Letters to the editor

Do we need it?

To the editor:

Want. Want. Want, but do we need it? The human ego is the most destructive species on the planet injecting its want over the well being of all other species. My ego wants to see that the vote to preserve the north corridor of the Grand Forest stands; that the vote of the people is honored to benefit those species that call it their home. With our continual encroachment on their habitat they are already stressed. Even our walking through the forests with our loud voices is stressful. A trail built, with all the bells and whistles, for sport would have an egregious negative impact on this environment.

Being in my 60s, I have the benefit of looking back, enabling me to weigh the difference of impact between want and need. In my 20s and 30s I was an avid mountain biker who rode up and down the hills of what was left of the wild in Orange. It was wild good fun, I understand the passion for it. I witnessed a shift of rapid interest and increase of enthusiasts. I witnessed mountain biking evolve from hobby into sport. Trundling through the hills is challenging, but with sport it became dangerous. Not only did I witness extreme soil and landscape erosion by the intensity in numbers and the spirit in which they rode, but I also witnessed some serious wipeouts – even fatalities.

My vote to preserve Grand Forest North is based in honoring and respecting what a vote stands for, and for the lives of those species that call this landscape their home. For the want of a specific mountain biking area there are several underused baseball fields that could be developed with ample parking already available.

Dana Rosenbaum

Rolling Bay

Favor trails

To the editor:

I am writing to voice my strong support for the proposed mountain bike trails in Grand Forest North. I was a member of the Gear Grinders Mountain Biking Team for six years through middle and high school and a team captain for five of those years. Mountain biking had a very positive impact on me during that time teaching me leadership, the value of maintaining the trails on the island, and to enjoy nature more all while getting good exercise.

There is a proposal to build more trails with an emphasis on biking in the North Grand Forest, an area with relatively few walkers. Should the parks board approve these trails, I will be looking forward to helping the Gear Grinders to build and maintain the trails while back from college.

Connor LaCroix

Bainbridge Island

Trail solution

To the editor:

My family has had a 23-year love affair with the Grand Forest North. We’ve watched generations of Pileated Woodpeckers nesting and foraging in the snags, rescued injured Northern Flying Squirrels and even witnessed otters cavorting down the watershed. We used our own machete to clear brambles long before BIPRD turned its attention to improving the trails.

I’m disappointed in the apparent stance of Mr. Hamlin and the BIMBC, equating trail stewardship with being owed the favor of their own mountain biking park. The BIMBC proposal is in complete opposition to the intention of GFN usage.

Mountain biking is a fantastic lifetime activity, and it’s nice for beginning riders to have gentle trails. There is a compromise solution.

First, do not expand the current GFN outer loop. Nobody wants to walk around outside the forest, looking at houses and cars. Next, redesign the four proposed downhill trails into two self-contained biking loops. This increases the number of trails while reducing the interaction between user groups. Build the skills area at Sakai or Battle Point. Importantly, the installation of parking spaces will necessitate an upgrade to a four-way stop at the Miller/Koura intersection; a blind intersection with vehicles traveling too fast for the safety of an increased number of bikes and children. It is possible to minimize the impact of increased usage and maintain the intent of keeping Grand Forest North a place of quiet appreciation.

Sheila Meidell

Bainbridge Island

Support bike trails

To the editor:

I am writing to express my strong support for the proposed mountain bike skills building area and expansion of the trail system in the North Grand Forest.

I am a 36-year resident of Bainbridge Island, an original member of Squeaky Wheels, a previous coach for the Gear Grinders, and a lifelong commuting and recreational cyclist. I have been involved with and witnessed many improvements for cyclists on the island over the decades and have seen the number of youth and adults using bikes to get to school and work expand exponentially.

Additionally, I love nothing better than being in the forest and have hiked and biked most of the island trails. The Parks Department has done a wonderful job expanding the trail system, and Parks employees say that the Gear Grinders have been their most-reliable source of volunteer labor for trail work parties. Trails are a particularly safe way for kids to cycle and get around the island.

The North Grand Forest is an ideal location for a skills-building area dedicated to mountain biking. These skills are translatable to safe riding on the road, as well. The proposed addition will help educate generations of young riders to ride safe, ride strong, be environmental stewards, give back to their community, and get outside for fun and fitness.

The island has benefited from expansion of the trail system, and sharing the trail is an established value and practice of the many mountain bikers I know. As a Gear Grinders coach, I have swerved many a time to avoid horse droppings carelessly left behind on trails by equestrian users, but I don’t feel any hostility toward them or feel a need to curtail their use of public trails. I have had to dodge or stop for a dog left off leash by an irresponsible dog walker, but I likewise wouldn’t want to outlaw dogs on trails.

Be nice. Share the trail. Support your Parks Department and this effort.

B. Sue Johnson,

Bainbridge Island

Slow down

To the editor:

It is disappointing to hear that the push by the parks department to convert sections of the Grand Forest North into mountain-biking trail is being hurried along such that the local community has not had the opportunity to truly understand the impacts.

While park services staff claim that the review of this effort has not been “kept a secret,” the fact remains that the announcement has left many community members and park enthusiasts blind-sided.

Not in the slightest a good look for the city.

Jasper Campbell

Bainbridge Island

Support bikes

To the editor:

I am writing to voice my strong support for the proposed mountain bike trails in Grand Forest North.

I grew up on Bainbridge Island and spent my formative years exploring every nook and cranny of the island. As I grew, I began exploring the island by bike. When the bike would become too cumbersome I would stash it in the woods and continue by foot. The freedom to ride and explore the place I lived became the catalyst for my pursuit of an athletic career.

After nearly a decade and a half spent traveling the world as a professional cyclist, racing the world’s biggest events, I am convinced that the community support I received and access to trails and safe places to ride were instrumental in my development. Exploring the island’s woods, under my own power, fostered a confidence that serves me to this day. I still regularly train on our island trails and relish in the connection to the place I call home.

The proposed mountain bike trails at the North end of the Grand Forest will expand the riding opportunities our youth (and adults) have on the island at a time when our roads are busier than ever. Bainbridge Parks District has done an incredible job building and maintaining many of our multi-use trails, and the budget for this project can easily be met with fundraising and volunteer efforts (supported by Gear Grinders).

I can assure you that what we have on the island is a unique and special resource. One that we all must work to share and preserve. The value of these trails to our island youth cannot be overestimated. As a parent and pro athlete I utilize these trails nearly everyday. I hope my children will one day be able to say the same.

I ask all of the board members to support this effort. I encourage others on the island who support creating opportunities for kids and islanders of all ages to get outside to let the Parks Board know they also support this, too.

Kiel Reijnen

Bainbridge Island

No bike course

To the editor:

I want to express my concern over the possible development of a Mountain Bike Course in Grand Forest North. I believe construction of such an invasive course would violate the intent of the bond issue passed by voters to preserve and protect forever this critical forest.

When we passed the $5 million bond issue we told voters that the forest would be protected and that it would only see passive use by walkers, equestrians and mountain bikers. A mountain bike course where the competitive high school team has practice and others use the course for jumps and aggressive riding is not passive use.

After we passed the bond issue we negotiated with the Department of Natural Resources over the price. The DNR appraisal was $3 million for the land and $2 million for the timber. We stressed that the forest would be kept 100% natural with no development except for trails and limited unpaved parking. Based on those factors, the DNR agreed to sell the property for $3 million. The parks district, of which I was director from 1980-98, then recalled $2 million worth of the bonds.

I believe that development of a Mountain Bike Course in Grand Forest North is wrong and may well put the district in political and possible legal jeopardy. A better location for a course would be Battle Point Park in the area of the former horse “hunter jumper course”. There is adequate parking and restrooms, and there would be no destruction of an important community asset.

Chuck Field

Bainbridge Island

Stick to balance

To the editor:

I’m the first to admit, I’m a complainer. I complained to the Parks Department when they allowed huge groups of school kids to overwhelm Grand Forest on unannounced days that ended in my ruined commune with quiet nature. I was told the issue was “balance,” and that the kids helped with trails.

I complained when I realized Parks had functionally ceded Manzanita to the horse-folk who stable next door. I complained in the mid-1990s when Parks tried, in the name of balance, to build ballfields and parking lots in “just a corner” of Gazzam (a “nature preserve”), but the misguided effort was overwhelmed by public opposition. I’ve complained about electric bicycle and electric skateboard riders swooping down on me via a blind corner, requiring the riders to lock their wheels to avoid me and my dog.

I make no apologies. I’ve been a paying Parks user for 25 years. My wife and I walk our dog(s) in the parks every day. Our parks are our parks, not the commissioners’ to give away to selected groups.

With that background in place, I’m complaining again – do not let the commissioners sneak in a private biker playground for affluent out-of-area bikers. Contrary to letters implying this is a homegrown effort for local kids and their dads, this project appears spearheaded by www.evergreenmtb.org, a bicycle lobbying group that has been in contact with Dan Hamlin about their doing the project work for more than a year now.

Why are we hearing about it only now? If they win this one, the bikers not only get their new “biker only” part of the Grand Forest, but they still get to run too fast over the rest. They get it all, and the rest of us pay for it, just as happened with the 305 Clearcut Trail the bikers don’t even use. Stop the special interest giveaway – tell the commissioners “no, it’s not OK to give our parks away.” Contact them at biparks.org/board/.

Chris Neal

Fletcher Landing

Expertise shared

To the editor:

We have lived for 32 years on the island and have had instances where we relied heavily on the professionalism and care provided by our wonderful police department. They deserve to be honored and greatly respected. The replacement of their ramshackle and ancient facility down by the ferry dock was needed 30 years ago, when the city incorporated the entire island.

It has been, and is now, the highest priority facility requirement facing city government. We are wasting lots of money and precious time backtracking and second-guessing decisions made long ago. Renovating the old Harrison facility is the fastest and least costly track to achieve our community goals.

As a licensed civil and environmental engineer Patrick has been deeply involved with building green facilities, especially via renovation, since the creation of the LEED standard, which he helped develop in 1993. There is no question that the Harrison facility can be molded into a great and very green building that will support both the police and court functions and do it very admirably and economically.

In most cases green buildings can be built or renovated via projects whose costs are equivalent to, or in some cases less than, those for non-green facilities. The challenge is knowing how to do it.

If you would like help with that process, Patrick is willing to provide his expertise, as a private citizen of this community, to the city, by assisting the council or any committee working on this issue. Obfuscation and inaction in this matter are completely irresponsible and wasteful. Let us work to provide a world-class facility for our world-class police force.

Jeannette and Patrick Vasicek

Bainbridge Island

Fix police station

To the editor:

In response to Gloria Saylor’s March 26 letter, I agree. No one should have to work in any facility that is deemed dangerous. So yes let’s not wait. Let’s temporarily house the police, right now, somewhere safer and then let’s remodel the current police station. Let’s build it out, bring it up to date and make it safe. This will be quicker and more cost effective.

And, if as a community, we equally care about prevention of crime and support for victims and their families we can use the 17,500-square-foot Harrison building to support these things. We can offer free counseling to victims and their families, a shelter for those trying to escape domestic violence, drug and alcohol prevention programs, mental health counseling, etc. Maybe even a better drivers education program.

Gloria stated that she was appalled that the police have to return to a dilapidated building to report their work after witnessing tragedies. What’s more appalling is that these tragedies happen in the first place and that the victims and their families don’t always get the support they need. We as a community have the opportunity to help with all three of these issues. A safer police building, care for victims and their families, and the prevention of future tragedies.

There are so many people on this island who are thinking creatively on how we can imagine a better future, and we would do well to listen to what they have to say.

Let’s not have a disaster, like Texas. Instead let’s do all that we can to prevent future tragedies.

Carol Carley

Bainbridge Island

Center a star

To the editor:

The Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center applauds the community in its efforts in addressing the COVID-19 pandemic. It has been a team effort that has resulted in over 80% of BI seniors over the age of 65 having received the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine.

The Senior Center is proud to have been a part of the effort, partnering with Island Volunteer Caregivers, COBI, Bainbridge Prepares, BI Community Pharmacy and the BI Fire Department. The Senior Center served as the primary clinic on Bainbridge during the early days of the vaccination effort. We also have done our best to be one of the leading local places islanders have got to find resources and information about COVID. Every weekday our phones have been busy, with volunteers handling hundreds of calls on everything from who is eligible for a vaccination and where to get them to how to get a vaccination reservation if you don’t have a computer or smartphone.

Mark Jowett Tan, the owner of BI Community Pharmacy, told us that “having the Senior Center as the venue for COVID-19 vaccination clinics has been a blessing. Reed and the rest of the staff made sure that those with the greatest need but with the least resources are accommodated. As BISCC president I have no doubt the Senior Center is one of the main reasons why we are leading the county in vaccinating the elder population…It shows what we can accomplish when the whole community works together.”

Our board of directors recognizes the hard work that our staff and volunteers have made. Despite the pandemic shutdown, we have found ways to keep offering modified programs and services to over 1,500 community members. Like so many other community groups and businesses, we are looking forward to welcoming everyone back to in-person activities, and plan to do so gradually and safely. The center has, and will, continue to serve as a valuable resource—a “go-to” for information, tools and support that focuses on seniors, but benefits the entire community.

Bill Luria

Bainbridge Island

What’s up?

To the editor:

Pandemic is over. Shootings begin.

PJ McEwan

Bainbridge Island

Pass HR1

Dear editor,

We need our president and Congressional representatives to accurately represent all of us. We need to fix our electoral system. We need to know where presidents’, senators’ and representatives’ campaign money comes from so that special interests are not steering their votes. We need to mandate seeing our presidents’ tax returns to see their business interests. We need funding to have more secure elections – to keep up with technology. Let’s stop states making it harder for people to vote – or making it harder for their vote to count – through voter suppression and gerrymandering.

We have the polarization in Congress. Democrats have legislation popular with the public. Republican members of Congress are against it – because if people benefit it would make Republicans look bad, and they wouldn’t get voted in again. They are suppressing the votes of people of color – they don’t want people of color represented because they do not have a platform that they like. This has to stop.

People want to repair the aging West Seattle bridge – and trains so our cities grow without traffic getting worse. We want to be able to breathe clean air and drink clean water.

HR1, the “For the People Act”, fixes these problems. We need it passed to have fair elections. The House passed it in 2020. It is down to the Senate. Contact our members of Congress and ask that the bill is passed as soon as possible. Without it passing, our voices are lost.

Holly Brewer

Bainbridge Island

Stand against hate

The Kitsap Economic Development Alliance (“KEDA”) stands with the Asian American Pacific Islander (“AAPI”) community in the wake of continued rises in hate crimes, including this week’s attack on a 65-year-old Asian American woman in New York City, and the recent targeted killings of eight at Asian-owned businesses in Atlanta. In Kitsap, Asians, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders make up the second-largest nonwhite demographic (6.4%), after the Latinx (8.2%) community.

For most of last year, Washington state ranked third nationally in hate incidents reported to the nonprofit Stop AAPI Hate. While Washington’s numbers greatly trail the two leading states of California and New York, Washington’s reported AAPI hate incidents (at 158) were 50 percent higher than the fourth most, Texas (at 103).

Per the organization, hate incidents and crimes against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders occur in broad daylight and in public. 70 percent of the time they occur in businesses, on a public street or in a public park. This week’s attack in Manhattan occurred on West 43rd. Reportedly, several passersby did nothing, and doormen closed their building’s doors in its aftermath.

The United States continues to struggle with racism. As economic developers, we identify that core to our role is to advocate for equity of opportunity for our entire community, including AAPI people.

KEDA will continue to increase efforts to include our entire community in the economic development conversation. What this will look like: Working harder to make Asian American Pacific Islander and other people of color-owned businesses aware of COVID grant and financial relief opportunities available to them, such as the state’s $240 million Working Washington 4 program (www.commercegrants.com) and the SBA’s Payroll Protection Program.

Long-term, we will continue to operate our community-driven Diversity, Equity and Inclusion task force and bring a lens valuing diversity and focused on inclusion in all our work.

It is disheartening we write a letter of solidarity for the AAPI community just nine months after our first such letter, issued in the wake of the murder of George Floyd. At KEDA and in Kitsap, we ask our investor members, public and private employers, and all community institutions to both condemn and dismantle racism when encountered, and to amplify efforts to be inclusive of all demographics in their programs and conversations.

Only then can we begin to see our way toward equity of opportunity, regardless of one’s racial or cultural background.

Nathan Evans, chair, KEDA Board of Directors

Joe Morrison, executive director, Kitsap Economic Development Alliance

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