Wrong choice

To the editor:

The island, not just the City Council, is involved in a vigorous debate over hiring the city manager from Coronado, CA – Blair King.

This reminds me of the conversation we had following the selection of Doug Schulze. The council and city used the same recruitment advisor. As before, the person who is presented to us has proven his mettle by developing – or in this case “redeveloping” – significantly enough that the communities saw substantial tax gains.

As before, this city manager makes significantly more than his predecessor, and there is a push to match the pay he receives in California. One council member let it slip that it could be as high as $300,000 per year because we can’t expect him to take a pay cut.

Can we all start flying closer to the ground? How about asking for a new city manager whose resume reflects our values and the reasons we live here – good schools, environmental stewardship, parks and trails, a solid Parks & Recreation program, a central community with a small-town feel. How about a city manager who places those values above development, knowing that development will continue regardless? How about a city manager who respects the values laid out in the Comprehensive Plan? How about a reasonable salary?

City Council, please reject another over-priced city manager who sees the job as “Director of Increased Development.”

Mary Clare Kersten

Bainbridge Island

Record straight?

To the editor:

Last week Shawn Liden claimed to “set the record straight” regarding the Triangle Property, but left out many key facts.

Since our drinking water comes from aquifers recharged by this site, we simply want the city and state to conduct adequate environmental reviews, as required by state law, for the actual work being done on the site. Instead, the city, Department of Natural Resource, and Department of Ecology are relying on a 2008 environmental review that focused on soil for Lynwood Center. It was estimated this would take two years and result in 22,000 yards of soil out and 32,000 yards in. Instead it’s now 12-plus years later, with no end in sight.

The city and state agencies’ records for this site over the past 12 years are sordid. Operating without a stormwater permit 2013-19. Exceeding permit boundaries 2012-16. Backfilling with non-approved materials including plastic, concrete, asphalt and rusty metal pipes in 2012 and 2014. More asphalt (not “clean soil”) found in 2018. It was declared abandoned in 2013. Liden failed to pay permit fees 2012-14, and DNR wrote off $1,911.28 of fees as “bad debt”. Liden has not submitted required paperwork on subsequent use of the property. Liden didn’t submit required annual reports in 2011-13, 2016 and 2018. They are still missing required fencing and permit marker posts in 2020-21.

It is time that the city act to withdraw the 2008 Mitigated Determination of Non-Significance for this site, re-examine if a Conditional Use Permit is required given the current scope of use, and conduct proper environmental reviews to protect our water.

Kevin Miller, Michael Sherry, Nick Masla, Wendy Tyner

Bainbridge Island

Ask King

To the editor:

As constituents who understand how critical it is that our city manager be in synch with the island’s values, we appreciated Councilmember Michael Pollock’s “deep dive” into the two final candidates the other day.

City Council had discussed these and other candidates and taken votes several times in executive session, leaving the citizenry in the dark. Some or all of these actions may have violated the Open Public Meetings Act.

In response, Councilmember Kirsten Hytopoulos sent around an email contending Pollock’s information was “inappropriate.” She pushed back on one fact in the lengthy set of quotes from news articles, but failed to dispute that the current finalist Blair King’s “claim to fame” is that he densified areas to increase tax revenue.

Bainbridge Island has shown through the past several elections that it does not prioritize more density, regardless of where it is. Hytopoulos failed to point out any examples of environmentalism (other than bicycle trails in flat Coronado). Hytopoulos failed to dispute that he was criticized as not “prioritizing open space enough” in one community.

Hytopoulos’s vehement, but unspecific, defense of this candidate feels like a deflection. Why is she opposed to an open, full and fair debate about whether this candidate is the right “fit” for Bainbridge Island? Ask King the questions Hytopoulos is unwilling to answer on Feb. 10.

Lisa Neal

Bainbridge Island

Extra costs

To the editor:

I am concerned about the renewal of questions surrounding the Police Station, citing concerns about a “sweetheart deal”, the cost –“it could have been negotiated for less”, etc. The greatest cost on this project is delaying this project further. As anyone in construction will tell you, delaying these days means extra cost and more delay (in part due to the supply chains affected by the pandemic).

I have been acquainted with this project/problem since I came to the island, 28 years ago. I recently reviewed the history of this project, which goes back to at least 2006 (a needs analysis) . The history of studies, possible locations (either withdrawn by the seller or found to be less desirable) is easily accessible on the city website.

The bottom line is that police need a new station, as the current one has been deemed inadequate since at least 2006. The Fire Department has rebuilt or built three stations in this time, and we have paid plenty for those. There has not been such a conflict over those designs and costs.

The Climate Change Advisory Committee has reviewed the proposed site/design and found it to be a significantly “greener” facility for its purpose. That will save us money and reduce our carbon footprint.

Let’s move forward with the proposed site/design and stop the “would, coulda, shoulda.” Reasonable oversight makes sense – that is the city’s and council’s job. The police and the island deserve a station that is purpose designed and updated. The pandemic has shown us that we need to be prepared for disasters as they can happen any time.

Gloria Sayler

Bainbridge Island

Support teachers

To the editor:

What makes a school district great? Teachers. Every day, we parents put our trust in educators to help guide our most precious gift, our children.

They share in the raising of our future. My children were born very premature. We have been fortunate living somewhere that values teachers and schools. My kids began at the developmental preschool. The moment we stepped foot in the classroom we had a team at our side that has cheered us on through the years. They listen to my concerns, make adjustments and help us grow – always supportive in our setbacks and celebrating in our victories. It’s time to stand by these exceptional people.

Throughout the pandemic we must remember, we were given a choice: online or hybrid. Things have changed. The goal posts moved. What about teachers and staff? Where is their choice? In recent surveys they have overwhelmingly stated they are not comfortable going back into the classroom without a vaccine. We are so close. Why can’t we wait?

Yet the marching orders have been given. The sacrifices they continue to make for our community are astounding. Some teachers are taking leaves of absences. We are losing incredible educators. The district has made it clear they are replaceable. I find this horrifying. How can our educators feel anything but devalued?

I know many families would continue online until all teachers and staff are vaccinated. Why is this not an option? I do understand some kids are hurting mentally and need in person connection. This needs to be addressed. But sending everyone back will also cause anxiety for families who have higher health risks. The mental health issue goes both ways. There are ways we can tackle these issues as a community. But to not give teachers a choice in their own health or the health of their families without massive repercussions is unconscionable. We owe them a choice. I will continue to stand with our teachers.

Amber McGing

Bainbridge Island

Girl Scouts

To the editor:

Our Girl Scout troop 44331 on Bainbridge Island will not be selling cookies this year because we have become aware that there is unethically and unsustainably resourced palm oil in the cookies we sell every year.

We are joining other Girl Scouts and taking action to solve this problem.

We want Girl Scouts of the USA to take action and “make the world a better place,” instead of sweeping this problem under the rug like they have been for 10 years.

Our troop wants to put a spotlight on this a relatively unknown issue.

Nadine Zygaj, along with Maggy, Meridian, Vivian, Allie, Emily, Helen and Sofia

Bainbridge Island

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