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I spent a recent weekend on the seashore in Westport, Wash. It’s easy to forget the allure of the pure Pacific Ocean, living here on Bainbridge Island on a salt water sound, or bay or harbor or canal.
By renovating the old and building anew, Bill Nelson and other business people have embarked on a plan that may eventually turn Lynwood Center into a bustling community village (see page 5). It’s an ambitious endeavor, especially considering today’s economy. If successful, there will be a huge impact on the island’s south end as it is transformed into the first full-service commercial center outside of Winslow.
Picking Blackberries yesterday and falling into the brambles, I thought of the mighty effort I had taken for a blackberry pie.
As fortunate as we are to live on this beautiful island, Bainbridge isn’t immune from national economic downturns. And as taxpayers we aren’t immune from the fear that local government will run up excessive debt, as the federal government has over the past eight years.
The other day I helped my son Adam move into the house he will be occupying this year with six other Gonzaga University sophomores, and the experience was an interesting case study in nonlinear behavior. By way of example, if you or I bought a bookshelf kit and brought it home and emptied the contents of the kit on our living room floors, we would probably feel inclined to put the kit together to get it out of the middle of our living room floor. We might even fill the bookcase with books, which, presumably, is the reason we bought the thing in the first place. I learned last week that neither my son nor any of his roommates are afflicted with such traditional notions of linear behavior.
More than 100 island property owners attended an event Saturday featuring Kitsap County Assessor Jim Avery, who explained why the county’s latest land assessments took what many considered to be astronomical increases over the previous year. The emotions of those attending the meeting at the Commons generally ranged from angry to frustrated or to just plain confused.
Balgue, Aug. 2, 10:45 a.m.
For 11 years, Judy Hartstone has been the driving force behind PAWS (Progressive Animal Welfare Society), the nonprofit organization that is a savior for Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap cats and dogs in need. Unfortunately, she’ll be leaving her job as executive director and the island later this year for a destination yet to be determined. She’s calling it a sabbatical.
(On Aug. 27) the mayor and her City Council came together and plunged the city $1.7 million further into debt. Prior to the council’s vote, many members of the public, including several financial experts, urged the city to reduce its expenses rather than issue more debt. The council ignored the community’s concerns and immediately voted to increase the amount of debt requested by the mayor. After months of divided votes on budget issues, the council was united in its thirst for more money no matter what the cost.
Many of us who live on the island are being affected by rapid cost of living increases for food, gasoline and utilities. Given this added pressure to our household budgets, one would think that Bainbridge Island’s city administration would promote a capital facilities plan that would take those increases into consideration. For example, as part of a pragmatic approach to allocating limited revenue dollars to maintain city services, our Public Works Department could repair the two sections of Winslow Way sewer pipes that are leaking, rather than replacing them. Fix the leaking pipes, yes; buy all new pipes, no.
Only on Bainbridge Island? Well, not necessarily, but the island seems to be a breeding ground for people who get involved in community service. Learning to care for others and to give back to community is an extremely rewarding endeavor, especially if the recipient is young and impressionable. Take, for example, the experience of Maria Mason and her son, Adrian, islanders who have enriched the lives of impoverished youth in the West African nation of Togo, simply by providing them bicycles.
In Cambodia, during the Khmer Rouge regime of the late ‘70s and ‘80s, life was cheap. A young couple with two toddlers were sent as slaves to the rice fields, along with many others, and labored each day as part of the government efforts to rebuild the country’s eleventh century system of food production. Life was hard.
Ah, democracy in action.
Whether a person is sitting in the City Council chambers or watching BITV at home in an easy chair, catching the vibes and barbs emanating these days to and from council members, the mayor and administrators in attendance is akin to viewing the last acts of the current Bush Administration. Hands over eyes, painfully peeking through fingers because you’ve got to see what happens next.
Faced with the most severe financial crisis in city history, city administration is recommending taking out the credit card instead of making permanent cuts in city operating costs. This creative amalgamation of head in the sand with your finger in the dike approach has nothing going for it except long-term negative consequences for the community. There is no plan, only pleading for cash to tide them over until they can make a plan.
Let’s take a return trip to the Bainbridge Island Health, Housing and Human Services needs assessment report for 2007-2008. Other than emphasizing that there is a shortage of affordable housing for families and seniors to rent or buy, the survey of agencies and providers revealed that there continues to be a large gap between the services accessible to low-income residents when compared to most islanders.
And then, not expecting it, you become middle-aged and anonymous. No one notices you. You achieve a wonderful freedom.
Most of us care deeply about the welfare and futures of our community’s youth. We want ours to be a community where young people receive the attention, respect, opportunities and supportive relationships they need to be happy and grow up healthy, caring and responsible.
I am a studio furniture maker. Four months ago I began working on an ark for a synagogue. I was shaking with excitement that morning, ready to begin this long-anticipated project. In the first few minutes, I completely severed all four fingers on my dominant hand just above the knuckles closest to my palm. I fell to my knees and began to weep, not out of the pain and horror of the accident but from the fear that I was finished as an artist. That instant was a big bang of sorts, exploding into my reality a new universe of possibilities.