Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Patriotism abounds at decommissioning ceremony for former military housing - Kitsap Sun

March 26th, 2014 
by Ethan Fowler

Tom Vargas said giving a proper closure to a subdivision that served as government housing was one of the best things about participating last Thursday in the decommissioning of a Bainbridge street formerly known as Government Way from 1957 to 2007.

Tom, and his wife Karen, lived on the street for 10 years starting in 1994. Tom donated an American flag that was used on the USS Alabama submarine at Bangor. The flag was used during Thursday’s ceremony to conclude the event.

Karen, along with Kathryn Keve and others, worked hard to collect the names of former residents, other stories and historical facts that were tied to the 16-house street. Karen retired from the Army.

Tom served on the USS Alabama with frequent Government Way visitor Brian Moss, who died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terroristic attacks while working at the Pentagon. The two friends enjoyed barbecuing together.

“It’s pretty cool,” Tom said after the decommissioning ceremony. “A lot of stuff gets closed and not a big deal is made and you come back a year later and it’s gone. This gives me closure because this was the majority of where I lived during my (military) career.”

Bainbridge Mayor Anne Blair said the ceremony was “nicely done all the way around.”

“Home is where our stories begin and this was a day of stories and it will continue to be,” Blair said.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Bainbridge Bakers marks 28th anniversary with a preview peek of new second location - BI Review

by CECILIA GARZA,  Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer 
Mar 21, 2014 at 11:29AM

After 28 years of serving coffee and baked goods on Bainbridge, it’s time for Bainbridge Bakers to spread its wings — that is, to the other end of Winslow.

The bakery will celebrate its 28th anniversary this Sunday with music and a “peek-a-boo preview” tour of their new location near the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.

“The establishment of the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art and the Kids Discovery Museum is one of the most important and notable events to occur on the island in many years,” said bakery owner Mike Loudon. “We are proud and honored to be able to support the patrons and visitors of these fine new facilities.”

Bainbridge Bakers will continue business at its original location at the Winslow Green, but come April, it will begin pouring coffee on the other end of Winslow Way, too.

At Island Gateway, nestled next door to Avalara and the museums, will be a full bakery and cafe serving all of the same Bainbridge Bakers favorites.

The bakery invites residents to join in its 28th anniversary celebration this Sunday, March 23 by welcoming the upcoming opening of its new location.

The party will kick off at 10 a.m. with kiddie karaoke until noon at the original Bainbridge Bakers location.

Island band Paundy will take the floor from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a live performance at the new location.

Their performance will be followed by local singer/songwriter Zach Fleury for another round of music back at the original Bainbridge Bakers from 1 to 3 p.m.

The party will continue until 6 p.m. at the bakery’s Winslow Green location.

Cake and preview tours of the new bakery will be provided.

CECILIA GARZA,  Bainbridge Island Review Staff Writer or 206-842-6613

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Before new development, remembering history of Bainbridge street - KITSAP SUN

By Ethan Fowler 
Saturday, March 15, 2014

Former Navy housing on Government Way on Bainbridge Island is slated to be torn down in April to make way for the second phase of the Grow Community, a sustainable housing development. (LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN)

BAINBRIDGE ISLAND — A lot of history is being dismantled as 16 single-family homes on John Adams Lane make way for a 5-acre development.

Decades ago, the street was home to a thriving Japanese population, which built a huge community hall in 1927 that hosted weddings and funerals.

Later, homes on the street were taken over by the Navy, and military members created memories raising their families on Bainbridge Island.

The street, which was known as Government Way from 1957 to 2007, will being developed later this spring as part of the second phase of the Grow Community. Grow 2.0, as it’s being called, will be 5 acres developed on what is now John Adams Lane. It will feature 3 acres of open space that will be mixed with fields, orchards and light forest groves, said Greg Lotakis, project manager for Asani Developments on the Grow Community project.

But before the homes are knocked down, a community celebration will be held at 12:30 p.m. Thursday on the old basketball court on the street. The event is a way to bring closure for those who remember the neighborhood for what it used to be. And it’s an opportunity to celebrate former residents, some who were part of high-profile events in history.

Residents such as:
—Tony Watson, a Navy underwater diver who was on TWA Flight 847 when it was hijacked in 1985 and later held hostage for two weeks in Beirut, Lebanon, before being released.

—Peter Iwane Ohtaki, a 31-year Japan Airlines executive who was a contributor to opening trade avenues between Seattle and Asia.

—Brian Moss, who served on the USS Alabama submarine at Bangor and died in the Sept. 11, 2001, terroristic attacks while working at the Pentagon.

To honor those residents — many of who served in the Navy while the 16 homes served as military housing — representatives from the Navy, Grow, the Japanese American community, American Legion Post 172, past residents and more are expected to attend the event.

“Those 16 little houses and those that lived there have touched the world,” said Karen Vargas, who lived on the street twice and has tracked down much of the street’s colorful history.

There are also stories of Utah Jazz player Marvin Williams traveling from Bremerton to practice with friends at the basketball court as a youth. Or Gov. Jay Inslee, a Bainbridge resident, who carpooled children to the baseball diamond off Weaver Road for Little League practices in the late 1990s, Vargas said.

Cindy Rees is one of two people to live on Government Way with the military — from 1996 to 2004 — and as a civilian — from 2010 to 2013. She said she found a lot of peace moving into the house next door to where she raised her four children.

“I founded the Bainbridge Island Special Olympics team out of my house,” Rees said. “There’s so many stories there. One of those days is 9/11.” She remembers her husband at home in his uniform, reacting to the news and telling her, “I still need to go to work.” “The whole community went on around us, but we stayed together through that ordeal,” she said.

She recalls lighter moments: kids sledding down the street during a 2002 snowstorm. A big street party that they got permission to hold.

Before the government housing, the street was home to a thriving Japanese population, which built a huge community hall in 1927. Events held at the hall included basketball, jujitsu training, social events and movies. The hall went into default during the three-year interment of the Japanese during World War II. It was purchased by a private owner and partially converted into a home by removing the roof and adding room dividers.

Frank Vibrans later bought the home, at 330 Shepard Way, and finished the conversion and lived there, Vargas said.

“We thought it was so weird for someone to build in that hall, but it was so huge,” said Kay Nakoa, 94, who was born on the island. “We had weddings and funerals there.”

The Grow Family homesteaded in the area, according to the Grow Community’s website.

Nakoa fondly remembered Will Grow’s grape vineyard, which was on the south side of the community hall. She recalled children often eating the grapes.

 “We used to go and swipe grapes,” said Nakoa, who worked 25 years as a checker at Town & Country Market.

As a way to save much of the street’s history, American Legion Post 172 Commander Fred Scheffler plans to create a repository for the memorabilia. Vargas plans to assemble a booklet to present to the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum. At Thursday’s ceremony, Scheffler hopes to chronicle the residents by having them sign their names with the year they arrived and left.

“With the last person living there signing it last,” Scheffler said.

Even though Rees said she has a lot of good memories of living on Government Way, she said it’s time for a new development. “I hear people say they shouldn’t take down those houses, but these houses needed to be torn down years ago,” Rees said. “What’s awesome is having the Grow Community doing it environmentally friendly and we appreciate that the Grow Community listened to us to do this (ceremony.)”


The Honoring Historic Government Way ceremony will take place Thursday at 12:30 p.m. at John Adams Way NW (formerly Government Way) on the old basketball court.

The community is invited to share stories that organizers plan to preserve in a pamphlet form and possibly on-site markers. If you have a story to share and can’t attend, please email it to

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Installation Notes: Welcome To The Net-Zero Neighborhood - Solar Power World

March 11, 2014: By Andrew Merecicky

Residents of Bainbridge Island, Wash., led by Asani Development Initiatives, are re-imagining what a residential community could be. Even more impressive than its community gardens and car share program, the Grow Community is on track to be the largest planned solar-ready neighborhood in Washington State.

The housing development is designed to be a net-zero energy community, and is one of seven such endorsed projects by the One Planet Living program. Asani has also partnered with two Washington-based companies, BlueFrog Solar and A&R Solar, to develop an installation-ready solar package around which each home in the Grow Community is specifically designed.

The solar systems are intended to provide 100% of the energy demand of each house. The roofs of each structure were carefully designed to support the required number of solar panels. The installation package available to homebuyers features the Washington-based itek Energy‘s PV panels and APS America‘s microinverters.
Model homes on Grow Avenue NW. September 26, 2012. Credit: Anthony Rich
Model homes on Grow Avenue NW. September 26, 2012. Credit: Anthony Rich
“The variety of rooflines that make a project like Grow so visually interesting can be a challenge for solar systems, which rely on PV arrays being optimally oriented toward the sun,” says Kelly Samson CEO of APS America. “Unlike regular ‘string’ inverters, APS microinverters maximize output and allow monitoring of individual panels, optimizing the productivity of the whole array at all points in the sun’s daily arc across the sky.”

The project will be completed in three phases. The first phase, which is presently nearing completion, will contain 18 single-family homes, six town houses and 20 multi-family rental units. Two more neighborhoods, referred to as “neighborhood 2.0″ and “3.0″ respectively, are still in the design stages. Homeowners have the standing option to install a solar system or not, providing customers with flexibile options regarding installation timing and financing.

“The project is being constructed in three phases to reduce risk and to allow the development team to apply lessons learned in each phase to the subsequent phase,” says Marja Preston, president of Asani Development. “We were confident that the solar community would work as we had a long interest list prior to placing the homes on the market. All of the homes were presold before construction began, an indication that there is strong interest, not only in solar homes, but in solar homes in a connected, walkable community.”

The first solar modules installed on Grow model homes. July 13, 2012. Credit: Jonathan Davis
The first solar modules installed on Grow model homes. July 13, 2012.
Credit: Jonathan Davis

Phase II, containing neighborhood 2.0 and 3.0, will involve building 88 more homes. Housing options will consist of a mix of two-story town houses, single-level houses and apartments in three-story buildings. Additionally, residential parking will be underground to maximize the community’s green space. The second phase is also going to include the community center building and a childcare facility in its construction. Every structure in the community is built solar-ready.

The ultimate goal of the project was to design a repeatable model for a net-zero energy housing development, a task which, Preston says, was accomplished.

 “The biggest challenge for our team was to design a net-zero energy single-family home that could be built and sold for a reasonable price. The goal for the project was to demonstrate a profitable and therefore replicable net-zero energy residential real estate development. We absolutely met that challenge,” Preston says.

Bainbridge is an ideal location for such an innovative project, because tax rebates in Washington make possible an affordably-priced solar option. This is one of the reasons Preston sees a promising future for Grow and similar green community development in Washington.

“The fact that almost all the homebuyers have chosen the solar option is an indication that the strategy for adding solar that we created with BlueFrog and A&R has been successful and is entirely replicable in other housing developments in the state.”

Installation Notes:  

Panel type: 240 and 270W itek Energy  
Microinverters: YC200, YC500 APS America  
Racking and Mounting: SunModo Racking Systems  
Monitoring: APS Energy Communication Unit/Energy Monitoring and Analysis Output: 2.9 kW to 8.9 kW per housing unit.
Installation Crew: A&R Solar  
Installation Dates: June 2012 – ongoing project

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