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Downtown looks forward -- News Roundup

The Winslow of the future – one vision of it, at least – will be revealed at a community meeting this month.

What is being called the Winslow Way Urban Design Implementation Plan will be presented in a public workshop from 3-5 p.m. Dec. 15 at City Hall.

The event will be hosted by the newly formed Winslow Way Property Owners Association, in cooperation with Winslow Way businesses, the city, the Chamber of Commerce, the Bainbridge Island Downtown Association, and the Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council and its Public Arts Committee.

The plan is an urban design proposal for Winslow Way between the highway and Wood Avenue.

The proposal addresses issues related to land use, pedestrian connections, traffic and circulation, parking, public infrastructure and opportunities for public art.

Bainbridge Architects Collaborative and Browne Engineering are the consultants preparing the plan, which “reflects a broad spectrum of public comment, as well as adopted island-wide and downtown general plans,” organizers said in a news release.

The meeting is being held to present the design proposal to the public, and to allow community members to provide further design ideas, ask questions and identify areas of concern.

City planning staff will be on hand to provide information on city policies and regulations.

The meeting is organized under the city’s public participation program, with the goal of providing the public with accurate and timely information about projects, and to allow early public participation on those projects. Information: Kathy Cook, 842-2552.

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***Police track smash-n-grabs

Police are investigating a rash of thefts from vehicles in the Winslow area, some of which have seen windows smashed out to gain entry in broad daylight.

Two thefts were reported in the Bainbridge Aquatic Center parking area last Saturday afternoon.

One victim found the wing window of her GMC pickup broken out, and a large, saddlebag-like purse stolen.

While an officer was on the scene, a second vehicle with similar damage was observed. The owner was contacted inside the building, and found that her purse too had been stolen.

The third theft occurred late Monday morning in the Safeway parking lot. A vehicle’s rear window was smashed out, and a makeup bag stolen.

The owner, who was shopping when the theft occurred, said the large bag looked like a purse, but actually contained only toiletries valued at $20. Damage to the vehicle was estimated at $270.

Other thefts from unlocked vehicles were reported in the downtown area, police said. Vehicle owners are urged to lock their cars and use car alarms, even if they only plan to be away for a short time.

Anyone with information on the thefts or who observes suspicious activity around parked vehicles is asked to call police at 842-5211.

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***WSF concedes on concessions

In a move designed to attract a wider range of food, beverage and retail vendors, Washington State Ferries has relaxed its requirements for new concessionaires.

Under a revised Request For Proposals distributed last week, WSF will consider small vendors who couldn’t meet earlier, more stringent bid requirements.

“We’re opening up for vendors to make proposals across the board, and are looking for the vendors that will provide the best fit,” said Brian Volkert, WSF manager of business development.

WSF will still require that bidders have an existing business or some experience in a given area.

But it opens the door for individuals to open small businesses on a single ferry route rather than trying to serve the entire system.

“We allowed that before,” Volkert said of the individual bids. “But the difference now is flexibility. Before, we would insist on a 10-year contract with 11 percent of the gross (going to WSF). Now we will allow a shorter contract if that is more comfortable, and charge only 5 percent up to a certain level. After that, you might pay 15 percent.”

The change is aimed at attracting new concessionaires in three areas – on-shore food and beverage, news and book sales, and on-board food services – that have generated little interest from bidders since WSF decided to overhaul its contracts to generate more revenue for the system.

The current vendor, Sodexho, will cease cafe service on-board ferries at the end of year, leaving the WSF scrambling to provide short-term services.

Beginning Jan. 1, options for riders will be reduced to drinks and snacks from vending machines, or a stop at McDonald’s, which will continue to operate the restaurant at the Colman Dock.

A copy of the new concession contract is available online at www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries. Responses are due Jan. 31, 2004 with letters of intent due Feb. 10.

Even if new vendors are found, WSF estimates that full food and beverage service aboard ferries won’t be restored until late spring.

County writer Charlie Bermant contributed

to this report.

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