Bainbridge Parks never said it would never put lights at Battle Point Park, as some opponents are saying now.
In an email, parks Commissioner Ken DeWitt said when they approved rebuilding the fields into turf in 2005 that was not promised.
We “did not prohibit the possibility of the fields being lighted at some point in the future,” DeWitt says in an email. “The reasoning was that changes in the island’s demography and needs would change and that it would irresponsible for a current board to tie the hands of a future Board of Commissioners.”
He added that the new request for the lights by the Bainbridge Island Football Club was “totally appropriate” considering all the changes that have taken place since 2005. Demand for field use has increased considerably.
“We would be shirking our duty if we approve or reject the proposal without proper consideration,” he said.
DeWitt was responding to a letter to the commissioners from Frank Petrie, president of The Battle Point Astronomical Association board of directors.
He said their board “strenuously objects” to the lighting proposal.
“Although we support youth and adult athletics on Bainbridge Island, we cannot support nighttime lighting at Battle Point Park,” Petrie’s letter states. “Light pollution is the enemy of astronomy.”
Such lighting would “seriously degrade the quality of the observing conditions necessary for the community to use and enjoy the Edwin E. Ritchie Telescope, other telescopes or even naked-eye observing of celestial events at the park,” he adds.
The association’s mission to develop interest in science via astronomy would be damaged and may render the facility’s renovation plans pointless if lights were put in. The long-term effect would be the loss of the Ritchie Telescope, which is the largest publicly accessible telescope in the Northwest, he says.
At the parks board meeting last week, three people spoke against the lights during the public comment period. They suggested the parks board meet with the local neighborhood group, the Battle Point Alliance, to discuss the issue.
Ted Bennett, who has lived in the area about 30 years, said bringing so many cars to the residential area at night would bring safety concerns.
Michele Bombardier, who has also lived there about 30 years, said neighbors only agreed to the turf fields going in after a compromise that there would be no lights.
Betsy Daniels also mentioned the observatory and overcrowding and noise, along with it overburdening area water wells and septic systems.