Bainbridge has a big foot.
At least when it comes to solid waste.
BI has worked in many areas to shrink its environmental footprint. But solid waste has been neglected.
That’s what city manager Blair King informed the City Council at last week’s meeting.
“It’s so in conflict with our values,” Councilmember Kirsten Hytopoulos said. “We need to clean up our act.”
Councilmember Leslie Schneider added: “Biosolids are trucked off the island. That adds to our footprint.”
The council eventually decided to spend up to $30,000 for experts to evaluate BI’s process to see how it could be improved. Potential changes could include mandatory solid waste and recycling for residents.
King said BI is the only city in Kitsap County that does not require recycling. He said that decision was made in 1991 when BI first became a city, and it was “too hard” to include that among everything else it had to do. So the city does not manage its own waste. He added the “importance of waste has grown” over the last 30 years. King said on most other issues the city has been “more proactive” in reducing waste that goes to the landfill.
In a related matter, and what actually got BI to look at its process, the council discussed buying a biodigester and establishing a Food Waste Anaerobic Digestion Facility.
King said that according to the Washington Municipal Research and Services Center, food waste is a significant emitter of greenhouse gases. “If food waste were a country, it would be the third-largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world,” his memo to the council says.
Anaerobic Digestion is a natural process in which microorganisms break down organic materials typically in a system closed to air or oxygen to produce a usable product, for example, natural gas.
Such a facility may not work right now on BI because recycling is voluntary, and the city does not control the waste stream. But if that changes, the city has property at a transfer facility off Vincent Road that could potentially be used as an Anaerobic Digestion Facility. There are 30 acres there, 10 acres are cleared, and 6 acres were a former landfill. There are some private companies interested in operating such a facility.
King said BI has important climate action goals – such as reducing greenhouse emissions 25% by 2025 from 2014 standards. He said the city’s numbers have actually increased since then. So something should be done. Such a facility is not the only option, King said. An Anaerobic composting facility could produce soil manure, for example. That’s why the evaluation is needed, he concluded.
The council also discussed the lack of health care on BI since Swedish Health Services closed its primary care clinic last May. It left about 8,000 patients without care.
About 25% of them have been able to transfer to the Virginia Mason Franciscan Health BI clinic and Pacifica Medicine in Poulsbo, a memo from Anne LeSage, Emergency Management coordinator, to King says.
The City Council asked King to have staff look into the issue.
BI, Kitsap County and the state are federally designated health care shortage areas. BI has three healthcare providers left.
Virginia Mason has a waitlist for new patients, MemberPlus Family Health is accepting new patients but is membership-based, and Bainbridge Pediatrics is accepting new children patients. Clinic space left by Swedish remains vacant.
LeSage’s memo says to increase the number of health care providers the city could consider adding health care recruitment as a focus for outside providers such as the Kitsap Economic Development Association, the BI Downtown Association and the BI Chamber of Commerce.
Mayor Joe Deets said it’s “a very concerning issue for us” and elsewhere in Poulsbo and North Kitsap.
King said he would be more proactive and come up with a resolution the council could adopt.
“Why not us.”
That quote made famous by Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson a few years ago also could apply to how Bainbridge feels about the Kitsap Public Facilities District.
Russ Shiplet, executive director of the district, and Tom Bullock, who represents BI on its board, spoke to the council.
Shiplet said county sales taxes are used to help fund the projects. In a PowerPoint, he showed examples of almost $244,000 for the Poulsbo Recreation and Events Center and almost $1.7 million for a trails project at Heritage Park in North Kitsap.
Councilmember Michael Pollock asked why none of the four projects picked is in BI. He asked if the distribution of funds should have a geographic aspect.
“I pushed hard to get this money allocated here,” such as for a new pool, Bullock said. Since this area did not get funding this time, “I hope it would bode well for Bainbridge in the future.”
Shiplet said the funding mechanism is in place until 2041. “We want to share the wealth as much as we can,” he said.
All of the public comments had to deal with the city’s Sustainable Transportation Plan, which was discussed the week before.
Fran Korten, like all the other callers, supported option 2, which was the medium-priced one. She likes it because “quality routes connect neighborhoods.” Korten said once those are built people will want to expand the project. She wanted to see more off-road projects, a citizen commission for input and the Sound To Olympic trail built into every document so it would be eligible for state and federal funds.
Susan Loftus said she supports routes with maximum separation from traffic. She also said the plan lacks multimodel facets that can receive funding from elsewhere. “If we don’t take advantage, that’s on us,” she said.
Kate March said she likes option 2 because it’s for all ages and abilities.
Heather Fredrickson said maximum separation is a must. She said she was riding her bike with her daughter on back when she had to get out of the bike lane because garbage cans were in it. She said a motorist drove up next to her and screamed at them. “I did not feel safe,” Frederickson said.
Laura Marshall said she is not a cyclist but wants to be. “A broad flock of our community” wants to ride, she said. They want to convert to bike riding to help with BI’s climate action goals. “But we need to feel safe,” she said, adding more off-road trails are needed in the plan.