Open space downtown?

A conceptual drawing of a new plaza next to a rebuilt Town & Country. - Courtesy of Winslow Tomorrow/City of Bainbridge Island
A conceptual drawing of a new plaza next to a rebuilt Town & Country.
— image credit: Courtesy of Winslow Tomorrow/City of Bainbridge Island

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of articles presenting images from the downtown planning seminar, and exploring the issues raised.

That’s among the ideas to come out of the Winslow charrette.

As the seeds of development grow in Winslow, many residents are looking ahead to ensure that expanding blocks of concrete don’t overtake the public spaces and green sanctuaries that make an urban existence livable.

A recent design charrette sponsored by Winslow Tomorrow marked the preservation and growth of open space as one of its seven guiding principles.

During the two-day event, business people, conservationists, landscape designers and architects crafted a statement encouraging “a variety of green, open space and gathering places that connect, protect, define and bind.”

As one of the downtown’s primary destinations, many designers drew up sketches that illustrate a large gathering space near Town & Country Market.

“If you go downtown you’re probably going to go to T&C,” said architect Eric Schmidt. “People gather there already, upstairs on the patio or in the coffee area. We wanted to add on to that.”

One design features an expanded and remodeled market with underground parking. In place of the market’s west-side parking lot, designers imagined an expansive, street-level courtyard dotted with trees, umbrellas and tables.

Unlike most gathering spots on Winslow Way’s south side, the courtyard design would not be cast in the shade of nearby buildings, said architect Peter O’Connor. The courtyard could become downtown’s primary gathering spot because of its link to T&C and because people tend to gather in sunny areas.

Preserving green spaces downtown also ranked high on many charrette participants’ priority list.

Schmidt imagined Winslow Ravine as the focal point for preserved greenery in Winslow, with a few trails bringing residents out of the urban landscape and into a quiet refuge. He said the ravine closely fits the open space principle because it “defines” residents as part of the environment and “binds” them to their biological history.

One of Schmidt’s designs shows a bridge replacing the culvert and fill that now span the ravine along Winslow Way.

He believes a bridge would improve the environmental quality of the area by allowing fish and other wildlife to pass through more easily. It would also allow people to travel through via a shore-to-downtown trail connection.

Some expanded on the idea of open spaces linked by pedestrian trails.

One illustration imagines an “emerald necklace” linking the ravine to paths on the highway’s west side. Trails would extend north as far as New Brooklyn Road where a long, arching band of green space would carry walkers and bikers to a Grow Avenue path. This trail would complete the circle, taking travelers south to Waterfront Park.

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