After decades of wrangling, the City of Bainbridge Island has finally completed the new home of its police department, municipal court offices, and emergency services on the site of the former Harrison Hospital Medical Clinic site – at 8804 Madison Avenue North. The new, ultra-modern facility will be called the Ted Spearman Justice Center, named in honor of the now deceased judge.
The police station has been located at the corner of Winslow Way and Highway 305 for more than three decades, while the Muni court has moved around a bit and is now located in Rolling Bay. The city leases the Muni court space and owns the police station building outright. Police operations and other city staffers will soon be relocating to the new center located just off of Highway 305, at the intersection of Madison Avenue and New Brooklyn Road, across from the Fire Station.
Talk of building a new police station, and later including the Municipal Court, has been in the air for decades. A previous administration even put the idea to voters back in 2015, where it was soundly defeated. Community conversation on both sides of the issue ensued over the years, including a petition from change.org (https://www.change.org/p/bainbridge-city-council-no-new-bainbridge-island-police-station) that opposed the project, with the title “No New Police Station”. That campaign occurred during the height of the “Defund the Police” movement nationwide.
Along the way, there was a conflict-of-interest lawsuit filed against a former Mayor, and other islanders – including some former City Councilors – pushing back against the project’s land cost and public process.
In early 2020, the City completed the purchase of the nearly spanking new clinic building and property – owned by CHI Franciscan – for $8.9 million. However, it didn’t get started on the retrofit of the building until then new City Manager Blair King came on board and was able to lead the city through the project’s evolution.
Three area building-related firms were hired to complete the nearly $20 million signature project: Bainbridge Island’s Clark Construction, the lowest responsive bidder for the reconstruction; architect of record, Coates Design of Bainbridge; and, Parametrix, a Bremerton-based engineering, planning and environmental company.
The new Justice Center was officially dedicated last week with a community Open House that included tours and speeches from dignitaries and family members of Ted Spearman. You can view the Grand Opening of the Ted Spearman Justice Center video here.
While addressing the community, King noted, “This building helps us better serve the public… Yes, the employees will enjoy the benefits, but the real purpose of this building is so that we can serve the public, whether it’s providing the public a degree of safety, whether it’s to make sure that people feel heard in the court, whether it’s to provide emergency response in times of disaster and catastrophe.”
According to a report in The Kitsap Sun, the police side of the new facility has “soft” and “hard” interview spaces, a secure evidence room, administrative offices and a fitness center. The new Muni Court area includes a large courtroom with a jury box, separation for involved parties and space for the public to observe proceedings. The building also has a dedicated space where emergency officials can convene when the city’s emergency operations center activates.
“Today marks progress,” added Bainbridge Island Police Chief Joe Clark. “Our old facility has served its purpose, but its time has come and gone. We’re looking forward to moving into a building that serves the needs of a modern police department and the needs of our community.”
The name of the facility recognizes islander Theodore “Ted” Spearman, who died in 2012 after a long legal career in which he became the first Black judge on the Kitsap County Superior Court bench.
Learn about the incredible life and legacy of Theodore ‘Ted’ Spearman, namesake of the new Ted Spearman Justice Center, in this video tribute: A Video Tribute to Integrity and Equality
Per The Sun, Gov. Jay Inslee, a Bainbridge Island resident, acknowledged Spearman’s legacy: “Everybody who came in contact with him was uplifted, and I certainly was. To see this named after him is really a great honor to his family and for the City of Bainbridge to really recognize his contribution. I’m just thrilled to see him honored.”
Spearman’s daughter Simone recalled her father’s personal life and legal career, his characteristics as a vigilant and discerning person, his wisdom, his cherishing of adoption days.
“The Spearman family thanks you for deciding to name this justice center after our beloved,” she said in a brief address. “Countless people are worthy of remembrance, countless. We feel extremely fortunate and honored that this community has chosen to memorialize his life’s work and his love of Bainbridge in this way.”
Source Material: Some information in this story was gleaned from The Kitsap Sun. Videos courtesy of the City of Bainbridge Island. Photos by Kevin Dwyer
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