Council joins downtown effort

t Move ahead, several urge.

City council members Monday pledged their support for a planning process that could bring parking garages and roundabouts to downtown Winslow.

“It’s a marriage without a divorce,” Councilman Bill Knobloch said of the Bainbridge community’s relationship with local businesses.

The declaration, echoed by several council members, followed a presentation by architect Bill Isley to a packed hall. Representing the new Winslow Way Property Owners Association, Isley reprised a pitch made in the same venue last month.

Central to the plan are parking garages, roundabouts at key intersections, a new retail alleyway behind Winslow Mall, sidewalk treatments, and low-impact utility upgrades. Property owners say the improvements are needed to accommodate patrons and allow businesses to grow.

While some specifics were challenged, the audience was generally supportive of the concepts.

Several, including Jane Allan, called for extra emphasis on pedestrian amenities, which brought reassurances from Isley.

“People drive like gangbusters once they pass T&C,” Isley said. “The whole point is to slow (traffic) down.”

Dane Spencer was one of several who questioned a proposal to dig a parking garage under Bjune Drive, cutting into Waterfront Park in a treed area now the site of a children’s play area.

Others said the plan needs to take into account nearby streets – reclaiming Madison Avenue for pedestrians and parking, mitigating traffic impacts on Grow Avenue. The need for more public input was a common theme.

Still others, though, said the proposals represented not a finished product, but a starting point that will be refined throughout the coming year.

Councilwoman Deborah Vann urged the council to formalize a timeline and move forward, a sentiment shared by the audience.

“To execute on vision takes a lot of courage,” said Chris Otorowski, a Winslow attorney and property owner, “because there’s a lot of naysayers out there.”

The presentation will be shown on Bainbridge Island Broadcasting throughout the month.

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