Might be time for a new standard

"Where's Winslow?With our five-year review of the Bainbridge Island Comprehensive Plan now under way - and, predicated as that plan is on Winslow being the hub of future growth - we thought some definition of terms might be useful.After all, underpinning the whole comp-planning project has been the notion of putting 50 percent of future development in the Winslow area. As we found out, there has been some disagreement about the boundaries of our little urban growth area (within the larger, official UGA of incorporated Bainbridge), with hopes and perceptions varying. Our findings are relayed on page A1 of this issue.We'll not quibble over whether we're hitting that magical 50 percent mark (the last time anyone checked, the figure was 37 percent). Rather, for the sake of future discourse, we suggest that 50 percent in Winslow is simply no longer a useful yardstick for the comp-plan's success or failure.That's because to some minds it continues to suggest that anything built in the Winslow area is built to the exclusion of something elsewhere on the island. And as we've seen over the past five years, that's not the case.Instead, we've seen what amounts to a footrace between the downtown area and the rest of the island. New, high-density construction around town serves to validate the comp-plan - tilting the balance toward that 50 percent goal - even though nothing is really being preserved elsewhere.And with the abject failure of the transfer of development rights program - whereby density was to be shifted from around the island into receiving areas in the vicinity of Winslow - and attempts to force consolidation of small, non-conforming lots, we suspect we're seeing a net gain in island density. That might be worth taking a look at.If you're anxious about growth, is there hope?Several factors suggest the hammers and saws could slow a bit in the next few years. For one thing, we're roaring through the island's stock of buildable lots at an unforeseen rate; fewer construction opportunities mean fewer spec homes going up down the street (but, lamentably, higher prices for those that do). Also, the general economic cycle suggests that the Puget Sound area's decade-long boom must taper off at bit at some point. You won't see us out trying to hook up with a dot-com anytime soon.But either way, Bainbridge Island will continue to be a desireable place to live, and our rapidly changing landscape will continue to sprout new homes and new neighbors.So as we measure where we've been and where we're going, we hope the discussion puts some new wind in the sails for open space and park purchases, conservation easements and the like. As we've seen, the only guaranteed way to get the best of market forces is to outbid them.Where's Winslow?We have a pretty good idea, and we'll see it fleshed out over time. The challenge now is to make sure some semblance of non-Winslow remains everywhere else. "

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