Letters to the Editor

Project’s exemption threatens the ravine | Letters | Jan. 15

As a regular commuter from Bainbridge to Seattle, I pass by the Island Gateway project five days a week. I watched the ongoing construction for some time now, aware of some of our citizens’ concerns about this project, and unfortunately deciding that I did not have sufficient time or energy to get involved.

I now apologize to my fellow citizens, who chose to take the time and provide comments and concerns to the city, and to all of the other island citizens who care so deeply about our environment and our island values. And why do I regret not getting involved?

Just last week I was aghast as I watched the Island Gateway project pave it’s newly constructed road which abuts the edge of the ravine. I was expecting to see more than the meager (10 feet as I later learned), and in some spots zero, buffer.

How could this have happened after so much time was spent by so many Bainbridge Island citizens working with a long and arduous public process to develop our island’s critical areas ordinance (CAO)?

This effort included buffer requirements for steep slopes and streams, including one specifically for the Winslow Ravine.

Upon inquiry I have learned that the city gave the Island Gateway project an exemption to the CAO’s 50-foot buffer established specifically for the Winslow Ravine, an already compromised value to accommodate the ravine’s location in the downtown core.

Something is amiss here. I hope that this is a relict of our previous administration’s way of doing business, i.e., if you are a developer we’ll do our best to accommodate you and at any expense, including our community values and environmental resources.

Maybe our city ordinances make it simply too easy to grant an exemption, possibly by providing city staff too much latitude in interpretation? Or is our city administration incapable of upholding the community’s values during the planning and approval phases of these large expensive projects?

Take the time to understand what really happened here with the Island Gateway project and the citizen’s challenge to the city’s decisions, and ask yourself if this is how you want your city government to work. Has our city given away what our community holds of value the most?

We should all ask ourselves what the cost of these exemptions and other “giveaways” are to the community. Or you may awake one morning and tell yourself this is not our beautiful island, and you may ask yourself, how did we get here?

Lisa Macchio

Bainbridge Island

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