BI hopes for federal funds to help with STO Trail

The Bainbridge Island City Council likely will approve city manager Blair King to apply for a $2 million federal grant at the April 23 meeting.

The money would pay for design of the Sakai Pond and Coppertop segments of the Sound to Olympics Trail. It will look at how to pay for the $500,000 local portion if the grant is received.

Two options are mentioned in a city memo. The local funds could come from reducing monies in the non-motorized transportation project budget. The two projects listed are Lynwood Center Road and Bucklin Hill. The other option is to increase revenue in the Transportation Benefit District. That could be done by raising the city sales tax from 9.2% to 9.3% or by raising vehicle license fees from $40 to $50.

The STO trail of 40 miles would connect Winslow to the Olympic Discovery Trail in Jefferson County and be part of the Great American Rail Trail connecting over 3,700 miles from the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The BI part would go mostly along Highway 305 from the ferry terminal 6.6 miles to Agate Pass Bridge.

The council will discuss its farming program. The city owns about 60 acres of farmland across seven parcels. The fee-ownership properties were acquired to stop the loss of productive farmland and to promote healthy farming practices in 2006. The lands are managed for the city by nonprofit Friends of the Farms.

The city took action in December to terminate the lease. But a new five-year agreement would allow Friends to continue the arrangement on three properties. A community garden and intern housing will be at Morales Farm. On Johnson farm there will be an orchard and a P-Patch. And on the M&E property there will be a native food forest, sheds and information signs. At both Johnson and M&E there will be educational programming and community events.

Deputy mayor Jon Quitslund plans to ask to expand the multi-family tax exemption program. It gives incentives for building affordable housing by exempting such projects from property taxes. He would like to see a project at Finch Green receive such a benefit, but it is just outside the approved area. If OK’d, it would lower development costs $600,000, which could make it an even more affordable project.

The council plans to talk about a six-month ban on crematoriums as the issue is researched by city staff. Such a business is not in city code, but there is interest in bringing one to BI, however neighbors have objected. A public hearing will take place as part of the process.

Since the Historic Preservation Commission resigned en masse recently because it was ignored by the city in the process of demolishing the old police station, BI will discuss transferring some of those responsibilities at least temporarily to the Planning Commission.

BI’s first lobbyist Briahna Murray will give a briefing of the legislative session. BI priorities included $200,000 for a water line to the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial; Affordable and Workforce Housing; Planning for Growth; and Reliable Ferry Service.

It will continue work on the Groundwater Management Plan and confirm appointments to the Planning Commission. It will receive its monthly update on the Comprehensive and Winslow Subarea plans.

In the consent agenda: $278,400 is set for road striping; King is authorized to sign the Wintergreen Multifamily Tax Exemption contract; and a contract will be signed for a performance evaluation for King. Also on that agenda is to approve content for Winslow Way Decorative Displays. The BI Downtown Association has five: Bainbridge is Love Jan. 15-March 15; Bainbridge is Blooming March 15-June 1; Celebrate Bainbridge June 1-Aug. 1; Hometown Halloween Oct. 15-Nov. 1; and Bainbridge is Joy/Stars and Scrolls Nov. 15-Jan. 15.

Proclamations planned include: National Poetry Month, National Therapy Animal Day April 30 and Arbor Day April 26.