Council balks on Winslow plans - News Roundup

A sharply divided City Council declined Wednesday to commit the city to a Winslow Way planning effort being pushed by downtown property owners, expressing concern that the process appeared to be stacked in favor of business interests and saying that the issue ought to be considered as part of the budget process.

The council did, though, narrowly agree to a more ambiguously worded resolution that some said would accomplish the same thing as the defeated measure.

At issue is how the city is going to follow along once the business community and the Bainbridge Architects Collaborative completes a business-friendly plan for Winslow Way, at a cost of $75,000 in private money.

The resolution, unanimously recommended by the council’s public works committee, called on the city to commit $75,000 to a subsequent city planning effort. The city money would not go to the private group, but rather, to support the city’s efforts to evaluate the business plan, take the necessary public comment, make whatever revisions the City Council deemed appropriate, and incorporate those aspects of the plan, if any, that the council approved.

That apparent level of commitment sparked protests from some members of the arts community, who wanted earlier public participation, a theme picked up by the four council members who are not on the public works committee.

“They are asking us to confirm that we will incorporate what the business community offers without knowing what that is,” said Debbie Vancil.

Dr. Thomas Hagger, who owns the land leased to the clinic, defended the proposal.

“We’re not asking the city to give us money. We are offering to do half the job for you, if you commit to doing the rest of it.

The resolution was defeated 4-3, with Vancil, Deborah Vann, Michael Pollock and Christine Rolfes opposed.

A substitute proposed by Rolfes to support setting $75,000 aside for planning on Winslow Way passed 4-3, with Lois Curtis, Rolfes, Vancil and Vann supporting it.

The actual appropriation will be made during the budget process.

Bill Knobloch, a strong supporter of the business community’s efforts, said the council’s action won’t make any difference.

“The money (for the city’s planning) is already in the budget,” he said. “I don’t know why we needed the resolution.”

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