Impacts of Proposed Day Road Roundabout
For over a year, the Bainbridge Island Land Trust (Land Trust) has been aware of and has been working diligently to address the Washington Department of Transportation’s (WSDOT) plans to construct a roundabout at the corner of State Route 305 and Day Road. The Land Trust holds a conservation easement – our first one – on nearly 24 acres in the vicinity of this project.
In December of 2018, the landowner and the Land Trust became aware of WSDOT’s plans to use a portion of the conservation easement for the Day Road and HWY 305 roundabout for stormwater infrastructure and a portion of the actual roundabout. These plans violate the terms of the conservation easement.
The Land Trust, upon accepting a conservation easement, has the legal obligation to defend the easement and conservation values from being violated or disrupted and/or reduce threatened impacts. Most times we have been able to resolve issues through our work with landowners and third parties through negotiations.
We have worked to defend this conservation easement, track the project, and educate WSDOT and state and local leadership, including the City of Bainbridge Island, and other decision-makers about the easement and the protective values of the land. We have attended many meetings, hosted site visits, and have provided feedback to WSDOT and City leadership and staff on their plans, in addition to providing alternatives.
Our hope has been that by working with WSDOT, a design alternative would be developed that could avoid impact to the conservation easement. Over the year, all WSDOT designs have shown some level of impact to the conservation easement – from a maximum of nearly 4 acres to a design showing approximately .43 acres of impact in the northwest corner (Option 6).
At the Jan. 31, 2020, SR305 Working Group meeting, the Land Trust and the landowner, after much discussion and guidance from our attorney, indicated that we would continue working with WSDOT on implementing the Option 6 design. However, the SR 305 Working Group decided not to pursue this design and continues to research and work on alternatives, including those which would have larger impacts to the conservation easement.
As the community experiences increased traffic congestion, it is clear a solution is needed. As members of the Bainbridge Island community, the Land Trust and the landowner recognize the need to address traffic and safety concerns on SR 305, while also providing the ability for public transit and non-motorized routes.
Much progress has been made in WSDOT and the City’s understanding and recognition of the value of these conservation lands. The corner of Day Road and HWY 305 is a highly constrained site with many variables that have to be considered – with the conservation easement being one of many factors WSDOT is needing to keep in mind with their designs. The Land Trust and the landowner continue to work with WSDOT on a design that keeps as much of the conservation easement whole and intact as possible. We will continue our efforts to protect the easement, ask WSDOT to continue efforts to fully maximize their right of way, stormwater alternatives, and review designs, which will hopefully reduce impacts to all surrounding landowners.
About the Conservation Easement:
- The conservation easement – donated by Mike Ryherd and Dottie Parcheski in 1990 – was Bainbridge Island Land Trust’s first ever conservation easement in our 30 year history .
- The property was placed into conservation easement protection after local citizens worked diligently to stop the development of the property as strip mall, industrial business site, and then finally a golf driving range – all of which would have changed the visual scene and habitat values at the corner of HWY 305 and Day Road forever.
- The conservation property is nearly 24 acres in size and hosts a number of habitat types including a large open meadow, forest fringe, and riparian habitat types. The conservation easement offers an iconic open space scene on the corner of Day Road and Highway 305. The conservation easement protects these values.
- Over 75 species of birds call this conservation easement home during many of their life cycles – including nesting. Hay from the fields of the easement has provided an agricultural product for over three decades. Its largely undeveloped status provides watershed protection.
- While the land is privately owned, and all of the landowners of the property through the years have invested countless hours of their own labor to steward this property, the public and the Land Trust have been very active with the landowner in the stewardship and care of this property over the decades. In just the past 5 years, over 102 individual volunteers have worked on this property, representing over 284 hours of service. In addition, our Teen Crew and staff have dedicated over 400 hours through cost share efforts with the landowner to improve habitat conditions.
This PDF includes more detailed project information.
The above photo depicts how one of WSDOT’s plans would have impacted the conservation easement.