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Fischer named planning czar for downtown

The community design expert will lead a 75-member ‘Congress.’

Landscape architect and community design specialist Sandy Fischer will serve as manager for the Winslow Tomorrow downtown planning project.

Her selection was announced Tuesday by Mayor Darlene Kordonowy, after a weeks-long review process that included top city officials, citizens and council members.

A relatively new island resident, Fischer brings expertise from her 20 years as principal of Fischer and Associates, a Montana-based planning and landscape architecture firm.

“It’s great to have someone who’s somewhat familiar with the community, but not entrenched in any of the solutions we’ve been talking about,” Kordonowy said.

Fischer will lead city staff, consultants and a new “Community Congress” to develop a broad plan to enhance Winslow’s downtown core.

The planning project follows proposals earlier this year by merchants and property owners, calling for a series of parking garages, pedestrian improvements, traffic roundabouts and other treatments to maintain a vibrant Winslow Way and keep anchor businesses from moving elsewhere.

Fisher, who currently serves as design studio director for EDAW, an international firm that does community planning and urban design, was not available for comment Tuesday.

She was selected for the $80,000-per-year, two-year post, from among 35 applicants.

All finalists had “impressive experience with projects of this scale,” Kordonowy said.

The panel recommended Fischer because of her experience working with volunteers, developing community consensus and “gaining support from decision makers.”

Her past projects are said to have included downtown areas, parks, open space, transportation corridors, gardens and mixed-use developments.

The mayor also noted that Fischer had often been hired to carry projects through the construction phase.

“She delivers a product people are willing to live with and accept and move on to building,” Kordonowy said.

Yet to be named are facilitators for the six branches of the Community Congress, which will deal with traffic, non-motorized access, parking, the downtown “character,” business implications, and financing.

Those individuals reportedly have been selected, but their names were not released as not all have been notified.

Appointees to the Community Congress itself, which could be 75 members strong, are also expected to be named in the next few weeks.

At the end of the planning effort, the Bainbridge Island City Council will be called on to settle on a final design for downtown improvements, expected to take years to implement.

Utility improvements are also badly needed in the corridor, and will be included in the effort.

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