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Gateway area looking for a facelift

Only one corner of four is landscaped, and the extent of the public art is the banners and kids’ murals on a fence surrounding a vacant lot.

Informational signs are few, and after the ice cream store, it’s one long block before any signs of commerce and culture resume.

Yet for ferry visitors, this is the “gateway” to Winslow and the island beyond. It is, many agree, less than welcoming.

“Right now when you get off the ferry, this could be any little Podunk Town USA,” said Kevin Dwyer, executive director of the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce. “It really doesn’t say, ‘Welcome to Bainbridge Island, here’s what we have downtown.’ It would be nice to freshen that up.”

Agreed Will Langemack, a Wing Point architect:

“It’s an area that is waiting to have something happen. What you’re seeing there is a fence. It needs some enhancement.”

Sprucing up Winslow Way, from the Highway 305 intersection to Ericksen Avenue, is the charge of a new city-appointed Gateway Committee.

Besides Langemack, who also serves as Team Winslow board vice president, the group will include architect and former planning commissioner Linda Mallin; Debbi Lester, Winslow resident and Public Art Committee member, and fellow committee member Randi Evans; Ralph Cheadle, representing the Bainbridge Island Historical Society; a representative of the Chamber of Commerce; and at least one ferry commuter.

Formation of the Gateway Committee was prompted by road improvement plans now under way by the public works department. That project likely will bring wider sidewalks and other enhancements similar to those across the highway, around the ferry terminal.

Mayor Darlene Kordonowy said it’s an opportunity to bring “visioning” into the design process before construction begins.

“It could be (decorative) railings, it could be brickwork, it could be an archway, it could be anything,” Kordonowy said.

The project is likely to include a new, aesthetically unified series of informational signs to guide visitors to businesses throughout Winslow.

“I think what we’re finding out is that most people, particularly if they get off the ferry, ...really don’t know where the downtown is,” Langemack said. “People come up to the intersection...and they do have a map, but they get disoriented... They lose their north-south-east-west.”

While the immediate changes will be seen in the ravine corridor, at least one corner of the Winslow Way/305 intersection is being considered for redevelopment.

A mixed-use project has been generally proposed for the southwest corner, a vacant lot once the site of a Unocal gas station. Unocal officials say they plan to clean up contaminated soils there and put the parcel on the market.

For Cris Beattie, Team Winslow executive director, that would be a significant step toward improving the corridor.

“Until that fence gets taken down,” she said, “we’re never going to feel like anything’s welcoming anyone.”

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A call is out for a consulting artist to work with the Gateway Committee to

provide “creative inspiration and conceptual suggestion” during design work.

Work is expected to run through May 2003, and carries a $20,000 commission with 1 Percent for Art

funding. Information: www.artshum.org

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