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"More sticks, fewer stones"
"Bainbridge's wheeled warriors will roll along a little more smoothly this summer, thanks to the completion of a roller-hockey rink at Battle Point Park.And skateboarders hope that their dream facility will also become a reality by next year.Perhaps best of all, these new public facilities aren't costing the taxpayers any money.The $25,000 cost of the roller hockey rink came from the Bainbridge Island Roller Hockey League and the Bainbridge Rotary Club, for whom the rink is named.Rotary Rink was built on top of an existing outdoor asphalt basketball court in the park. Ace Paving resurfaced the court and added 30 feet on each end to make a hockey-length rink. The league purchased removable barricades, which surround the playing surface during games, but which can be removed in part to allow basketball play at other times.This is the league's third year. Up until this season, players had to make do with an asphalt basketball court that was definitely substandard.It was full of dust and rocks and stuff, 9-year-old Trevor Bergstrom said of the old facility. And they played basketball there, so it had all these white lines.Ten-year-old Gretchen Hayward agreed. Between bites of pre-game pizza this week, she said, This is much better. We don't have to chase the puck into the grass. And there's something to grab onto if you fall. It's more like playing hockey.The league bore the cost of the facility - roughly $25,000. The league had some $4,000 in the bank to start, raised $14,000 more, and received a $7,000 grant from the Bainbridge Island Rotary Club for the balance.League president Maureen Weiss said that some of the money came from the sale of advertising on the rink's sideboards, but that the young players raised most of the money themselves.We had skate-a-thons, where the kids got sponsors to pledge a certain amount of money for each lap they skated around the duck pond at Battle Point, she said. We had car washes. And for two years, we've had our Super Bowl Sunday hoagie sale, where we make and deliver hoagie sandwiches.Park district Director Dave Lewis praised the public-private partnership model that used private funds to build a public recreational facility.We don't have the money to do a lot of these things on our own, Lewis said, but we have the expertise. We can enhance facilities for the entire community by letting the community conduct the work under our supervision.The district maintains quality control by consulting extensively with the private groups at the beginning of the process, then drafting a contract specifying how the work is to be done.Other projects performed under the partnership model include baseball field improvements, a Battle Point soccer field drainage project scheduled for this summer and planned equestrian enhancements at Manzanita Park.There are things that the private groups couldn't do on their own and we couldn't do on our own, Lewis said. But we can accomplish them as a partnership. The successes are testimony that the process works.Meanwhile, fund-raising efforts continue for the Rotary Skatepark planned for Strawberry Hill Park. Backers have raised roughly 80 percent of the necessary $100,000.Half of the necessary money - $50,000 - came in one fell swoop from the Bainbridge Rotary Club. Other island businesses contributed much of the $25,000, and the Bainbridge Park Foundation awarded $5,000.The business community has stepped up big time, said Kevin O'Brien, who is spearheading the fund-raising efforts. Now it's up to the parents and skaters.O'Brien said that both island supermarkets have given permission for fund-raising tables, and he expects efforts to step up during the warmer months.The summer coming on raises consciousness about skating, said O'Brien, whose son is a rider. We're far enough down the road that I'm real confident.The skatepark will be a bowl on the south of the baseball parking lot at Strawberry Hill. The eight-foot-deep trough will be filled with a number of features to promote tricks and fancy skateboarding, and give skaters a place to ply their skills other than the various paved surfaces around the island - mostly at commercial establishments - that are now used illegally.While the skating advocates are looking at ways to scale back the costs, they don't want to compromise too far.Our contractor says ours is the best design he's ever seen, O'Brien said."