Nets removed after too much pickleball at neighborhood park

The Bainbridge Island Metro Parks and Recreation District board discussed many topics at its most recent meeting, but none more interesting than pickleball.

It was said that the net on the pickleball court at Williams-Olson Park has been removed because the amount of play was exceeding expectations. The goal for that park was not to increase traffic but rather to enhance what was there. There are parking restrictions, and there have been issues with that.

Therefore, it has been turned back into a situation where participants must bring their own net to play pickleball.

Parks executive director Terry Lande said the other issue is that the sound from people constantly playing pickleball has been hard on neighbors. Park Services director Dan Hamlin said the park was never meant to be a destination for people to play pickleball, but rather a neighborhood park.

Also, Lande and Hamlin met with Melissa Bang-Knudsen and Sean Magy from pickleball and Paul Sullivan from Bainbridge Community Tennis Association. The tennis community prefers the courts at Battle Point Park to remain multi-use. The days and times that tennis and pickleball will have priority on those courts are still being negotiated.

Commissioner Tom Goodlin asked what the path forward would be for building the tennis courts at Sakai Park. Lande said if tennis gives up the two multi-use courts at Battle Point, then two tennis courts would be built at Sakai. There would be no net gain on BI otherwise. It was said that the tennis community does not care what happens to the tennis courts at Strawberry Hill Park or Eagledale Park.

Dream donor?

In other potential big news, Lande talked to Dane Fenwick with BI School District, and there may be a donor to put a lighted artificial turf field at Woodward Middle School and possibly an artificial turf field at Sakai Intermediate School. The district is also looking into additional lighted fields at Bainbridge High School.

Parks has planned extensively to build an artificial turf field at Strawberry Hill Park, but Lande said if schools proceeds with its plan there would no longer be a strong need for parks to move forward with its own. There is also talk that the donor is looking to spend money on a new private pool and fieldhouse.

Meanwhile, Goodlin said at the BI Parks & Trails Foundation meeting there was talk about multiuse trails vs. pedestrian-only or limited-use trails. He said the parks board could discuss an approach that would allow people to feel more secure in the use of trails on BI. He knows BI Land Trust is reluctant to create multiuse trails on its properties.

Also, senior planner Matthew Keough said the dock extension project will allow services to be provided without interruption. The extension at Waterfront Park would replace the sail float in Eagle Harbor used for park programming. For the dock extension project to move forward a sublease of Department of Natural Resources aquatic lands needs to be established. Recreation & Conservation Office is asking for at least a 25-year commitment to make sure the city is committed beyond the DNR lease terms.

Keough also said the playground committee for Fort Ward Parade Grounds has found success in fundraising, and the playground will include five play pieces. The goal is to have the playground installed around Labor Day.

In other news

Hamlin said the BI parks foundation has taken on the Waypoint Woods Concept Plan that will improve entry points and install seating areas.

Hamlin also said the district is formalizing its relationship with the foundation for the last several years regarding trail easements and projects. Commissioner Dawn Janow asked why the process is being formalized. Hamlin said when there is hesitation on the part of the board regarding accepting trail easements that the district had previously said are a priority that puts the foundation in an awkward situation.

Commissioner Jay Kinney said that the condemnation of the Comcast property adjacent to Strawberry Hill Park, that Kitsap County Superior Court added an order July 10. It found that parks had met the finding for public use and necessity and ordered that there be an exchange of appraisals no later than Sept. 20. The court will conduct mediation in November. If the gap cannot be bridged there will be a trial Feb. 5, 2024 at which time the court will decide what the property is worth and parks can purchase it.

Lande introduced Jenette Reneau, the new aquatic program administrator. The recreation division is doing well, and staff is busy running camps and programs. The BI Recreation Center pool has been full. And applications are being received for the open recreation division director and Bainbridge Island Swim Club head coach positions.

Hamlin said the memorial bench is being installed at Pritchard Park. The Student Conservation Corps crew rerouted a trail at Hawley Cove Park. And two bids were received for the dog park fencing project.