Pail in comparison of BI organic waste, garbage

Bainbridge Island residents will be able to participate in a program to reduce organic waste in landfills.

City manager Blair King said the hope is that the pilot project is successful so the entire city could eventually be involved.

To start with, 100 volunteers are being sought for the 12-week program. Participants will be given a pail to put their organic waste in. They will keep a diary about their efforts.

The test group will provide baseline data of how much goes into the organic container and how much is garbage. From that the city can extrapolate how much organic material could be diverted from landfills.

A $50,000 Ecology grant is paying for the project.

Groundwater plan

Also at the March 12 council meeting, Public Works director Chris Wierzbicki gave the council what he said will be a monthly update on the Groundwater Management Plan.

“This is critical work,” Mayor Joe Deets said, adding that when it’s done he will make a formal request to pass “water conservation measures” for city residents. He said even the best science won’t provide the certainty needed on if BI will have a big enough groundwater supply. “We know it’s going to be under strain due to growth.” But the council will need to take action to develop strategies on the certainties.

Councilmember Kirsten Hytopoulos said they are planning ahead 20 years, but the city really should be looking beyond that. I think BI will be asked to take as “much population as we possibly can from here on out.” She said now is the time to figure out what the limit is for BI’s groundwater system.

Wierzbicki said the city can’t answer every question because there isn’t enough data. He said the plan needs to be ongoing to improve its accuracy and needs to include things like private wells. “We need to continue to improve the plan all the time,” he said.

In their previous discussion on the topic, Wierzbicki said he wished BI had a “one-water” plan. Deputy Mayor Jon Quitslund said he Googled that term and found out that means taking water into account in all aspects of government. He said it’s an integrated partnership between water resources and land use planners.

“There’s a lot we could do conceptually,” he said, adding it should be part of the current Comprehensive Plan process for BI. He said city staff and the community need to think about water holistically. Quitslund said “one water” has been around for 10 years, and while BI has talked about it, the city needs to get deeper into it.

Wierzbicki replied that BI is as “close as it’s ever been” to having a “one-water” system because it finally has enough information to see how the different water systems influence each other. He said most governments that have the system are much larger with more resources.

Federal lawmaker

Also, U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer talked through Zoom at the meeting, thanking the city for its partnerships in getting things done for the area at the federal level.

Kilmer, who did not run for re-election, said he wants to get more done in his 9 1/2 months left in office. He emphasized that when the federal government provides funds local taxpayers don’t have to pay all the costs, such as for trails, improving culverts to help salmon and adding a Visitors Center to the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial.

He mentioned that BI, environmentalists and tribes played a key role in the Puget Sound recovery program. He said they all worked together to make the area’s “most iconic body of water a priority for the federal government.” He also pointed out that BI is on “the cutting edge fighting against climate change.”

In return, the council thanked Kilmer for his work.

“You’re the most accessible, real, engaged representative we’ve had the pleasure of having,” Hytopoulos said.

Deets said: “You’re going to be missed. You must have more hours in the day than the rest of us.”

“Your accessibility has been remarkable,” Councilmember Leslie Schneider said, adding he even showed up at her business once.

Councilmember Ashley Mathews said that he worked so closely with them, he was “an extension of us.”

Kilmer’s a reminder “of just how close we are to the other Washington” even though it’s on the other side of the country, Quitslund said.

Councilmember Brenda Fantroy-Johnson added she appreciated how he was able to “push things through at the last minute.”

And Councilmember Clarence Moriwaki said he appreciated that Kilmer was a problem-solver, along with his friendship and leadership. Moriwaki and Kilmer both recalled the efforts it took to add the word “Exclusion” to the Japanese American Memorial. “It took an act of Congress to change one word,” Moriwaki said. Kilmer said that was the first bill he passed, in 2014.

Paper of record

The hometown Bainbridge Island Review has been the paper of record for the city for decades, but Bremerton’s Kitsap Sun is now.

King said the Reviews deadlines have changed a lot over the past two years. However, during negotiations, newspaper general manager Pili Linares extended them until 9 a.m. Wednesdays, the latest they have ever been. King said staff “could live with that,” but the city wanted a 5 p.m. deadline. However, the paper is printed that day at 2 p.m. so that would be impossible, Linares said.

King also said the Review’s costs are more than the Sun’s and the other possibility, the Seattle Times. But Linares said that is not true, plus it would be willing to negotiate price.

The Sun prints six days a week and the Times seven. Both need two or three days advance notice to run legal ads, which the Review matched with its last offer. King mentioned other local agencies use those other papers.

With the Review’s previous deadline, it took 10 days for the ads to appear in the paper, which worked for the city for many years, apparently. King did not mention any specific problems ever caused by that time delay.

With the new proposed deadline, King said the legals would have to be prepared in advance. If the council changed its mind, King was worried about the potential for error and putting added pressure on staff.

As for no longer supporting the hometown paper, Deets expressed concern about a possible error, while Hytopoulos said, “It doesn’t feel right for staff to have to bend over backwards.”