Over the long weekend, I received three emails about Gazzam Lake, where neighbors are spreading the word about a proposed road at Gazzam Lake Park. Seven private landowners are discussing plans with City planners to obtain access to their as-yet undeveloped parcels of property by extending Springridge Road. The extension would divide the Gazzam Lake preserve and the adjacent Close Property, currently linked by a forest trail.
According to Bainbridge Review articles posted on the Save Gazzam Lake website, plans to develop a road for access to new homes have been in the works for a decade. The Review quoted Jamie Acker, one of the property owners behind the road plan as saying, ”[T]his is a road that has always been on the drawing board to be put in eventually.”
In a City application submitted in 2004, the property owners proposed extending Marshall Road to the homesites. Now, plans have changed and the proposal is to extend Springridge instead. City planner Josh Machen has said he sees “no significant issues or problems” with the plan, according to the Review.
Neighbors disagree, arguing that the road would bisect wildlife corridors and disturb priority species that live in the area, such as bald eagles and owls. The property owners say they’re trying to be sensitive to environmental issues. Interestingly, Acker is a science teacher and owl expert, and was quoted in the Kitsap Sun last summer when a nesting pair of owls were attacking walkers in Gazzam Lake Park.
Access from Crystal Springs Road would involve far less disruption, neighbors argue. But the Review quoted Machen as saying access from Crystal Springs is “worst alternative. It’s just not stable. Access from there would be very tough and very expensive.” Machen also thinks someday Marshall and Springridge will be connected and the question will be moot, according to the Review.
Here’s the text of the flyer I received:
What’s Going on at Gazzam?!?
This exceptional preserve was purchased by the citizens of Bainbridge Island after a special bond election in February 1995 and the winning of various state grants towards the purchase. At more than 400 acres today, it is Bainbridge Island’s largest undeveloped public area. It is under threat.
The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program, which put more than half a million dollars in state funds into the expansion of Gazzam Lake Park and Preserve less than two years ago, did so for reasons all Gazzam goers (and contributors) can appreciate:
• protect priority species such as purple martin, bald eagle and pileated woodpecker
• enlarge protection for the fresh water fed category I wetland
• provide a wildlife corridor that links upland fresh water and salt water communities
Seven private developers are jeopardizing those three goals. They want to access their 15 building sites on the west side of Gazzam in the cheapest possible way – by building a paved road through the Preserve over existing trails. The City has said it sees no “significant issues or problems” with that plan.
When asked to circle “applicable factors” on a pre-application checklist for the proposed road, COBI planners – to their credit — selected “wetlands,” and “geologically hazardous area,” however they did NOT circle “aquifer recharge area,” or “fish/wildlife habitat.” Those same planners said an “Eagle / heron / osprey management plan” would NOT be required.
Help preserve Gazzam Lake Park and Preserve.
Look for petitions around town (or online www.savegazzam.org), volunteer, speak out!