“Mayor, staff must step up to the plate”

"In the baseball world, a brand new stadium is no guarantee of a competitive team.But in the civic sphere - where quality of service rather than batting average is the measure, and general public satisfaction puts one high in the standings - a city is competing only against itself, and defining its own standard of play."

  • Wednesday, February 16, 2000 10:00am
  • News

“In the baseball world, a brand new stadium is no guarantee of a competitive team.But in the civic sphere – where quality of service rather than batting average is the measure, and general public satisfaction puts one high in the standings – a city is competing only against itself, and defining its own standard of play.Forgive us the sports analogy – our thoughts are occasioned both by the pending campaign in the Mariners’ grand new stadium (we like their chances), and our city’s first season in the new Bainbridge Island City Hall.So it’s opening day, the building’s marvelous and the fans are in the stands anxious to watch the play. Now it’s up to Dwight Sutton’s lineup to put on a good showing at the plate.Batter up!We predicted on this page several years ago that, price notwithstanding, islanders would be more than satisfied with the new city hall. Now, having meandered its halls over the past few days and seen the logic of its organization, we’re confident that will prove true. The contentious, decade-long process of site selection, design and construction has reaped a splendid civic center that will serve our community for decades to come. Its location in the downtown core will buoy our business district, and reinforce the pedestrian-orientation called for in our comprehensive plan.So what’s not to like?We are, to be sure, somewhat troubled by the accounting – just what is this thing costing, anyway? When someone has final numbers, we’d like a full report. And we’re sure someone will come out of the woodwork with other complaints. To a few, the building will always represent waste, mismanagement, or some other bromides reflecting a general contempt for public service. The same folks who demand that government should be run like a business will condemn the building as extravagant.That’s somewhat ironic, because no self-respecting business would have endured the old city hall building for any length of time. It was a blight and a disgrace, long past its prime and far too small to serve the community’s needs. Moreover, spreading city employees all over the island created senseless inefficiency, and we dare say, contributed to something of a bastion mentality in some of the remote departments.But now it’s a new season. And the challenge for Mayor Dwight Sutton, Administrator Lynn Nordby, the department heads and their staff is to prove that all the money was well spent. To reaffirm their commitment to the citizens of Bainbridge Island. To parlay their new proximity into new efficiency. To translate that fine new building into a renewed sense of pride, of purpose, of service to the Bainbridge community.What do the fans want?To pay their bills and fees easily – without trudging all over town, or even the building.Help and information – without being fobbed off on someone else in another department.The right answer – the first time.Permits – and soon.There was no getting around the need for a new city hall, and its great selling point has always been efficiency. Now we have it, and like a modern ballpark, it’s big, it’s expensive, it’s comfortable. And it’s about time.Now it’s up to Sutton and the rest of his team to give the ball a good whack and see where it lands.”

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