Parks may take another look at planning for Sakai Park

It looks like the Bainbridge Island Metro Parks & Recreation District will again take a look at planning for Sakai Park.

During public comments at their last meeting, Adam Hunt said that he has made a public records request regarding Sakai because he is seeking to understand the status of its planning process, which seems to have been abandoned.

Parks commissioner Jay Kinney said that in April of 2019, a capital cost summary was issued for the Sakai Park concept plan. The total cost was $35 million—$22 million for the field house and site work was $4.3 million. The Park District’s budget is done in the fall, and there is about $1.1 million allocated for capital improvement projects each year. Development at Sakai has not been addressed because a bond would need to be passed to fund it, he said.

Before a bond can be passed design needs to be concluded, and construction documents and permitting need to be addressed. In fall of 2019, the board was working on the comprehensive plan and a commissioner resigned. The COVID-19 pandemic also put a stop to many projects.

The opportunity to purchase the BI Recreation Center came up in 2021, which spoke to a lot of the needs addressed by the Sakai Park concept plan, he said. Since then, the board has not looked at building anything at Sakai.

Hunt said there is already a concept plan and years of public input.

Later in the meeting, Kinney said the pickleball community is using the tennis courts at Battle Point Park quite a bit. The tennis community has been asking for two tennis courts at Sakai Park since about 2018, and he is now in favor of that.

Commissioner Ken DeWitt said it is good timing because there has been talk about reactivating the planning for Sakai. Commissioner Dawn Janow said there needs to be a comprehensive look at the park before a parcel is committed and that community engagement is important.

STO trail

Also at the meeting, BI city engineer Peter Corelis said there will be about seven miles of the Sound to Olympics Trail on BI, one mile of which has been completed. The consultant firm Parametrix is working on the planning level/conceptual alignments from Madison Avenue to Agate Pass and a 20% design from the Sakai Park connector to Madison Avenue.

Challenges along the corridor include critical areas, slopes, fish barrier culverts, right-of-way easements, vegetation and roadside buffers. Opportunities include cross-island trail connectivity, transit stops, state Department of Transportation projects, parklands and attention to creating a park-like experience away from highway noise.

Janow asked if the existing trail on the west side of Sakai pond would be changed and enlarged or if there would be an additional trail. Corelis said that option would use the existing trail. Commissioner Tom Swolgaard said there was concern about opening the park to the highway by taking trees down on the east side of the pond. Kinney said the trees are also a noise barrier. Park Services Division director Dan Hamlin said it is laid out to preserve as many trees as possible.

DeWitt asked about the status of the STO along Meigs Park. Corelis said that the Murden Creek bridge was planned to accommodate the STO on the west side of the highway.

Staff reports

Recreation superintendent Bryan Garoutte said there are 89 kids and 64 tiny tots signed up for soccer. The summer recreation catalog is viewable online, and summer registration will start April 29 at 9:30 a.m.

Hamlin said that the BI Parks & Trails Foundation has been working on a trail easement with Bloedel Reserve. The trail would connect West Port Madison Road to Dolphin Drive. DeWitt said the proposal was on one of the early Trails Advisory Committee plans in 1994 and that sometimes it takes a long time and the right people to get things moving.

Hamlin said the hazardous trees at Hidden Cove Park have been taken down. Executive director Terry Lande said trees were topped 40 years ago, which caused them to grow multiple tops. Once they were felled the arborist confirmed there was rot in them.

Fort Ward

Hamlin said the agreement with the BI Parks & Trails Foundation is for the formation of a committee to work on fundraising and development for the playground on the Fort Ward Parade Grounds. Hamlin said staff has developed a site plan and is preparing to submit the permit soon.

Grand Forest

Hamlin said there are 11-13 trees that will have to be removed, some of which are substantial and will require the permitting process. Hamlin said there would be 12 parking spots and room for further expansion.

Emergency hub

Park Services superintendent David Harry said city and parks staff have been working on this agreement for years. Hubs provide limited gap-filling emergency services during a disaster. There are 13 on the island, six of which are on park district property. The Hidden Cove Park dock is a particularly important asset during a disaster as it is the newest and best dock facility on the Kitsap County side of BI, he said.