Council agrees with Design Review Board recommendations for Waterfront Park

The Bainbridge city council has given its second nod of approval for the Waterfront Park and city dock redesign, but this time on the Design Review Board's terms.

The city's Design Review Board described several areas for improvement after seeing the consultants' initial 15 percent design last month.

"From my observation, I think that the Design Review Board's suggestions really do pretty much address or absorb those public comments and were acting independently of that," said Councilman Val Tollefson.

At the top of the list of recommendations, the design team will be required to rethink its zig zag pathways.

The board explained that the consultants will need to explore the circulation of the park and its connections from Town & Country Market. This includes revising the network of zigzag staircases between each terrace of the park.

"I am very comfortable with this notion of exploring circulation alternatives," Councilman Wayne Roth said.

"I have not heard any one in favor of the switchbacks. Of all the feedback, there's no one in favor," he said.

The board recommended that the hill climb stair system should instead follow a more natural or curvilinear progression rather than a zigzag.

Second on the list of recommendations, the landscape plan will need to be submitted as part of the 30 percent blueprints of the park which identify tree removal, defined spaces, site furniture, natural play areas and historic and pathway signage.

As for the main gathering place in the park, the consultants will need to reconsider the placement of the performance area to give a more appealing backdrop than a boathouse.

In addition to the main gathering space — a major facet of the park and one that has received considerable commentary — is the city dock. Some residents fear there will not be enough space for the transient and local boating community, while others fear overdeveloping it will result in a "boat parking lot" in front of a trademark vista.

Since presenting the conceptual design, the consultants have reworked the dock to include additional piers extending east of the original hockey stick design.

Several council members were at odds with the reconfiguration.

"I kind of thought that when we saw the rest of the design going forward on the dock, we weren't going to see anything but the hockey stick," Tollefson said. "I personally think that anything other than a hockey stick is a distraction and probably not a wise use of their time at this point."

Councilman Steve Bonkowski agreed.

"Anything beyond a hockey stick, I think moves us in a different direction in terms of creating a marina or having the opportunity to create a marina," he said.

In the board's case, the most important considerations the consultants must include for the first phase of design is providing dock access for all types of users and incorporating safety measures.

Lastly the board advised that the consultants should include a depiction of all of its built elements in its 30 percent design.

This would include the park entry, shelters, natural trail system, picnic pavilion and play areas.

Overall, the board said, the park lacks a central theme or cohesive vision, and the recommendations should work to improve this.

In addition to the board's input, the council asked that the dock design be reset to the original hockey stick arrangement and further consideration be given to the boat launch.

To free up space at the park, Bonkowski suggested that the consultants could explore the potential of moving the launch to another part of the island.

"I think it's worthwhile," Bonkowski said.

"If you can't do it, you can't do it. But if you can, then it is worthy of further conversation."

In a general nod of approval, the council instructed Public Works Director Barry Loveless to deliver the board's recommendations and council's annotations to the design team.

The consultants will go in front of the Design Review Board a second time to present the 30 percent master plan on Monday, March 24.

During this second presentation, the design team will have the opportunity to show how the board's recommendations were implemented in the overall design before again bringing it to the council.

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