DRAFT Position Statement on Stadium Lighting at Battle Point Park

June 11, 2021

The mission of the Battle Point Alliance is to ensure that Battle Point Park and the quiet residential Battle Point neighborhood co-exist in harmony. We work to support a healthy balance of park uses that benefit the entire Bainbridge Island community including daytime passive and active recreational uses, and educational and cultural uses including those conducted by the Battle Point Astronomical Association (BPAA).

The Alliance supports physical activity and youth sports however we do not support stadium lighting at Battle Point Park. Lights there adversely impact the Battle Point neighborhood, the BPAA, and non-sports users of the park. The Alliance supports the exploration of lighted sports field alternatives to Battle Point Park. The addition of stadium lighting at Battle Point Park would create a region-wide destination for sports fields with the following adverse impacts.

  • BPAA:  The Bainbridge Island Football Club (BIFC) proposal would threaten the viability of the Battle Point Astronomical Association (BPAA) and the landmark community resource that is the Edwin E. Ritchie Observatory.
  • TRAFFIC:  In a rural residential neighborhood without sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks, or white striping on the edge of the roadways, the proposal would create new safety hazards by bringing substantially increased traffic — already heavy at times during the day for a residential area — into the neighborhood at night.

Bainbridge Island Youth Soccer Club’s 2005 Statement about Traffic:  The BIYSC stated in 2005 they would address the traffic impacts from the new artificial turf fields. No one has addressed traffic impacts; they have only gotten worse.

  • LIGHT POLLUTION:  Night-time stadium lights would potentially produce light trespass into the surrounding neighborhoods from October through March (the time period proposed).
  • EXPANSION OF LIGHTING IN THE FUTURE:  There is no assurance that the use of lighting, once installed, would not be expanded in the future, including allowing lighting later in the evening, and adding other lighting in the park, e.g., parking lot lighting, lighting for other sport fields, etc. This would lead to continuing battles between the parties.
  • NOISE:  Additional noise would permeate the park and neighborhood into the evening hours.
  • SEPTIC:  The proposal would potentially exacerbate already problematic septic issues at the park.
  • PROPERTY VALUES:  There are concerns about quality-of-life impacts and the potential to lower property values in the neighborhood.
  • WILDLIFE:  Night-time lighting, traffic, and noise create further disruptions to wildlife in the area.

DRAFT Position Statement

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The neighborhood’s position is night-time lighting and sports are completely out of balance with the quiet rural residential neighborhood surrounding Battle Point Park. The neighborhood has already done its part to support a major expansion of daytime youth sports at the park driven by the construction of artificial turf fields. It is not fair to portray the neighborhood as not supporting youth sports. Many of us are parents whose children grew up playing organized sports on Bainbridge Island. We support Island youth; we don’t support stadium lights at Battle Point.  The BIFC’s March 2021 letter to its member families stated that the proposal will allow us “…to remaining [sic] in harmony with other park users and neighbors.” The proposal is not in harmony with the neighborhood. It is the opposite.

Examples of Balanced Park Uses:  The Park Board’s decision to allow frisbee golf only in the south (sports) end of the park, and to reduce the proposal from 18 to 9 “holes” is an example of good decision that recognizes the need for balance at the park. The Board’s 2005 approval of artificial turf fields without lighting is another example of balance. An approval for lighting tips the balance in favor of night sports at the park impacting the neighborhood, BPAA, and non-sports park users.

Even without night-time uses, the number of current activities at Battle Point Park is a very long list and new activities are added each year. The Park District acknowledges that Battle Point is “go-to” location for new park programs and activities. The neighborhood has supported an expansion of new public uses of the park, but believes we’ve reached a tipping point. Residents are being asked once again to absorb and support another large-scale activity in an already heavily used park. 

Current Uses of Battle Point Park:  Soccer, Lacrosse, Roller Hockey, Softball and Little Leagues, Frisbee Golf and Ultimate Frisbee, Pickleball and Tennis, Bicycle Pump Track, Youth Gymnastics Facility, two Playgrounds, Hiking/Dog Walking including trail heads for Forest to Sky and Ferry Dell Trails, Garden Plots, Fishing, Horse Corral and Trail, Summer Concerts, Summer Movie Series, Halloween Hay Rides, Wine Tasting Festival, Park Services Office and Shop/Maintenance Yard. The Park District acknowledges that Battle Point is the “go to” location for new park activities.

The neighborhood is in close proximity to the park all the time, not just during sporting events. Sports families who don’t live by the park can leave the area after games and enjoy their quiet neighborhoods; we in the neighborhood cannot. Ask any neighborhood, especially a quiet non-urban residential neighborhood, how they would feel about having stadium lighting installed next to their homes along with all the impacts it creates.  

Although the BIFC states there is an acute need for sports field lighting, the main argument for installing stadium lighting at Battle Point may be based on a misleading narrative over the longer term. The population of school-aged children youth on Bainbridge is actually declining. Based on population data and trends, Bainbridge Island should have sufficient capacity to provide for youth participating in sports in the foreseeable future. Parks could reconsider the needs in 5-10 years if trends in youth population reverse.

DRAFT Position Statement

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Data: The BIFC proposal states there is a growing need for youth resources by presenting overall population growth statistics for Bainbridge Island. The juxtaposition of these statistics with a focus on youth is not adequately explained because the population of youth on Bainbridge is actually declining.  Based on 2004-2021 Bainbridge Island School District (BISD)data, the population of school-aged children is declining by 2.4% per year. Since a high of 4,223 students enrolled in 2005-2006, BISD student enrollment has declined 15.7% to 3,560 in 2020-2021. Without major changes in the socioeconomic conditions on Bainbridge, the trend in the overall size of the youth population is going to continue downwards between now and 2040.

There are alternatives to Battle Point Park that could be explored with an expanded group of interested parties. The preferred option would be to locate lights in a more urban area or in an area with much less impact to surrounding rural neighborhoods and to the BPAA.  For example, off Island, there are four acres of lighted turf fields being proposed at the Poulsbo Events and Recreation Center. The Bainbridge Island School District or City may be interested in shared facilities.

The Alliance would be a willing participant in a broader community discussion about the need and the available alternatives for additional sport fields and night-time lighting.

SUMMARY:

The Alliance supports physical activity and youth sports; however, we do not support lighting at Battle Point Park. Night-time lighting and sports are completely out of balance with the quiet rural residential neighborhood. Lights there adversely impact the neighborhood, the BPAA, and non-sports users of the park. Impacts include traffic, light pollution, possible expansion of lighting in the future, noise, septic, wildlife, property values, and impacts to the Battle Point Astronomical Association and Edwin E. Ritchie Observatory. The addition of permanent lighting infrastructure and all the impacts, does not make sense to the neighborhood at a time when youth population on the Island is decreasing.

The neighborhood has already done its part to support a major expansion of daytime youth sports at the park driven by the construction of artificial turf fields. The neighborhood has also supported an expansion of new public uses of the park, but believes we’ve reached a tipping point. Residents are being asked once again to absorb and support another large-scale activity in an already heavily used park. The Alliance supports, and would be a willing participant in, the exploration of alternatives to Battle Point.