Letters to the Editor

LETTERS

Farming

Farmers need your support

The Philippines is unable to obtain enough rice for its people. Thailand has put an export duty on rice. Thai farmers guard their fields with shotguns as hunger feeds desperation. Six other countries are limiting food exports, including Argentina, which has put export duties on soybeans, causing farmer demonstrations. Food riots are taking place in Egypt, Haiti and parts of Pakistan. Some of these shortages are the result of high fuel costs, some are the result of shifting food production to biofuels.

Even here on Bainbridge Island, some folks are hurting from higher fuel and food costs. We have the ability to grow some of our own food here. On the Day Road farm, between 80 and 100 tons of edible products are produced each year — organically. The people who have been growing food here, Akio, Karen, Betsey, Brian and myself have built up specialized farming skills over decades, suited to our island. But if we are to grow even more food we need to develop farmer housing and a sophisticated irrigation system.

The Trust for Working Landscapes has been working with the city on a farm plan. They have also been working with volunteers to put in a new irrigation system. Now, there may be a question about funding the completion of the system.

The world has not seen food shortages this severe in many decades. There is no sign things will get better. The Day Road farmers stand ready to do whatever they can to provide some level of local food security. Community support today is crucial. The food you eat, the wine you drink, is the community, landscape and security you create.

GERARD BENTRYN

East Day Road

Can farmers, urbanites unite?

I couldn’t agree more with the headline (an April 16 letter) regarding Earth Day: “Let’s make it a daily event.” The goals of practicing more sustainable living habits and reducing our carbon footprint invite local citizens to participate in a myriad of ways, as illuminated in Saturday’s Review.

I fear, however, what might be “between the lines” in the definition of agricultural sustainability in the statement “In Our Opinion” that the city is currently considering “re-establishment of an agricultural zone” in the rewrite of its zoning codes. I wholeheartedly support the protection of existing farmland and local farming endeavors. I also support the right of all people in this community to contribute to their own and the community’s sustainability by raising a portion of their own food and maybe even extra for their neighbors. The farm meeting last week at the Grange Hall that included Planning Director Greg Byrne and Councilman Barry Peters, who also wears the Sustainable Bainbridge hat, heard a significant group of citizens discuss the definition of farming, and the concern that current city codes make it difficult to initiate or continue farm-like activities such as raising livestock in areas where houses are (or soon will be developed) in close or next-door proximity to these endeavors.

Will the city relax codes or relegate to an agricultural zone the right to raise chickens, goats or a vegetable garden in place of a lawn? Will we have “protective” ordinances that protect homeowners from un-suburban sounds, scents or landscaping features? Will citizens be prevented from selling or trading the excess bounty from their homes, because “ag business” is restricted outside the ag zone? Remember the piano teacher a few years ago who was turned in by neighbors for operating a business that generated too much traffic to and from her house?

Yes, Bainbridge is becoming more gentrified, more populated and less rural, as those with the means are choosing to move away from higher density areas. Will the city support or relegate to designated areas and some tight definition of farmer the values and visions of “rural,” and the rewards of growing our own? What is sustainable? Who can be a “farmer?”

NANCY FORTNER

Summerhill Lane

Community

Too rash with statement?

I am writing to express my concern about an inaccurate statement made at the city’s recent finance committee meeting by City Council member Kim Brackett. The statement could have been deemed innocuous, if it were not referenced as “fact” by a presumably well intentioned Bob Fortner in a summary note discussing the city’s current budget challenges, distributed I presume to a large group.

Ms. Bracket cited data at Foreclosure.com, which reports 324 homes on Bainbridge Island are presumably “in foreclosure.” Deeper examination shows that, of the 324 data points on the site, in excess of 280 are properties with tax liens, some dating back to 2003, or without dates; this represents only an encumbered title, not an action that would typically lead to the loss of one’s home. I have a hard time believing the city would foreclose a home for an unpaid tax balance of $5,000 or less (also from the site). Of the balance (34 homes), a majority are in some undefined state termed “preforeclosure.” I’d question the veracity of this site’s data, as it appears misleading at best.

There is no question city leadership is facing a challenging situation created by the drop in revenue. It is incumbent on those elected, then, to act cautiously and thoughtfully when discussing and making those budget decisions in front of them.

GREG MILLERD

Bainbridge Island

No Northgate for Winslow

My wife and I didn’t choose to live in Bainbridge in the hope that Winslow Way might somehow be turned into a “MegaMart,” or whatever you want to call the grandiose plans for destroying the ambiance that we all treasure. Not to mention the unbelievable amounts of money the city council is spending. The Winslow Way that we now enjoy should be saved. OK, minor safety and parking improvements would be welcome, but we don’t want another “Northgate”.

JAMES P. SHENFIELD

Pleasant Beach

Design team keeps it local

Isn’t Living on Bainbridge Island “local” enough?

The majority of the design team that is working on Winslow Way Streetscape lives on Bainbridge Island. This team was chosen because of their outstanding qualifications and for the high number of team members that actually live on the island.

Tom von Shrader (design engineer) moved to Bainbridge Island in the early 1980s. The first project his firm (SvR) worked on was for Bainbridge Island. We are fortunate to have him living on Bainbridge Island and working on this project.

Michael Romero (project manager) lives on Bainbridge Island. I see him heading to meet with Bainbridge Island downtown business owners to discuss the project and develop a construction schedule that best supports business operations.

Mike Read (public outreach) lives in downtown Winslow. You can see him zipping around on his bike or walking with his family at the Farmers Market. You bet he cares deeply about how the main street of his hometown is designed and constructed.

Chris Wierzbicki (project manager) recently moved to Bainbridge Island, drawn here by the importance, complexity and challenge of this Winslow Way Streetscape project.

Now, where do you think all these islanders pay for groceries, go out to dinner, purchase books, get bake goods, buy a cup of coffee, and pay property taxes? Yes, Bainbridge Island.

Please do not make this out to be an “us” versus “them” argument in an effort to demonize. These people are your neighbors, our friends, and parents of local school children. I am thankful to have people who live here and care about Bainbridge Island working on this important project.

Believe me, these islanders are sure to give this project their absolute best, otherwise we’ll be bending their ear at the grocery store, the bakery, or the post office.

DEBBI LESTER

Ihland Way

The arts

Come see ‘Anything Goes’

Bainbridge High School’s drama department is presenting Cole Porter’s “Anything Goes” in six performances from May 2 through the 18th.

I’d like to invite the community to show its support for our community’s kids and for the drama and music departments by making a point to attend this vibrant production.

More than 40 local high schoolers are singing and dancing in the production, which features a live student orchestra. Nearly as many students and faculty members are working hard behind the scenes.

The show is packed with wonderful songs and the cast has worked very hard to bring the production to life. I hope to see you there!

MARIJANE MILTON

Parent Volunteer

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