Foss fine could aid Indianola open space

INDIANOLA — A $415,000 fine may turn into the golden ticket for the Indianola Spit, as preliminary designs were presented Tuesday night at the Indianola Clubhouse. Approximately three dozen people met at the community gathering place to discuss a project to rehabilitate 80 acres of Kitsap County open space just east of the Indian Bay area.

The plans were presented in two phases, including replacing a culvert with a bridge, scooping out fill to restore it to a mudflat habitat and creating an extended trail system. The change in drainage from the culvert project, however, caused several residents to balk, concerned the project would require dredging in the near future to preserve waterfront docks.

“The plan is to take out the culvert that prohibits fish passage and really open up the habitat,” said Great Peninsula Conservancy director of development and outreach Kate Kuhlman. “We’re putting a bridge back in place, and we’re replacing portions of (the trail) with boardwalk. We might also create a secondary track. As I understand it, this money will pay for the first phase.”

The first phase would replace the existing culvert at Chief Sealth Drive, just northeast of the Indianola Spit, with a two-lane, 18- to 24-foot bridge, said GeoEngineers Senior Hydraulics Engineer Steven Thompson. This would improve water flow in and out of the area, and reduce stress on salmon and local marine wildlife. This portion of the project would likely require the majority of $415,000 the county has acquired, said Kitsap County Commissioner Steve Bauer.

Additional funds would have to be sought to construct the trails and excavate the property.

The fine was paid by Foss Maritime for a Dec. 30, 2003 oil spill at Point Wells near Edmonds that spread 4,700 gallons across the Puget Sound. The shores of Indianola, including the once pristine Doe-Kag-Wats saltwater marsh, were impacted and earmarked for restoration projects. Kitsap County bought the Indianola acreage in 1998 to prevent it from being developed. The GPC, which signed an agreement for the land’s title, repaid the county two years later.

The plan presented Tuesday remained somewhat unclear due to its preliminary status, and several at the meeting expressed concern silt washing out of the ecosystem could build up beneath their docks, and the new bridge wouldn’t be pedestrian-friendly.

“I think the commissioner captured the questions and concerns of the community,” said Indian Bay Home Owners Association President Lee Lannoye. “As he said, now is the chance the community has to make sure all of the concerns are taken into account.”

Bauer called an end to the meeting after residents said they felt the plan as presented was overly vague and too many problems and questions were being raised. He said Thompson, the GPC and the county would work to clarify the project further, and meet with residents again in about three months.

“I think there was great leadership from the commissioner,” said Indianola resident Dammon Brown. “I think it’s a very positive idea, and with good leadership will be a good thing. The commissioner demonstrated that leadership tonight.”

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