A chance for fixes on two projects

The Bainbridge Island City Council had a productive meeting this week. Well, sort of.

t Both Winslow Way and Wing Point Way could get repairs.

The Bainbridge Island City Council had a productive meeting this week. Well, sort of.

Winslow Way’s improvement project is a go. Wing Point Way’s redo is a maybe. And it appears an ordinance that would issue somewhere between $1.5 and 2 million in bonds to pay for ongoing capital projects also has enough votes to pass, pending the outcome of an Aug. 27 public hearing. (See story on page A3.)

Wednesday’s four-hour meeting tried the patience of the council, mayor, staff and the few members of the audience who stuck it out. But, with the recent completion of the public hearing on the two road issues, it was time the council made a decision on the projects.

As Mayor Darlene Kordonowy put it: “These decisions have been haunting us for a long time, and they’re finally settled to some degree. Not perfect, but we’re moving forward.”

The usual 4-3 polarity on the council was on display throughout the evening, especially when the Winslow Way project was discussed. Bill Knobloch, Debbie Vancil and Kim Brackett still believe the proposed $11.3 million pricetag for fixing the main street is too much and that repairing Wing Point Way is more feasible. Generally, the trio thinks the Winslow Way plan is too ambitious for a city that has serious financial problems, and that fixing the sewer pipes would suffice for now.

“I don’t understand why we are pitting the projects against each other,” Vancil said. “We can do both with the federal funds if we just take care of the safety and utility issues.”

But Barry Peters, Hilary Franz, Chris Snow and Kjell Stoknes voted to allocate $2.5 million for Heery International to begin the Winslow Way project, which is scheduled over three years. The federal funds had already been granted for road improvements on Winslow Way, Wyatt Way and Wing Point Way – all for more than $800,000 – with funding for the latter two now going to the Winslow Way project.

Franz argued that it’s time to finally fix the primary road through the city’s business center, saying that it has a cracked sewage main, a leaking stormwater pipe and fire safety issues because of water-flow problems. “I don’t think we can wait any longer,” she said, adding that the time has also come to address Wing Point’s deteriorating “collector” road.

“I believe both need to be done, but I don’t think the best way is to federalize both projects,” Franz said. “I support putting the grants together. But I’d like a different approach for Wing Point Way.”

She offered a motion that would address Wing Point Way’s safety needs with funds from the city’s road preservation fund, which is used to maintain exiting roads. She suggested that by amending the 2009-14 Capital Facilities Plan (CFP), the city could allocate money from the preservation fund to design (2009-10) and fix (2010-11) Wing Point Way during a three-year period beginning next year.

Public Works Direct Randy Witt said the base figures – including inflation – for the fund are $865,000 in 2009, $936,000 in 2010 and $1.012 million in 2011. The estimated cost to repair Wing Point Way, which hasn’t been receiving preservation funds for many years because its repair has been a priority for nearly two decades, is $1.9 million.

“Our maintenance money has been deferred from Wing Point in the past and now its time for it to stop waiting and get it’s share of the preservation fund,” Franz said. “This approach is a way to get both of these critical projects done in this community.”

Knobloch argued that “the city’s first responsibility is to keep our roads safe and clear, and taking the money for a CFP project, while well intentioned, threatens our basic infrastructure. It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul.”

Vancil, however, was intrigued by the proposed solution. She wanted more input from Witt and his staff, including more details on other road projects that need maintenance and what would happen to them if Wing Point Way got the lion’s share of the funding over a three-year period. She amended the motion to have staff provide council with more information on the fund during its CFP workshop scheduled for Aug. 20.

Vancil, Knobloch and Brackett also argued that the project should be done over a two-year period because stretching it out over three years could escalate the cost. But Peters and Snow countered that the design for the repair needs to be redone, and trying to complete the project in two years would put undue stress on staff resources and possibly gut the preservation fund.

The council haggled over the proposal for about an hour, but eventually the amended motion passed unanimously. The response was brief applause from about a half-dozen people in the audience, who had once again came to plead for the repair of Wing Point Way’s deteriorating infrastructure.

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