JulieLeung.com: a life told in tidepools

pictures and stories from the water’s edge

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February 6th, 2004 · 2 Comments

Our neighborhood has been a bit of an experiment for our city. Like many other places managing growth in recent years, Bainbridge has been trying to figure out how to allow development yet retain rural character. So the plan has been to have pockets of higher density closer to the city center and ferry terminal, with larger lots around the rest of the island. Subdivisions the size of ours are rare. There aren’t many with as many homes.

It’s been an experience living in this new neighborhood the past three years. We had never moved into a developing subdivision. Not only have there been battles within the neighborhood, regarding what was being built inside, but we as a neighborhood have battled what others, including the city, had planned to build outside. Some of these battles have seemed a bit NIMBY to me. No, I don’t want a sludge treatment facility right outside my neighborhood. But I do also see that this is a small island, and putting it somewhere else isn’t that far from my home anyway. Is someone else’s backyard truly a better place than my own? I’ve wondered at times, as we’ve worked with the city through some of these issues.

So the city has been making proposals for what will happen outside our neighborhood, and the city also determined what will happen inside. The city’s legislation on Open Space and their approval of the development’s plan spelled out what percentage of the land would remain untouched Open Space. Since our plans were approved and implemented, the city has been working through difficulties in the Open Space requirements, making changes, even halting the subdivision process for a while.

What Open Space has meant for our neighborhood though is that areas of woodland were preserved. Instead of clearing the entire development, strips and patches of forest remain. It’s not the same as having acres of untouched land, but the pieces are still precious: playgrounds for the kids and pretty privacy for the grownups.

I’m not sure whether an arborist would have approved this policy of leaving remnants of forest remaining: our neighborhood just received a long list from a professional recommending that many of our trees be removed. When Ted and I were building, I had hoped to keep some trees on our lot alive. However after learning from Master Gardeners that trees can take up to ten years to show signs of damage, and that any construction within the drip line can affect a tree, I decided to have our lot cleared completely.

But the forest is wonderfully refreshing. When I moved away from the Northwest after high school, I wanted only to live Somewhere Else. Having lived all of my childhood that I could remember in the Seattle area, I didn’t find the native Northwest look exciting. All that green was boring to me.

Moving back years later, now also a mother, I am glad to let my girls grow up here in the green. We wander outside on mornings, even damp days, enjoying the trees and wild plants around us. What follows are some pictures of the forest “in my back yard” – photographs of the Open Space in our neighborhood.









Tags: island

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 jeffy // Feb 7, 2004 at 4:42 pm

    That’s neat having a nurse stump right in your back yard. I grew up in the Sierra Nevada foothills in CA where trees grow very very slowly and it’s still really hard to see them mown down so casually up here. But relatively speaking they do grow almost like grass in the NW climate.

  • 2 enoch // Feb 8, 2004 at 11:31 am

    love the first pic and the little baby tree too! reminds me of growing up in peoria, IL in the woods… although no conifers there 😉