To the editor:
Hilltop, which has grown to 36 acres, is the property connecting the east and west portions of the Grand Forest. It is a treasure that has already been enjoyed by hundreds.
However, its chapter in the history of the Bainbridge Island Land Trust is not yet secure. Contrary to what many of you believe, the land trust still has a substantial amount of money to raise before the future of the entire Hilltop property is assured.
Since 2011, the people of Bainbridge Island and other generous supporters of Bainbridge Island Land Trust’s mission have shown their belief in the value of land conservation and open space by contributing to the acquisition of the Hilltop property. The exciting news is that we are 90 percent of the way toward our fundraising goal. The challenging news is that we need an additional $360,000 before we can close this campaign and turn our attention to the many new conservation opportunities that await.
In partnership with Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park & Recreation District, an initial eight acres of Hilltop has been transferred to parks ownership, and a connecting trail has been built.
But that is only a small part of what the final Hilltop story should be. If the land trust is able to raise the entire amount needed, we will have preserved acres of valuable forest land and wetlands. An existing barn will receive new life as a community asset. Other trails will be built. Important watershed and wildlife habitat will be preserved.
If we fail to raise the needed funds – and we do not intend to fail – we run the risk of having to sell part of the property for private development. We need to reenergize the Hilltop campaign now, so that we can put this unpleasant prospect out of mind.
What can you do now?
Many of you have already been generous contributors to Hilltop, but you might find it timely to make another contribution. Bainbridge Islanders are like that.
Another thing you can do is be an active salesperson for Hilltop. While nearly 500 households have contributed to the Hilltop campaign so far, there are more than 9,000 households on Bainbridge Island. If asked, most of the people who have not contributed to Hilltop would say that they support the work of the land trust, and think that the Hilltop acquisition is a wonderful thing. But they just haven’t gotten around to making a pledge or writing a check.
We are blessed on Bainbridge Island with many generous people with the means to make a difference. Some of them just need a nudge or reminder. Please tell all of your friends of our need, or tell us about friends who could help.
With your continued support, we will get this last 10 percent of the fundraising done, and the thought of rooftops in the Hilltop meadow will just be a bad dream.
VAL TOLLEFSON AND CAROL SPERLING