Letters to the Editor

Strawberry Plant Park: It’s time to move on | Letters | July 2

First let me thank you [council members] for the many opportunities you have provided the public to comment on the Strawberry Plant shoreline restoration project over the past six months.

I have attended a number of the meetings, including the recent work study session.

So I would like to now strongly urge you to be consistent and continue your support of this project, and see it through to its completion.

To my mind, it has been thoroughly vetted by top scientists, has undergone an extensive public process and has even withstood a legal challenge – enough is enough.

If you were to listen closely to the opponents of this project, you might be led to believe that the Strawberry Plant Park is currently a beautiful bayside park with irreplaceable historical significance to Bainbridge Island.

And it’s teeming with devoted users from the neighborhood and appreciative tourists from around the world, who frolic in its waters and play contentedly on its meadows, all of which would be completely destroyed by these planned shoreline improvements.

But when you actually visit Strawberry Plant Park, you are amazed to see that it’s a completely different story.

There is nothing historic here, except possibly for some aged concrete.

There are no ancient trees or historic buildings, or even remnants of a factory worth restoring such as at Gasworks Park in Seattle.

It is indeed a fine location, but at the moment it is mostly a vast, desolate parking lot.

The ground level features the remains of an industrial site, with rebar and chunks of concrete scattered about, and virtually no safe access to the shore, which is in fact an unappealing mud flat with no beach to walk on.

I have visited there many times over the years, and I have rarely seen anyone else, which is confirmed by several neighbors, until of course recently when the site was taken over by opponents of the restoration.

I appreciate their passion, but it is misplaced here. They are continuing to try and subject this project to a death by a thousand cuts. But they have had their say, and now it is time to move on.

Change can be difficult for anyone, especially for those fervently devoted to the past, but remember the intense controversy over the roundabout at High School Road, which was going to be the end of Bainbridge as we knew it and possibly trigger the loss of all first-born children.

Now it is widely accepted as a good solution to an intractable traffic problem, and many now get a slight centrifugal pleasure from driving around it. The traffic experts were right, and we have subsequently moved on, trying to remember what the brouhaha was all about.

I have lived on the island since 1983, and in that time I’ve worked with groups to preserve open space and create new additions to our park system.

I even spent a number of years on the Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, with a year as the chairman. I know from those experiences how important parks are to a community, and how passionately people can feel about them.

In many ways, they are our shared heart and soul. A park can be a place for joyful exuberant play, for thoughtful reflection on nature, and even provide great solace when things are hard.

This park will be all of that when it is completed, and there will plenty of opportunity and room for public access and recreation.

It will be rejuvenated by a new shoreline of great beauty and restored natural functions, and which ultimately will be joined with the upland area that the whole community will help design with the park district.

It will be safer and even more usable by the public.

And if we learn from our past mistakes and do this right, it can help bring the whole community together again to appreciate what has been created, not only for ourselves but for the next several generations of Bainbridge Islanders.

You each had the courage of your convictions to run for public office and serve the whole community the best way you could in these very challenging municipal times, and you have done well this year as you’ve learned to work together.

Thank you all for your continuing efforts to make Bainbridge a great community to live in.

Frank Stowell

Bainbridge Island

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