Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community

Construction of the Exclusion Departure Deck Begins

October 5, 2020

Built at the site of the historic Eagledale Ferry Dock, the Exclusion Departure Deck at the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial (BIJAEM) will be an evocative and poignant addition to this memorial of the first forced removal and exclusion of 120,000
Japanese Americans during WWII. The 45-foot cantilevered deck at the end of the existing 276-foot Memorial Wall walk, estimated to take several weeks to complete, is currently under construction.

“Once people have walked in the footsteps of history at the Memorial Wall, tracing the steps of the first Japanese Americans in the nation to be forcibly removed in WWII, the Exclusion Departure Deck will complete their journey of discovery where our friends and neighbors left the island, facing an unknown future and fate.”

Val Tollefson, President

The announcement of the groundbreaking for the Departure Deck is the culmination of years of effort put forth by members of BIJAEMA. Conceived as Phase Two in the development of the Exclusion Memorial, the Departure Deck has faced a series of challenges, in part, due to its location on the shoreline. Construction was once anticipated to begin in the Spring of 2019, however, the project has entailed numerous site surveys, a shoreline variance, a zoning variance, and thorough review by multiple government agencies. The building permit was finally issued in April, 2020, amidst the pandemic.

Departure Deck Plan

While the work of constructing the Departure Deck is underway, a parallel project has been launched by BIJAEMA. An ad hoc committee consisting of BIJAEMA and BIJAC volunteers has been meeting throughout the Fall to assist in the design process supporting the interpretive and artistic elements that will be included with this new phase of the Memorial. In partnership with Turner Exhibits, the design firm that assisted in the development of the Memorial Wall, the committee has been thoughtfully crafting the requirements for artwork and display elements that support the story telling that is so much a part of the Memorial.

A request for artwork proposals will be circulated, and BIJAEMA will be accepting responses from January 1 through February 15, 2021. Interested parties are encouraged to inquire at:

Through the darkness and dampness, construction of the deck continues. The construction is expected to be completed by the end of the year. The designers of the Exclusion Departure Deck—the third phase construction at the memorial site—are now designing the final phase, adding a Visitors Center, intimate outdoor amphitheater, ADA-accessible restrooms, and paved plaza on the upper site.

Clark Construction, LLC of Bainbridge Island was awarded the Exclusion Departure Deck Project, and funding for the project is made possible by a $187,668 National Park Service Confinement Sites Grant, in addition to generous private donations. Recently, the Nakao family of Bainbridge Island established the Kay and Sam Nakao Fund, which will support construction of additional phases of the Memorial. The Nakao family has pledged their generous support of this new Fund, and further donations will be gratefully received. Donate to The Kay and Sam Nakao Fund.

Read more about the history of the Exclusion Memorial here.

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