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Civility is waning on Bainbridge Island | Letters to the Editor

Community

Civility is waning among islanders

I’ve lived on Bainbridge three different times since 1991. We moved back here for the final time in 2001. This is our home. Sometimes you have to leave a place to know where you belong. Northwest natives, we moved here originally because we were sick of the noise, crime and traffic in Seattle and wanted a safer, kinder place to raise our daughter. I know many other people moved here – and will move here – for the same reasons.

Yet as our community has grown, I’ve noticed a disturbing pattern emerging. People are just not as nice as they used to be.

Not that long ago if you were backing out of a parking space on Winslow Way, everyone stopped for you. Stopped and waved. No one ever honked – unless it was to alert someone to danger. Or to say hi. Everyone stopped at crosswalks. People were patient in lines. Written and unwritten codes of conduct were observed when commuting. We looked out for one another. We picked up litter, helped lost animals and kids and held doors for each other.

Thankfully, a lot of this still goes on. But not enough. I’ve been honked at, sworn at, glared at, gestured at – you name it – over the past few years. And it seems to be getting worse. And after over thousands of trips on the boat, I recently experienced the rudest man ever. I used to console myself by thinking people who behave this way are tourists and just don’t know how we treat each other here. More and more, though, this behavior is stemming from those of us who live here, too.

It’s contagious. So I have to warn myself. If someone is rude to me, I have to be disciplined enough to let it go, assume they are having a bad day and move on – not take out their bad behavior on the next slow elderly driver, poky pre-teen in a crosswalk or meticulous check writer at the store.

I’m a progressive sort. We have to grow and evolve as a community. But we don’t have to lose our humanity in the process. I’m not wishing nostalgically for a Mayberry RFD type of past that may never have been. But I am seeking a return to civility in daily life on our beloved island and if that means a look to Winslow Yesterday to remember how to behave today and tomorrow, so be it.

MARIJANE C. MILTON

Raccoon Lane

Lynwood Center

The real scoop about sand pit

Near the turn of the last century, Bainbridge was a prosperous, bustling place. An entrepreneurial woman named Edna developed in an area that came to be known as Lynwood Center. Now, a century later, her development is considered by many islanders to be an architectural icon. Builder Bill Nelson has, as the centerpiece of his architecturally sympathetic development, restored Edna’s Manor House to better than new. He has done this where no less than three very good restaurant operators in the last 25 years have failed.

On a recent Friday afternoon, the City of Bainbridge kneecapped Nelson with a “stop work” order nullifying the clearing and grading permit granted by the city’s Land Use Department after additional months of study. With a stroke of the pen, the city cut off the supply of an essential building component – sand – to Nelson’s separately permitted Lynwood Center project. Sand is a product best transported and placed with the last environmental impact during the dry summer months.

The Review article (“Whole lot of hole,” June 28), sourced only from perspectives of the city, does not introduce into the “conversation” these interesting questions:

1. An out-of-state developer, aptly named Opus, excavated a much bigger and deeper hole for Harbor Square in the middle of a residential area without interference from the city. Why the difference?

2. How will a “stop work” order remediate a former pit site as required in the permit previously granted by the city’s Land Use Department to Nelson?

3. Now that the value of the site has been destroyed by the order, who is going to pay for the remediation of the site in its current condition?

4. Is it possible that the political hand of the city repudiating the months of work done by its engineering and land use employees might have something to do with the difficulties the city has in recruiting and retaining those professional staffs, notwithstanding the 30 percent higher staff costs than comparable cities?

5. Does the city’s refusal to offer to Nelson any justification for its action even before comments by the state DNR invited by the city to review the project, suggest some back-room political maneuver is in the works?

6. Is it a wise expenditure of scarce city funds to force litigation that leaves the city’s taxpayers exposed to significant damages for handicapping a project that would otherwise ultimately produce the tax revenues the lack of which is causing a shortfall in the city’s current operating budget?

7. Isn’t it the job of the Review to explore these kinds of questions before rushing to print yet another “gee whiz, isn’t that a big hole” story?

I suggest the Review owes the readers a deeper analysis of the issues. It is too easy and cheap to imply the builders are destroying the planet and making no effort to abide by all the rules.

BILL MOORE

Property owner/Lynwood Center Triangle

Vandalism

Felony charges are too stiff for teens

We are the parents of three teenagers, including one who is a member of the Class of 2008 at BHS. We believe that people need to comply with laws, be personally responsible and face consequences when they disregard the law. We also believe, however, that the punishment needs to fit the crime.

When a few members of the Class of 2008 vandalized the police cars, they broke the law, went way beyond a senior prank and should face some serious consequences. On that we can all agree. But, should they really face felony charges and 30 years in adult prison? The community seems divided on this issue. If we all try to understand that an 18-year-old young man who poured paint and slashed tires is not the same as an adult rapist or murderer, that no one was injured or, worse, killed during this event, we might be able to have a collective voice of reason.

The relationship between the police and the youth of Bainbridge Island is strained. Let’s not let this crime escalate things. Let’s show our youth that we, the community and the adults, do care about them and value people more than things. Let’s take this as an opportunity to help these young men who used very bad judgment and committed a crime, but not one that should cause them to lose promising futures. What a waste.

Instead, let’s mentor them, require lots of community service and, of course, make them financially responsible for the damage that they caused. Let’s support these kids by letting them know that what they did is absolutely wrong, but that we won’t let them throw their lives away with one foolish act.

SUSANNE and MARK SCHNEIDER

North Tolo Road

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