to make this former Unocal gas station site into a source of pride for our entire community.

In connection with this campaign, we are committed to four key principals: no public funds will be spent to create this park; every step of the project will be subject to the approval of city and Kitsap Transit (current owners), and Park District (the future managers); the design of the park will integrate broad public input and ideas; and the park will be environmentally safe and responsible.

To help island residents understand more about the environmental circumstances at the site, here are some key facts that we have learned after discussion with environmental consultants and the State Department of Ecology:

1. Even after the initial clean up of the site by Unocal in the 1990s, some gasoline products remain below the surface of the site – but the top 6-to-12 feet of soil are clean and safe.

2. The city and Kitsap Transit purchased this property from Unocal with full knowledge of the subsurface conditions, and a below-market price was paid for the property because of the environmental condition.

3. The owners are contractually obligated to indemnify Unocal for all environmental liabilities relating to the site, and conversion of the site into a park will not in any way change the nature of the city’s current liability.

4. DOE has no objection to the use of the site as a park so long as there are no deep soil park improvements.

5. Placement of a park on the site will not hinder future environmental remediation efforts at the site (whenever that should happen); all existing testing wells located on the site will be protected and remain accessible for future sampling of groundwater.

6. Many former gas station sites in Washington – with residual sub-surface contamination – have been converted into safe and attractive public parks. The former Unocal site can easily become one of these.

If you have any questions, or if you want to get involved in this project, please contact one of the undersigned members of the Citizen Park Task Force Steering Committee.

Help us convert an eyesore into a beautiful island gateway.

Task Force members: James Chapel, Steve Davis, Kimberly Gawlik, Jill Johnston, Chris Snow and Bruce Weiland

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