Letters to the Editor

Project worthy of time, money

I would like to address Rob Clark’s question (“A curmudgeonly view of muddling,” June 21), “…why are we spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to restore the Yeomalt Cabin when there are homeless people on the street?”

Restoration of the Yeomalt Cabin is a great example of a public-private partnership put together to rescue and preserve one of the island’s true cultural treasures. (The cabin is one of only two remaining depression-era WPA projects left on the island). In a time of “beautiful, livable old houses” being destroyed “to build more ugly condos,” the Yeomalt Cabin restoration is a labor of love spearheaded, not by some government agency, but by our local island neighbors.

Here are some of the cold, hard financial facts regarding the restoration: The project’s budget, including in-kind donations of labor and materials, is $265,000 — approximately half of the cost to do the work if contracted out. This includes ADA-compliant bathrooms, which do not currently exist at the park. In a statewide competition with other projects, the state awarded the restoration a grant of $68,600. Again, through a competitive process, the city awarded the project a grant of $15,000. The Park District, the owner of the park, budgeted $50,000, which was only to be awarded after Team Yeomalt, the volunteer committee heading up the project, raised $100,000 from outside sources. This amount is less than the cost to island taxpayers to demolish the cabin and restore the site, had Team Yeomalt not stepped forward with its valiant effort. To date, including grants, over $200,000 of the needed $265,000 has been raised.

Here’s the bottom line: citizens of Bainbridge Island are preserving a unique and valuable piece of our cultural history. We’re getting an ADA-accessible facility that can be used for classes and community gatherings. The project, valued at over $530,000, is being completed at a net cost of $15,000 to local taxpayers. Camp Yeomalt is just the most recent example of the Park District partnering with local groups to provide needed, functional, modern facilities at real savings of hundreds of thousands of dollars over the cost to build them if the projects were completed through the normal process.

The next time you see members of Team Yeomalt (or any other non-profit with whom the district partners), please give them a hearty thank you for their tireless efforts.

KEN DeWITT

Chair, Board of Commissioners

Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park & Recreation District

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