Madison work to move ahead -- News Roundup

Madison work to move ahead

The city council is unlikely to revisit a plan to put four pedestrian “refuge islands” on Madison Avenue, public works committee members said Monday.

The non-decision followed a lengthy meeting with fire officials, who had complained that the islands would hurt the response time of emergency vehicles heading into Winslow.

Ken Guy, fire department executive director, said the department is opposed to “engineered” traffic calming devices on primary response routes such as Madison and High School Road.

The Madison project, he said, raised broader policy questions that should be addressed over the coming year.

“Stacking (islands) up in a series will definitely calm traffic,” Guy said, “and slow us down.”

But pedestrian-safety advocates Marcia Rudoff and Orabelle Connally berated fire officials for getting involved in the decision-making process too late. Rudoff called the objections of Guy and fire commissioner Doug Johnson “insulting” to city engineers.

“(The plan) has been out there,” Rudoff said. “Where have you people been?”

The four islands would be situated between Madrona Way and Winslow way, near buildings said to generate significant foot traffic, including Winslow Green and the Pavilion.

The project was approved by the full council last month, but was returned to the public works committee docket by agreement of the council and administration for further review.

Based on comments from fire officials, engineers had already narrowed the proposed islands by two feet each. Councilman Bill Knobloch noted that the reconfigured project would give 18 feet of space from curb to island, which he maintained was enough room for emergency vehicles to pass motorists at the shoulder.

“You’re going to get there,” Knobloch said, “and we’re going to get the heck out of the way.”

After the discussion, he and Councilman Norm Wooldridge said they didn’t see any compelling reason to take the project back to the full council.

Wooldridge had earlier voted against the project, he noted, but only because a “roundtable” of architects and others is already looking at Madison as part of an overall “streetscape” plan for the downtown Winslow area.

The public works department is expected to put the project out to bid this month, for construction in fall.


****Hearing set for redistricting

Retention of a three-ward system for electing city council members got a tentative endorsement from the council’s finance committee, after discussion Monday afternoon.

But an array of options will be given fair consideration after an Aug. 14 public hearing, Councilman Bill Knobloch said.

The council is charged with reapportioning the island’s wards, based on the results of the 2000 census. Under state law, the wards must be approximately equal in population – in the case of a three-ward system, about 7,000 residents each.

Monday, simply abandoning the ward system and electing all council members “at-large” drew little support. Knobloch noted that islanders tend to identify with their neighborhoods, and call the representatives drawn from their area.

With all council members elected at-large, he asked rhetorically, “Who would you go to with a problem? You could wind up with five (council members) from South Beach.”

Likewise, the option of splintering the island into seven wards inspired little interest. The smallish “candidate pools” in each would lead to more uncontested races, city Finance Director Ralph Eells said.

Sentiment on the committee leaned toward retaining a three-ward system, with two council members elected from each. A seventh council member would be elected at-large. The system is touted as being closest to what island voters are accustomed to.

Also in play is a possible four-ward system, with three council members elected at-large.

But both options raise further questions, including possible higher campaign costs for those running at-large. Such candidates presumably would have to canvass the whole island for both the primary and general election.

Also, Councilwoman Lois Curtis raised the question of staggering council terms in the south and central wards, so voters there aren’t electing two representatives in the same year.

To do so, one of the south ward seats to be selected in 2003 would have to be a two-year position; likewise for one of the central ward seats to be selected in 2005.

The full council will take comment on the issue on Aug. 14.


****Fort Ward fete Saturday

Navy radio operators and cryptographers who worked at Fort Ward during World War II will be honored Saturday, in a ceremony to dedicate the fort’s old parade ground as a public park.

The dedication ceremony will be at 1 p.m. Aug. 10, in the new three-acre park bounded by Fort Ward Hill Road and Park View Drive.

The ceremony will be preceded by exhibits and “hands-on history” booths open at 11:30 a.m.

The U.S. Postal Service will offer a special one-day-only pictorial stamp cancellation honoring Fort Ward. Performing will be the U.S. Navy Northwest Region Band and Color Guard, with speakers including Congressman Jay Inslee, Mayor Darlene Kordonowy, Kitsap County Commissioner Chris Endresen, and a representative from the Navy.

Built for the U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps to guard Puget Sound almost 100 years ago, the fort’s 15 minutes of fame came after it was converted into a Naval Radio School and Naval Intelligence Interception Station in the late 1930s.

Code-named “Station S,” Fort Ward was a top secret listening post, first assigned to listen in on communications from Tokyo to the Japanese Ambassador in Washington, D.C. Thanks to the Navy’s work at Fort Ward, the government was able to decode the message that instructed the Japanese Ambassador to break off negotiations on Dec. 7, 1941 just after dawn in Hawaii.

After Pearl Harbor, radio operators there continued to listen in on Japanese radio transmissions, recode them, and send them on to the Secretary of the Navy in Washington, DC. The intelligence gathered from these interceptions code-named “Magic” played an important role in Navy deployment decisions, as well as in the shooting down of Japanese General Yamamoto’s plane.

The park is being created as part of a 20-home development through a cooperative effort between the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority, the city, and other groups.

Information: 842-8293.

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