COBI’s surprise move raises questions | Letter to the editor

To the editor:

I have attended two of meetings of the Island Center Subarea Planning Steering Committee as a member of the concerned public. Currently working through statements of vision and goals, the group has not yet determined the extent of the Island Center Subarea Planning area.

At the most recent meeting the committee was informed by the planning director that the city had advertised for a consultant, received proposals, conducted interviews of short-listed firms and subsequently selected an outside planning consultant for Island Center. I observed that this came as a surprise to the citizen committee members. They questioned their role in the Island Center planning process and in the city’s lack of transparency in soliciting and hiring a consultant. They further questioned the planning director about the scope of the work and budget for this city consultant. “To be determined” was the response.

Does the city have unlimited coffers to hire consultants for undetermined scopes of work? Does the city council convene a citizen group and authorize city support staff while simultaneously soliciting and hiring a consultant for the same purpose? Will our citizens volunteer their time for future planning efforts if this is the process?

Let’s get our goals defined by our local constituency, not an outside consultant. Let’s decide the extent of this subarea plan based on those goals. Let’s demand transparency and accountability from the city regarding planning for our future. Per the city’s Comprehensive Plan, let’s seek to retain “the unique characteristics of the city’s designated centers and neighborhoods.”

LINDA MALLIN

Bainbridge Island

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