Do we want a downtown we can use? | Letter to the editor

Do we want a downtown we can use? | Letter to the editor

To the editor:

No, we don’t have a parking problem in Winslow — as long as no one expects people who live on the island to come into Winslow for goods or services. We don’t have a parking problem in Winslow if everyone agrees that Winslow exists for the enjoyment of walk on visiting pedestrians.

Of course we could increase bus service on the island, and add more bike lanes. But no one can expect people who live outside of Winslow to take a bus into town and lug home six bags of groceries on a bus; or to walk several miles into town to have lunch with a friend; or to walk to town to do their banking.

It simply isn’t going to happen. Our demographic is heavily weighted in elderly persons who are not all bike riders. We have families who require services and have goods to haul. We have residents who like their cars and value their independence.

I moved here in 1971. There were a little over 7,000 people living here. We’re closing in on 28,000. There are the same number of arterial roads we’ve had for over half a century. The roads are now crowded and congested. Parking in Winslow is a challenge. Parking at the ferry terminal lots can be challenging at certain times of day. With increased road congestion, additional time needs to be allowed to drive into town. Additional time is required to drive to Poulsbo.

Yes — we have an increasing population base, we have congested roads, and we have a parking problem. Look at the amount of additional housing units being built right now in Winslow. The “urban core” is continuing to expand beyond what we thought was defined as the “urban core.”

This isn’t going to change. The demand for parking in Winslow is going to continue to increase even more. As it is, because of parking challenges and congestion, a great many residents simply don’t go into downtown Winslow during certain times of the day, and especially during the summer months.

If the residents of the island feel that having the downtown Winslow core enhances their quality of life and/or their property value, they may want to address the availability of parking if we’re going to continue to have a town. If the parking situation is ignored, residents will increasingly just stop going into town. We’ve already lost 90 parking spaces just since the revision of Winslow Way, and more on-street parking disappears with every new construction. It’s totally insane that this isn’t being acknowledged, addressed, and supported by the people who live here.

Let’s face it: Islanders are wedded to their cars. For years we didn’t have any public transportation. You needed a car, a bicycle, or a horse to get around. Well, that stuck. People here have cars. Even many of the kids don’t ride the school buses — look at the number of mommies who drive their kids to school, and look at the number of parking spaces at the high school for students and teachers. These people are not riding buses, biking, and walking. They’re driving cars. Look at the size of the parking lot for city employees. Look at the number of business professionals and retail establishments which have chosen to locate in the downtown core. I would be willing to bet that city employees, city council members, and Winslow business owners and employees have cars, and that they’re not walking to work, to run errands, to buy groceries, or to attend meetings.

If island residents are going to support the Winslow downtown core, they will need to have places to park their cars. You can’t dictate behavior. People are not going to give up the convenience of their cars. They will simply drive to the Village, or off island to fulfill their needs for goods and services. Period. That’s just the way it is and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

So, there you have it. Do we want to have a downtown core that can serve the residents of the island or not? Pretty much boils down to exactly that.

LINDA ALLEN

Bainbridge Island

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