BI parks could make money from cell tower

The Bainbridge Island Metro Parks and Recreation District is looking at buying out AT&T’s cell tower lease at the Battle Point Park water tower.

Park Services Division director Dan Hamlin said several offers have been received over the years. Unison has proposed to lease the cell tower from the district for one lump sum payment or 10 equal installments over either 15- or 30-year periods.

Unison would increase the lease footprint below the water tower by 300 square feet and add its own apparatus, and the district would receive 65% of the profits of any new customers Unison brings on.

Commissioner Dawn Janow said it would be important to know how much additional revenue would be earned, while Commissioner Jay Kinney said the only reason to do it would be to pay for a Capital Improvement Fund project, and that it is no different than getting a loan.

Executive director Terry Lande said staff has more work to do before making a recommendation and noted that this offer is not going to go away.

Meanwhile, minutes from the district’s most recent meeting report that Administrative Division director Amy Swenson said the 2020-21 audit conference was held. The state auditor’s office reports that it received a hotline complaint about park employees receiving a free pass to the BI Recreation Center, and it will investigate it as a gift of public funds. It also said another complaint about the purchase of intangible property in regard to the purchase of BIRC is not within its jurisdiction.

Recreation Division director Mark Benishek said that staff opened two additional classes in response to demand for after-school robotics. He commended staff for its work to move as many patrons as possible off waitlists and into programs by expanding class sizes or adding sections.

Also, Denise Stoughton has met with the BI Historical Society, which has agreed to archive letters received by the proposed Kindred Spirit Mailbox, and there is a volunteer to build the structure. Location will be the next discussion if the board decides to move forward with the project.

The commission also passed a resolution that condemns some property near Strawberry Hill Park at 7686 High School Road through eminent domain. It “will improve the public health and safety of the community by providing the general public with more parkland and attendant recreation opportunities,” it says.

Lande said the Forest Park restroom was to be installed recently. It also was reported that the Martin Luther King Jr Day of Service event had about 175 participants.

Public comments

Nikos Spiliopoulos is concerned about the location of the restroom being installed at the Marshall Road entrance to Gazzam Lake Nature Preserve. Terry Resnik said that the two locations marked for the restroom at the preserve are not good. Lande said the restroom that will be put in at the Marshall Road entrance to the preserve will be within park boundaries.

Also, Clay Roberts supports repurposing the shared tennis courts at Battle Point Park to pickleball courts and building an additional tennis court at Strawberry Hill Park. And Emma Cameron spoke in support of expanding the days and hours for Kids Club at BIRC.