Bainbridge Island Review Letters to the Editor | Oct. 1
October 1, 2008 · 9:46 AM
Strawberry Plant Park
Deeply suspicious of park plan process
I found the time to go and attend the last hour of Saturday’s Strawberry Plant Park meeting. It turned out it was an invitation-only meeting. I was able to sneak in and listen to what the various five groups had to propose. I also read a letter sent by city planner Libby Hudson to the editor of the Review since – according to her – the editorial “included some misconceptions and misinterpretations” of the event.
She justifies the invitation-only meeting by claiming that “due to the nature of a design charrette there is limited capacity and broad representation was sought and achieved.” Well, I don’t remember that there was a restricted access when we had the charrette about Grow Avenue and I am sure the room would have easily accommodated more then the 30 or so people I saw at 4 p.m. Saturday
Of course, she mentions there are many more public meetings to come and opportunities for the public to participate. Maybe. It is too bad the first meeting took place behind closed doors when I think it could and should have been open to everybody and advertised as such. This is not a good way to start despite all the justifications that are advanced.
From the experience with the charrette for Grow Avenue, I remain deeply suspicious of how the positions expressed can be twisted and tweaked in the “final” presentation. It is said the “report” will be posted on the city website and the public will be able to comment for 14 days. If the process is the same as last time, the comments will be kept “private” so that the community will not be able to directly know what people think. I can, once again, only suggest using a blog format where all the comments are for everybody to read and can remain as long as needed and certainly more than 14 days.
What I heard was much less extreme as far as the restoration part is concerned than what I had understood. But I don’t take anything for granted and at this point it is essential to watch very closely what is proposed.
The kayakers should be happy to know that – from what I understood – almost everybody agreed they should be able to launch their non-motorized boats from the park (when the tide is high enough).
I am concerned that all the significant trees are not clearly and specifically accounted for while some projects include a parking lot situated at the entrance of the park. What about the huge trees that are situated there?
Bulkheads’ impact at crisis level in Sound
It is with a great deal of sadness and discouragement that I continue to read and hear arguments that bulkheads do not impact the habitat of Puget Sound. The continued demands of private property owners to allow the placement of materials along the shoreline that totally disrupt the natural function of the beaches and the nearshore habitat is tragic. It is also with a great deal of sadness that I have to admit that I have been involved in the permitting of shoreline modifications.
In every case where I have prepared permits for shoreline structures, I have carefully weighed the issues of whether this work can be done in a manner that will minimize the environmental impact while also minimizing the impact to the owner’s use of their private property. My efforts now are focused on providing expert witnesses in support of the protection of shoreline habitat.
As a fisheries scientist and a former structural engineer, there is no question that the science is clear, evident and defendable concerning the environmental degradation caused by bulkheads. One can pose all sorts of what ifs and wordsmith the language of professional documents. However, when this research is prepared by professionals and properly peer reviewed, it is the same process that the medical world uses to prove and test the medications that we use for our own personal health.
Most of the people who are criticizing regulations are probably using several medications for their personal health and survival. The health of Puget Sound is at a crisis level.
Any one that questions this simply needs to talk to a fisherman who has fished for salmon or steelhead in the Puget Sound region for more than 30 or 40 years. Why is there less than two months of the year when we can catch and keep a wild Chinook salmon? Why are many rivers closed to salmon and steelhead fishing? Why are we only allowed to catch hatchery salmon and steelhead most of the year? ome will argue that the problem is overharvesting by commercial and sport fishers. That is only a small part of the problem. We have the same lack of abundance of sear-un cutthroat trout and there is no commercial harvest of that species.
I also find it very discouraging when the demands of private property owners continues to have a strong influence on the implementation and enforcement of regulations. It appears that the squeaky wheel will continue to get the grease and the quality of Puget Sound will continue to decline. What a wonderful gift we are leaving for our children and grandchildren.