With over 6 million people crossing annually, the southeast corner of Winslow Way and Olympic Drive (Hwy 305) up from the ferry is the busiest—and many would say ugliest—intersections in Kitsap County. Starting this week, however, this much-bemoaned eyesore will be transformed into an inviting green space gateway called Waypoint.
The Waypoint project kicks off this Thursday with a formal ground-breaking event at 11:30 a.m. The actual construction work is scheduled to begin the following Monday, October 1. Waypoint Steering Committee member Shannon Evans told me the project is expected to take about three months, depending on the weather.
Environmental restrictions long prevented traditional development on the site because of deep gasoline deposits in the ground left by the Unocal Station that operated there until the 1980s. Widely regarded as a disgraceful introduction to Bainbridge and the Olympic corridor, the spot was targeted early this year by a group of citizen volunteers who were just plain tired of looking at the fenced off gravel lot with its ragtag collection of political signs and advertising banners.
After extensive review, the project received approval by the Department of Ecology, the City Council, and Kitsap Transit, which co-owns the property with the City. Evans explained to me that because of the site’s environmental history and the adjacent ravine, it cannot be “built” on. The Waypoint design protects the ravine and contains the contaminated soil deep below the ground surface. According to state EPA standards, the site technically cannot be called a park. Thus, it will be known as Waypoint, which is a navigational term meaning “a stopping place on a journey.”
As Waypoint steering committee member and Bainbridge attorney Bruce Weiland explained to the City Council, it is a “landscape walkthrough,” with paths, benches, and low-maintenance landscaping. It is not about “playgrounds or firepits,” he said.
A true grassroots citizen initiative, the project has been spearheaded by a group of volunteers and funded through a variety of generous assistance from architects, subcontractors, environmentalists, the Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island, and community organizations through professional services, fee waivers, outright donations, and countless volunteer hours.
About the Waypoint Steering Committee Chair and Project Coordinator Jim Chapel, Evans said, “he charms the birds off the trees.” With a lead gift of $80,000 from the Bainbridge Island Rotary Club, Chapel has enlisted Johnpaul Jones as the project’s architect and PHC as its contractor. Ann Lovejoy is coordinating the planting of native trees and plants to support the ravine’s wildlife and create a green centerpiece. Metal artist Garth Edwards and the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum are helping with signage, including historical markers and maps. Six huge granite boulders have been donated from Kingston. And former Squeaky Wheels president Dana Berg helped the Steering Committee include in its design room for bike lanes in anticipation of creating a Bainbridge Island connection to the Sound-to-Olympic Bike Trail.
“The focus of the Waypoint project is the spirit of welcome and the natural beauty of our Bainbridge Island community. It will have a lovely, simple design that allows a moment of pause among daily comings and goings on the Island,” said Johnpaul Jones.
An additional $200,000 is required to complete the project and will be raised via donations as well as sponsorships of several site components: historical markers, memorial benches, stone walls, boulders, and wayfaring signs. Evans told me the committee is currently about half way toward completing this final phase of fundraising.
Once the project is complete, it will be turned over to the Bainbridge Island Metro Park and Recreation District for long-term administration and maintenance.
Want to help or learn more? Contact Shannon Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos by Julie Hall. Image courtesy of Shannon Evans.