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BAINBRIDGE ISLAND FC

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17

Nov, 2021

Updated: Bainbridge Island Youth Sports Proposal For Year-Round Fields at Battle Point Park

  • Bainbridge Island suffers from a severe and worsening shortage of spaces for our children to recreate safely outdoors from October-March
  • The Year-Round Fields Coalition is proposing to add, at no cost to the taxpayer, state-of-the-art lighting to the turf fields at Battle Point Park
  • These lights are not "stadium lights," they are designed to minimize light pollution, unlike the older generation lights at the high school - which do not use the state of the art technology being proposed by the Coalition to control light spill and glare
  • The days/hours of use would be strictly limited by a long-term scheduling agreement that would provide guarantees to other stakeholders
  • On Thursday January 6th the Year-Round Fields Coalition will be presenting and asking the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park and Recreation District to approve installing lights at the Battle Point Park turf fields.  Please show your support by sending in letters/emails to the Commissioners and attending with your youth sports gear and video on.

Youth sports are a long standing tradition on Bainbridge Island and have always enjoyed broad community support. As the island has grown so have the needs of our young athletes, and we have a history of supporting that need. It is a part of what makes Bainbridge Island such a vibrant community.

        


Today youth sports organizations and teams on the island are experiencing a new challenge -  finding the time and space to practice and play during the winter months with insufficient natural light. In our part of the world we are out of daylight by late afternoon, giving little time after school, and the rains make grass fields unplayable(1). As a result, the turf field at Bainbridge High School (BHS) is the only field available for scheduling week day practices from October through March for both high school groups and other sports organizations. The school district does its best to share time on the field, but with the growing number of groups and youth participants (BHS youth sports participation has grown 17% in the last 5 years) needing field time there simply is not enough hours or space to accommodate the need(2).

       


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(1) Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park & Recreation District and Bainbridge Island School District do not make their grass fields available during the winter months to avoid long term damage. (2) eg, Bainbridge Island Football, Soccer, Band, Boys and Girls Lacrosse, Ultimate Frisbee, Bozo Ball, BI Flag Football, Bainbridge Island FC (BIFC).

Very recently Bainbridge Island FC (BIFC) has been told that their historically available field times at the high school field may no longer be available, and they may not have practice space for their 25 teams with 360 players from November through February. This has thrown the 2021/22 season into question. While we are actively working to resolve this it is alarming that the situation has come to this point. Bainbridge Ultimate Frisbee and Bainbridge Lacrosse also have increasingly limited time available due to BHS usage - who rightly have priority on their field. These limitations are real and immediate. We need to create new year round field availability starting now. This is a present, not future, problem.

There is a solution. Bainbridge Island FC (BIFC), Bainbridge Island Girls Lacrosse and Ultimate Frisbee have formed a group, the Year-Round Fields Coalition (YRFC) to address this need. Having looked at all the options available to us, we have found a confluence of opportunity and fiscal wherewithal. Working with the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park & Recreation District (BIMPRD) and other community supporters(3) YRFC is proposing the installation of state-of-the-art(4) field lighting at the existing turf fields #4 and #5 at Battle Point Park. This is the most expedient and fiscally responsible option available by any measure, giving our youth teams both the shortest time line to finding space and the lowest cost to the community. Lowest cost because YRFC is prepared and able to underwrite the entire cost of the project from start to finish(5). Shortest time line because all other sites required significant infrastructure work and long term planning on the part of the organizations involved and anticipated concerns from adjacent neighborhoods regardless of location looked at.

       

Roosevelt High School
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(3) Bainbridge Little League, Roots Basketball, Bainbridge Island Junior Football Association, Bainbridge Boys Lacrosse, Fred Walters Bainbridge Pediatrics, Bainbridge Island School District, Bainbridge Barbarians Rugby Football Club (4) https://www.musco.com/total-light-control/ (5) Bainbridge Island FC (BIFC) is willing to pay the cost of the light installation at other locations but it is worth noting that the current estimated costs of building turf fields from scratch comparable to Battle Point Park with lights is $6-8 million

This is a very exciting opportunity for our community, one we can’t pass up. In relatively minimal time and no expense to Bainbridge taxpayers we can solve a long standing problem that is only growing in urgency. It is a solution that could work for all our sporting and recreational needs, would be an asset for BIMPRD, and relieve pressure on the BHS turf field. We ask that all supporters of our youth reach out to the BIMPRD Board of Commissioners with a letter of support via the email on this well-researched and fiscally-smart solution!

      


Questions we have been asked

Is there a BI Parks agreement that prohibits lighting sports fields at Battle Point Park? 

No. While this is a common misunderstanding, BI Parks’ leadership has recently and repeatedly clarified that the installation of turf fields without lighting in 2009 is not in perpetuity nor binding on future BIMPRD options.  It was left for future Parks District boards to revisit the topic of lighting based on improved sports lighting technology, changes in demographics, and the growing needs of the community. 

Aren’t there other possible locations that will have less impact on the surrounding neighborhoods?

We have not found it.  Over the years many locations and options have been explored, including the Sakai property, Sands field, Strawberry Hill, Hidden Cove fields, Waterfront park, Hyla Middle School, Sakai Intermediate School, Woodward Middle School and the grass fields at Bainbridge High School. All of these sites have fundamental limitations and/or prohibitive costs making them significantly less viable to our community.  All would entail installation of new turf fields and the subsequent environmental, process and community concerns for those locations.  Although we are not seeing a viable alternative for year round fields at this time YRFC has and will continue to work with BIMPRD, BISD and other interested partners on alternatives if they can solve our urgent need by November 2022.

What about the Bainbridge Island School District locations? 

Potentially but in the distant future. The school district is considering a long term vision for upgrading or expanding their existing sports facilities. The Year-Round Fields Coalition is fully supportive of improved and increased sports facilities for BISD and look forward to the opportunity to partner with the district if the opportunity arises.  However, we understand this planning is in its earliest stages, without specificity or funding resources. While the district is enthusiastic about the concept, it’s in early stages with many unknowns on feasibility and timing to be worked out (planning, bonding, construction, etc.). Although our primary goal is to have year round field availability increased at any location on the Island we believe our non-school sports and youth organizations are best served by our Parks District, its mission, vision and strategic plan.

It is reported by the school district that school enrollment numbers have been falling. Doesn’t that indicate a diminishing need for youth sports facilities?

No. While enrollment in public schools has seen modest declines, both our high school, recreational and club youth sports are seeing an increase in participation.  Bainbridge High School has seen a 17% increase in sports participation in the last 5 years and the combined number of participants across youth sports clubs is nearly 2000 today.  

When would the light at Battle Point be on? Who would control the schedule?

We propose that lights would be active only during actual field usage and would always be off by 9 pm. All scheduling would be routed through the Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Parks District for approval and management. 

What about increased light pollution?

The lighting system has been carefully designed and calibrated to reduce light pollution. The system proposed for the Battle Point Park turf fields, designed by Musco (https://www.musco.com/total-light-control/) uses highly energy efficient and optically precise technology to carefully control light spill and glare. The design was submitted and approved as compliant with the International Dark Sky Association’s Community Friendly Outdoor Sports Lighting program. It is important to note that the lighting will not look, function, or be experienced anything like the current lighting at Bainbridge High School field, which uses old field lighting technology that produces a great deal of glare and light spill. Also, the proposed lights at Battle Point will be on only from dusk to 9pm, Monday through Friday, mid-October through mid March. YRFC acknowledges the impact to the Battle Point Astronomical Association (BPAA) when the lights are active and are committed to working with BPAA to find solutions by arranging schedules to avoid any disruption to their programs and collaborate on the drafting and adoption of a binding conditional use agreement.

Will night-time usage increase traffic in the surrounding neighborhoods?

YRFC recognizes that traffic patterns during the times lights are in use, from mid October through mid March will change, but the traffic associated with the lighting proposal will be far below peak traffic that the Battle Point Neighborhood experiences at other times of the year. 

Is there a concern regarding the Battle Point Park septic system handling the proposed change of use that lighting would introduce?  

No. This question was brought up to BIMPRD earlier this summer and they expressed no concerns about the ability of their septic system related to this proposal.

Will lighting the fields create additional sound and people in all parts of the park in the evening hours ?  

No.  The sound level and number of people will be no different or even less than what the community experiences now in the spring, summer and early fall when there is active use of the park until 9pm or later when a variety of different functions in the park such as the Summer Concert Series, Movies in the Park and the Haunted Hay Ride.

What would keep hours of lighting from being expanded? 

We propose a conditional use in the permit through the City of Bainbridge Island for lights at Battle Point Park that will lay out the hours and conditions for use of the lights. This is an agreement that is widely used in public projects to set constraints on use of public impact facilities. It is the model which has been used over the past 25 years for the lighting at Strawberry Hill Park, which defines lighting by months, days of the week, time of day, and user groups. 

How can I attend upcoming Bainbridge Island Metropolitan Park & Recreation District meetings concerning the lighting project at Battle Point?

The YRFC has asked for time on the BIMPRD Commission meeting agenda for Thursday January 6th to formally propose that the Parks District approve installing lights for the turf fields at Battle Point Park.  We encourage all who are interested to write letters/emails of support to the Commissioners ahead of the meeting and attend with your youth sports gear on. 

Relevant Information from BIMPRD 2020 Comprehensive Plan 

POPULATION & SOCIOECONOMIC CHARACTERISTICS

The information provided in this section was obtained from the United States Census Bureau, the WA State Office of Management & Budget, and the Puget Sound Regional Council. See related links below: (ACS) https://ofm.wa.gov/washington-data-research/population-demographics/american-community- survey and (PSRC) https://www.psrc.org/data-and-resources/data-psrc,

Population Trends

Bainbridge Island’s population was estimated to be 23,025 in 2010 and 24,846 in the year 2019 - equal to an average annual increase of 0.70% per year over the 9-year period. By comparison, Kitsap County increased at an annual average rate of 0.81%, the Puget Sound Region by 1.46%, and Washington State by 1.29%.

According to the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) and Bainbridge Island’s Planning & Community Development Department, the island’s population is forecasted to increase to 33,300 persons by the year 2040, or by another 9,091 persons (37%).
The island’s rate of population increase is estimated to be equal to an annual average increase of 1. % compared to .72. % for Kitsap County, 1. % for Washington State.

 Most of this projected increase will come from the in-migration of households seeking to live, work, and retire on Bainbridge Island. The projected growth will be significant and will increase demand for park, recreation, and open space resources on the island.

Bainbridge Island FC Field Development Presentation


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