Wyckoff/Eagle Harbor Superfund Redevelopment

One of the United States’ most beautiful places is also the home of one of its most shameful episodes.

Bainbridge Island, home to some twenty-three thousand people, has gorgeous views of Mt. Rainier, the Seattle skyline, and the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges. On March 30, 1942, 227 Bainbridge Island men, women and children of Japanese ancestry – more than half of whom were United States citizens – began their long trek into betrayal, as they left the island under armed guard to what was for them an unknown destination. These were the first of more than 120,000 citizens and immigrants in the entire country to be imprisoned under Presidential Executive Order 9066 and Civilian Exclusion Order No. 1. They did not know at the time that their imprisonment would last for three long years and take them from Manzanar in California’s Mojave Desert to Minodoka Relocation Center in Idaho, or that only 150 of them would eventually return.

These residents had less than one week’s notice to close their businesses, store their belongings, make arrangements for their homes and land, and choose which parts of their lives to fit within a single suitcase. Those who were able to return came back to find a changed landscape. Some found a welcome, and their property maintained by caring neighbors. Others found nothing remaining for them.

Bainbridge from Ferry

Fast forward some fifty years or so. Bainbridge Island is again in the news for a shameful event. A creosote plant severely contaminated the harbor with wastewater discharged directly into the water and treated timber stored in the waters, while shipyard pollution contributed dangerous chemicals and heavy metals to those same waters. The Environmental Protection Agency placed the site on the “National Priorities List,” more commonly known as “Superfund,” reserved for those sites most harmful to human health and the environment.

This time, though, the challenge of dealing with economic loss and contamination is prompting a focus on transition rather than change. Besides the complex and long-term cleanup that has occurred and that continues today, the Island residents are finding a way to recover both land and community. The community is taking a site that has been contaminated both physically and psychically and turning it into a place of memory and education.

Wyckoff Site from Ferry0007

The site of the memorial will be at the former Eagledale ferry landing, the very location that saw the Japanese-Americans leave the Island. The vision is for a memorial area that is evocative and contemplative with the power to instruct future generations about the injustices of the past and the fragility of assumed rights. Perhaps most importantly, the memorial will commemorate and honor the strength and perseverance of the people involved and celebrates the capacity of human beings to heal, forgive and care for one another. 

Designed by nationally-recognized architect Johnpaul Jones of the Seattle firm Jones & Jones – designer of several award-winning major projects including the new National Museum of the American Indian in Washington D.C. – the centerpiece of the memorial design is a long walkway towards Eagle Harbor, recreating the walk taken by those islanders who were forced to leave their homes in 1942. Visitors will be literally walking on the same path in “the footsteps of history.”

The design elements include a 272 foot-long “story wall” that will contain the names of all 272 Japanese American residents who lived on the island in 1942. In chronological fashion the wall will tell their American story. At the end of the story wall near the harbor’s edge, a 150 foot pier – one foot for each of the 150 people who returned to Bainbridge Island – will rise from the same spot of the former Eagledale ferry dock, where visitors can experience a literal and symbolic departure from the land and freedom.

Future phases include a 5,000 square-foot interpretive/research center, a meeting room, a contemplative seating area, sculptures and other historical designated areas.

Memorial Committee

Led by the planning consulting firm E2, IEN was part of a team that worked with EPA’s Superfund Redevelopment Program and other site stakeholders, including The City of Bainbridge Island, Bainbridge Island Nikkei WWII Exclusion Memorial Committee, and EPA Region 10, in order to create a reuse action plan for the Wyckoff/Eagle Harbor Superfund site.  This collaborative effort involved an interdisciplinary approach to reuse planning that addressed limitations, opportunities, and action items in each of the following areas of concern:

  • EPA and Remedial Status
  • Site Acquisition and Trustee Issues
  • Site Design and Context
  • Process for Facilitated Stakeholder Involvement, Consensus Building and Community Support
  • Analysis of Potential Implementation Resources and Alliances

Training and Community Solutions

(2004) Communities throughout Virginia face many complex challenges such as water supply, transportation, affordable housing, community safety, and growthToo often efforts to address these problems fail because individuals and agencies are working in isolation from one another.  Public officials and civic-minded community members find few forums that bring people together to seek common and higher ground; indeed, the formal structure of public hearings and judicial and administrative appeals often exacerbates rather than resolves conflict.  Utilizing a collaborative approach to resolve local issues offers the opportunity to garner full community support, as well as timely, integrated, cost-effective implementation of solutions.

In the early 2000s, Virginia increased its capacity for collaborative approaches to address community issues through numerous, but currently disconnected programs. Virginia Training and Community Solutions sought to build on this strong foundation by developing a consistent and recognized framework for communities statewide to encourage collaborative approaches that achieve integrated solutions to complex community issues.

The mission of Virginia Solutions was to develop lasting, integrated solutions to complex community issues. Virginia Solutions provided an easy mechanism for a collaborative approach to any given community issue, with participants including local and state government agencies, business and industry, non-governmental organizations, and community groups.  More specifically, the Virginia Solutions initiative aimed to achieve the following:

  • Foster cross-sector collaboration for integrated solutions to complex community issues at the local level;
  • Establish an easy-to-use cost-effective statewide mechanism for triggering and convening a Virginia Solutions process in a locality;
  • Build on existing dispute resolution services and resources within the state;
  • Strengthen the use of collaborative problem-solving within communities and create linkages between agencies for addressing complex community issues
  • Create a cross-sector coalition of support for Virginia Solutions inside and outside of state government;
  • Facilitate leveraging of resources for the implementation and follow-through of integrated solutions.
  • Provide a specific mechanism to increase community, environmental, and economic sustainability in localities throughout all of Virginia.

Health Impacts Assessment: Poultry Litter to Energy Facility

(2012) Under mandate from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) program, the Commonwealth of Virginia is required to reduce the amount of pollutant entering impaired water bodies and tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay. Starting in 2011, decision makers in the Shenandoah Valley approached the question of implementing a poultry liter-to-energy system in the region as part of their TMDL required Watershed Implementation Plan (WIP), with the goal of establishing a sustainable and environmentally friendly means of disposing poultry litter.

The  Institute for Environmental Negotiation (IEN) was contracted to engage the public for a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) around the Conversion of Poultry Litter to Energy in the Shenandoah Valley to gather input from local stakeholders regarding the liter-to-energy system’s potential implementation. IEN’s involvement in this process entailed assisting, through the facilitation of a community engagement meeting,  the VCU Center on Human Needs (CHN) to identify health concerns and establish priorities in the HIA analysis. IEN facilitative involvement in this project included:

    • Work with the VCU team to refine the goals and desired outcomes of the community engagement meeting, and work to develop an effective agenda for community engagement meeting that was held in late March 2012.  
    • Facilitation of the meeting, including small group facilitation. 
    • Provision of two experienced facilitators, including Christine Gyovai, for this effort, as well as graduate associate assistance.
    • Drafting of a meeting summary of the meeting, including input from participants to identify health concerns and establish priorities in the HIA analysis.

George Washington National Forest Management Plan

(2010)

The George Washington National Forest was developing its next Forest Management Plan when two key stakeholders representing opposing interests of timber management and wilderness protection joined forces to try a different approach. Together, and with funding from other stakeholders, they hired IEN to design and facilitate an exploratory dialogue process. The stakeholders hoped that a collaborative approach would more successfully address the stakeholder interests than the typical forest management planning process, and that, working together, they could wield more influence in the new GW Forest Management Plan. IEN developed a dialogue process for the first meeting in 2010 that enabled stakeholders to identify shared interests, which enabled them to continue working together and shift into a more traditional consensus building process. Overall, IEN facilitated four meetings, which led to a preliminary consensus agreement on core principles, following which stakeholders continued to develop more detailed recommendations. The stakeholder collaboration continues to this day, and is considered the first stakeholder-initiated forest process of its kind in the nation.

Founding of the Virginia Food System Council

(2007-2012) The Institute for Environmental Negotiation (IEN), working in partnership with the Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension, convened and facilitated the first meeting of the Virginia Food System Council in the spring of 2009.  The goal of this meeting, based on the efforts of the Food System Working Group that had formed in November 2007, was to found the Virginia Food System Council as a more permanent entity with the mission of developing, promoting, coordinating, and implementing a “complete, robust, viable food system that ensures all Virginians have regular access to fresh, safe, healthy, nutritious, seasonal and sustainably-produced food to maintain a healthy lifestyle, enhance the economic viability and long-term success of Virginia farmers, and expand market opportunities for good local food.”

Following the foundation of the Virginia Food Systems Council, the IEN supported the Council in a variety of ways by providing facilitation, coordination and research support as needed.

Virginia Rural Health Plan

(2013) The 2013 Virginia Rural Health Plan was created to improve health opportunities and health outcomes in rural Virginia, and to reduce disparities between rural, urban, regional, racial, and other population groups. In 2012 and 2013, the IEN collaborated with the Virginia Rural Health Association, the Virginia Public Health Association, and the Virginia Department of Health’s Office of Minority Health and Health Equity to conduct a series of surveys, interviews, public meetings, and conferences. The partners that gathered input from stakeholders identified these six health conditions that disproportionately affect rural populations:

  • Obesity and associated behaviors and diseases, including nutrition, physical activity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and early mortality;
  • Mental and behavioral health, including depression, substance abuse, and a range of acute and chronic mental health issues;
  • Oral health, including self-care, preventive, and restorative
  • treatments;
  • Cancer, including prevention, early detection, and treatment;
  • Perinatal issues, including low birth weight, infant mortality, and maternal health;
  • Lung disease, including COPD and other conditions related to smoking or occupational exposure.

By following a collaborative approach, project participants and stakeholders outlined objectives, visions, and strategic action plans that will enable Virginia’s rural communities to overcome these issues.