Bainbridge Rotary pledges $60K matching grant to FW Community Hall

Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island has pledged a $60,000 matching grant to the Fort Ward Community Hall, a landmark contribution to the heritage building restoration and public park facility project.  

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The grant was unanimously endorsed by the Bainbridge Rotary board and approved by the club’s general membership this week.

Friends of Fort Ward, the neighborhood group leading the community hall campaign, has 12 months to raise $60,000 in cash contributions to secure the Rotary match. Fundraising to date already has the project well on its way toward that goal.

“Bainbridge Rotary is such a positive force in our community,” said Douglas Crist, Friends of Fort Ward founder and board president. “We’re overwhelmed by the club’s generosity, no less so for the honor that comes with their endorsement.”

“And yes, we’ll be volunteering at the Rotary Auction, which by the way takes place on July 2 this year,” he added.

Todd Tinker, Bainbridge Rotary president, said the Club was particularly impressed with the long-term commitment to the project made by Friends of Fort Ward and the Fort Ward Youth Advisory Group.

“The Youth Advisory Group gave two separate presentations to the Club.” Tinker said. “This is a grassroots project in which a group of neighbors saw an opportunity and then dove into the hard work of making it happen. The Rotary Club is proud to support it.”

The Fort Ward Community Hall campaign is a three-way partnership of Friends of Fort Ward, an all-volunteer, 501(c)3 neighborhood organization, the Bainbridge Island Metro Park and Recreation District, and Kitsap County (Fort Ward) Sewer District No. 7.

The project will see restoration of the 1910 bakery building at Fort Ward, a National Historic District at the island’s south end.

The restored building will offer a 1,100-square foot central hall and kitchen facilities for classes, club meetings and other Park District programming.

An interpretive element will tell the story of Fort Ward’s role as a U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps outpost during World War I, and a top-secret Navy radio station during World War II.

The building is owned by the Fort Ward sewer district, which will maintain a small office in one wing.

The Rotary matching grant is the largest single contribution to the Fort Ward Community Hall campaign to date.

Friends of Fort Ward has previously secured grants and donor-advised contributions from the Bainbridge Island Parks Foundation, the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation, the Seattle Foundation, and the Kitsap Community Foundation. Leading island businesses including Town & Country Markets, Bainbridge Island ACE Hardware, and Bainbridge Heating & Air have also contributed.

A full roster of contributing individuals, organizations and local professionals can be found here. The site also includes pledge sheets and other information on the community hall project.

New pledges are being sought to help secure the Rotary match and additional grant funding now in process from other sources. Pledges received by early May can be counted toward a potentially large state grant now being pursued by Friends of Fort Ward.

To schedule a tour of the historic Fort Ward bakery building and learn more about the project, email fortwardhall@gmail.com.