History of Pritchard Park

When the Wyckoff Company became financially unable to continue the cleanup of the Superfund site, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took over operations. In 1994, the Wyckoff Company under its new name of Pacific Sound Resources entered into an agreement with the Suquamish and Muckelshoot tribes and the EPA to limit liability in exchange for the creation of a land trust containing the 50-acre Bill Point Superfund site and some properties in Seattle. After the Port Authority of Seattle purchased the Seattle properties from the trust, citizens of Bainbridge Island wondered about the fate of the former Wyckoff site. Developers were interested in purchasing the land, but they were rejected since the EPA cleanup was still proceeding. In 1995, the mayor of the City of Bainbridge Island, Janet West, formed a citizen committee to investigate possible alternatives for the property.  The committee’s 1996 report, entitled Recommended Zoning for the Site of the Former Wyckoff Creosote Facility, proposed setting aside 28 acres away from the water to be zoned for residential developments, 10 acres for water-dependent commercial use, and about 11 acres for a park. This proposal was not revisited for the rest of the decade as the EPA continued its cleanup of the site.

EPA concerns about the disruption of natural life that could be caused by commercial usage of the beach halted city plans to build a dock and boat haul-out facility off the beach on Eagle Harbor. In 2000, another Wyckoff Advisory Committee – this one composed of both citizens and representatives of the City of Bainbridge Island and the Park District – was formed to reassess commercial development for the site and proposed setting aside the entire 50-acre property for a city park. In 2002, the property was appraised at $8 million. Shortly thereafter, the newly formed Friends of Pritchard Park Wyckoff Acquisition Task Force began to raise funds to purchase the property from the land trust in collaboration with the Bainbridge Island Land Trust and Trust for Public Lands. The group worked from 2003, when United States Representative Jay Inslee officially endorsed both the concept and the name of “Pritchard Park”, through 2005, when the State of Washington appropriated the final amount of money needed to purchase the land. Representatives from many Bainbridge Island groups contributed to the cause. The final sale of the land to the City of Bainbridge Island was completed on February 27, 2006.

Pritchard Park was named in honor of Joel Pritchard, a U.S. representative from the district including Bainbridge Island and two-term Lieutenant Governor of Washington. The name was first proposed by a member of the original citizen committee to investigate uses for the land at the Wyckoff site in 1997. Click here for more information on Joel Pritchard.