Winslow Green is getting a face-lift as part of an effort to make downtown’s signature open space a little more inviting, with a little help from a famous island author.
David Guterson, author of the award-winning novel “Snow Falling on Cedars” has been volunteering his time as a project manager with a group of organizers who have set their sights on revamping Winslow Green in hopes of drawing island residents and visitors back to the lawn and nearby shops.
“The purpose of this remodel is to reintroduce Winslow Green to the community,” said Bruce Weiland, president of the Winslow Green Condominium Association.
“Winslow Green is like the jewel of Winslow in many people’s eyes; it’s a rare open space right in the middle of town,” Weiland said.
“While it’s private property, it’s open for visitors. We want visitors to come play on the green, we want visitors to come and shop in the shops. We who live there view those visitors as part of our community,” he explained.
A major part of the project is the reworking of the entrance to allow for a more inviting atmosphere, something Weiland said was in need of some rethinking.
“One of the things that was impeding people from participating in the Green was we had a very small, under-scaled entrance here. You’d climb up some steps and suddenly you’d have to walk across the lawn and it was often wet,” he said.
“We’re hoping that with a series of steps and plazas and rocks and interesting landscaping features, that people are just going to be drawn back to the Green,” Weiland added.
The masterminds of landscape architecture behind the project are Sandy Fischer and Jeff Bouma of the Fisher Bouma Partnership.
The gazebo at the green, originally built by architect Bob Hobble, will also be getting some attention during the project. Posts are going to be added for extra support and the gazebo itself has been moved from the middle of the lawn, over to the side, to allow for a less obstructed view from the green to downtown Winslow.
Bouma said shifting the gazebo was a key part of giving the new space a more open and inviting feel.
“The gazebo and the railing that was around it, blocked some of the storefronts and the signs for the stores. The idea here was to open it up,” he said.
“We wanted to make it a little more inviting, a little more civic in scale,” Fischer added.
Arrow Mclain of McClain Landscaping has been the muscle behind the project, McClain and his crew have spent many days working in the mud and rain at the project site to guarantee that the project stays on schedule.
McClain said he was impressed with the amount of time being volunteered by all of those involved, as well as the focus they have placed on contribution to the community.
“That’s been the really cool thing about this project, just the time that people are volunteering, putting in; from the board and the designers and all of them,” McClain said.
“At all of the meetings, the priority has been on the betterment of the community, making it more welcome and usable,” he said.
One of those volunteers working to freshen up Winslow Green is Guterson, whose involvement with the project began last year.
When he first got involved, Guterson owned a unit in the nearby Winslow Green Condominiums, but he has since sold it.
Pointing to the gazebo, Guterson illustrated the possibility for collaboration from the Island’s woodworking community.
“On the gazebo here, you can see it doesn’t look very good,” he said.
“We’re hoping to entice local woodworkers and artists to get involved and help us improve it,” Guterson explained, which would be “an opportunity for community involvement in a place where artists and woodworkers can get good exposure.”
Guterson said that despite the fact that he’s no longer living at the Winslow Green Condominiums, he still feels a moral imperative to see the project through to its completion.
“It’s just how I was raised,” he said. “You make a commitment, you see it through.”
Also, Guterson said, “I have time, so why not?”
Organizers with the project are hopeful the new Winslow Green will be ready in time to be used by the public for the July 4 festivities.