Bainbridge is an island, but it doesn’t need to act that way when it comes to making decisions.
“We need to take a broader view that’s not just an island view,” City Councilmember Leslie Schneider said at the Nov. 14 meeting.
She was talking about a comment from fellow Councilmember Clarence Moriwaki, who said a presentation from the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance did not include much about BI. Moriwaki was dead set against increasing a request for more funding from BI for KEDA.
Even though the council made decisions costing millions of dollars on the budget and other issues that night, it delayed a KEDA request for $10,000 more a year because two members were not present. The council decided not to make a decision until Nov. 28 because Mayor Brenda Fantroy-Johnson and deputy mayor Kirsten Hytopoulos were absent.
BI already contributes $10,000 a year to KEDA, and it was asking for that to be increased to $20,000. KEDA actually was requesting that amount for five years, but Councilmember Joe Deets suggested a compromise of spending $20,000 for one year.
Moriwaki actually questioned giving KEDA any money because it did not answer questions he brought up at a previous meeting—either then or since then. He said if it was a performance review they didn’t follow through so they should not get a raise.
Moriwaki also said a study KEDA mentioned at the other meeting did not mention the BI school district, which is the largest employer on BI. “It was pretty sloppy,” he said of the presentation.
He also said the presentation was very Bremerton-centric and didn’t contain much about BI.
Agreeing with Schneider, Councilmember Jon Quitslund said it’s important for BI’s future to connect to the West Sound. It doesn’t make sense “to cut ties or be standoffish at this point,” he said.
Councilmember Joe Deets added, “We are part of Kitsap” and what happens elsewhere affects us to some degree.
Schneider and Quitslund said there are issues, such as lack of health care and economic development, that are important to all of Kitsap County.
Quitslund said it’s important for Kitsap to bring more clinics here so people don’t have to take such long drives for treatment. And he said BI needs to be more creative about economic development and include that in the Comprehensive Plan.
Schneider said business retention is important for BI. She would like to know why businesses leave, and if there was anything government could have done to keep them here.
Councilmember Michael Pollock said he would support the $20,000 for one year, but not for five. He also said there was no performance standard and nothing about what KEDA would do with the money.
Moriwaki pointed out that his comments were directed at KEDA, and he was not saying BI should not look at the bigger picture of being part of the county.
Patty Charnas, city planning director, gave the council an update on the Winslow Subarea and Comprehensive plans. She said they are being worked on together. What ends up being in Winslow will determine what needs to be in the Comp Plan for the rest of the island.
She said for the first time in 20 years there will be an environmental impact statement done for BI, and this time it will integrate the two plans. The EIS will explain how population growth, housing, transportation and other plans will impact the environment.
Charnas said locals have been very involved in the process, with 2,000 public comments and 400 attending fall engagement events.
Three draft alternatives have been developed: Don’t change anything; build taller buildings in Winslow; or expand the area in Winslow where density can increase to the north and west where sewer exists.
She said BI likely will go beyond the state due date, but that the council has directed them not to worry about the time and focus on doing each step of the process right before moving on.
Quitslund said he would like to see duplexes instead of just single-family homes outside of Winslow and the three Neighborhood Centers of Rolling Bay, Island Center and Lynwood Center. He said that would not have much of a different impact on the environment.
Schneider summed up the discussion by saying, “The main driver is growth going up or out, and what’s left over will be accommodated by the Comp Plan islandwide.”
Regarding budget modifications, city finance director DeWayne Pitts showed a PowerPoint that says $8.5 million more is being requested.
Reserves will decrease $2.3 million, but the $13.4 million left would still cover eight months of operating expenses. Pitts says that level of spending can’t continue as taxes and fees will need to be raised or spending cut in upcoming years.