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Community Congress to convene

Congress is about to convene.

A Sept. 18 meeting being billed as the “First Convention” of the new Community Congress will formally launch an intensive, community-wide planning process for the future of downtown, Winslow Tomorrow.

The kick-off event, slated to run from 9 a.m. to noon at Bainbridge Cinemas in the Pavilion, was announced by the city administration this week.

A project logo was unveiled. Also named were key facilitators and leaders for six groups that will identify issues facing downtown, and a Community Congress more than 100 members strong to debate those issues.

A full congressional roster has been posted on the city website, www.ci.bainbridge-isl.wa.us.

“We have some great people coming forward,” said Sandy Fischer, project manager.

Facilitators and group chairs announced this week include:

• Multi-modal Transportation: Michael Read and Steve Soltar, facilitators; Kjell Stoknes and Miles Yanick, chairs.

• Parking: Bill Luria, facilitator; Jim Chapel, chair.

• Business and Development: Bill Miller, facilitator; Alice Tawresey and Stuart Walton, chairs.

• Funding and Economics: Chuck Depew, facilitator; John Waldo, chair.

• Character, Open Space, Arts, History and Culture: Julie Shryock, facilitator; Norm Davis and Janice Shaw, chairs.

• Sustainability/Ecology: Mara-del Gale, facilitator; John Wood, chair.

Facilitators will be charged with helping their group adhere to effective public process; chairs were selected for their expertise in a given field.

Committees will meet throughout the fall, at which point small teams will take begin to look at alternatives for the developing downtown.

Other groups may be formed during the process as participants settle into their roles.

“Every-body who’s a leader in this community was at one point an un-known,” Fischer said. “I don’t want to stifle the possibility of people who might emerge as leaders, emerging as leaders.”

The Win-s-low Tomorrow project was devised by the administration earlier this year, responding to calls from the business community for a new downtown planning effort to meet parking, transportation and economic development needs.

The possibilities were laid out nine months ago, in recommendations including parking garages, traffic circles, sidewalk improvements and other treatments devised by local architects under contract with downtowner owners.

A 20-40 year horizon is envisioned for public and private reinvestment and redevelopment in the Winslow core.

Officials hope that the public can reach, if not consensus, then what one facilitator described as “stable disagreement.”

“What’s important is that all points of view are represented, and that facilitators are objective enough that they can ensure (that),” Fischer said.

A series of speakers are planned at the kickoff event, to set the tone for the effort that will culminate with council review next year.

Mayor Darlene Kordonowy said the planning process will dominate the news in the coming months, now that behind-the-scenes work has been completed.

She admitted being stung recently upon learning that the somewhat slow-to-develop project was being called “Winslow Day After Tomorrow.”

She got over it .

“It’s creative, sarcastic Bainbridge at its best, to come up with such a great name,” Kordonowy said, vowing, “Soon they’ll be calling it ‘Winslow Express.’”

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