Pickleball group wants to build roof over courts

A pickleball group wants exclusive use of the tennis courts at Battle Point Park, and it wants to build a roof so they can play in winter.

Bainbridge Island Metro Parks & Recreation District Commissioner Jay Kinney announced that at a recent board meeting.

Kinney said many things would have to happen before something like that would even be considered.

First, two tennis courts would have to be built somewhere else. District executive director Terry Lande said he has talked to a tennis group about building two new courts at Strawberry Hill Park.

Also, Kinney told the pickleball group it would have to present formal plans on how it would make that work, including paying for improvements and covering annual operating costs.

The commissioners also talked about the budget at the meeting.

Amy Swenson, Administrative Division director, said the general fund will have a deficit in the next cycle, but will still maintain a reserve of $3.6 million, which allows for flexibility, Commissioner Ken DeWitt said. A $1 million grant for Sakai Park that has not been spent yet is part of that.

A major cost increase in the budget is parks plans to offer $600 toward spouse and dependent health care premiums, up from $150. That could cost up to $100,000, depending on the number of employees who decide on that option. Also in the budget, a 7% cost of living adjustment is planned to help retain staff.

There will be a $400,000 surplus at the Bainbridge Island Recreation Center, so staff has budgeted upgrades to the facility. Lande did say, however, that 300 more people will need to join the club over the next three years to make the principal payment.

Commissioner Tom Goodlin wondered if anyone else is concerned about spending $2 million on turf at Strawberry Hill Park when there are other financial concerns, such as replacement of the pool at the Aquatic Center. Kinney said a bond will be needed for the pool no matter what.

Mark Benishek, Recreation Division director, said 120 kids participated in the recent Explorer Camp. He added the second session of fall swim lessons are full. And the last week of December there will be a large tennis tournament. Lande said about 2,000 people participated in the Haunted Hayride. He added that the sail float in Eagle Harbor is set to be replaced in 2024. Dan Hamlin, Park Services Division director, said the city has been notified that the parks district is withdrawing its plan for Sakai Park. Commissioner Dawn Janow said parks needs to support youth and families on BI because they are being marginalized, and there has been too much loss on BI in the last few years.

In regular public comments on other issues:

•Robert Weschler asked if parks would contact Kitsap Transit to see if it could provide public transportation to BIRC because as of now it’s only accessible to people with cars.

•Denise Stoughton asked about making a mailbox available at one of the parks to encourage people to write their thoughts, feelings, hopes and dreams to share the human experience.