Top honors for Marge Center; sunny cycling

Bainbridgers get pretty skittish when our comfortable little island winds up in the sights of the big, ugly world outside.

Sometimes, though, it’s nice to be noticed. And this week, we’re pleased to pass along the news that our favorite community project, the Marge Williams Office Center, has been honored by the state Office of Trade and Economic Development.

We’ve tracked the development of “the Marge Center” in this space for four years or so; readers are certainly familiar with the building’s reclamation from a place of tragedy and loss to a new center for non-profit agencies and nexus for community enhancement. We found ourselves moved anew, though, by the words that helped earn the center top honors in a category called Best Economic Restructuring Story – Adaptive Reuse. We share some of those words here:

“The Marge Williams Center is located at the crossroads of commercial, residential, religious and service organizations. This is fitting, because crossroads create confluences which can change people’s thinking about how things are done.

“The Marge Williams Center project did just that... The project did not just ask people to give their dollars and a vote of confidence to proceed; it asked people to give of themselves so that they could see the fruits of their labors reflected back through something bigger than themselves...

“Every effort was valued and necessary, and in that it was an unprecedented project of this scale in our community.”

State officials agreed, and the center was one of nine projects honored at 16th annual Downtown Revitalization Training Institute, this past weekend in Port Townsend.

The Bainbridge community, and all those who offered their support, deserve to be very proud of their Marge Williams Center. This one will be tough to top.

Sunny cycling

We had occasion Saturday to put some air in the tires of the ol’ mountain bike and join Gordon Black, Dana Berg and other cycling advocates for what we’ll call “Tour de Winslow.”

The event drew 40 participants, including special guest Our Mr. Sun; the mayor and her husband rode, as did council members Norm Wooldridge and Christine Nasser, and state Rep. Phil Rockefeller.

Sponsored by Squeaky Wheels, the excellent tour was intended to give local officials a rider’s-eye view of conditions on local roadways. The route included Madison Avenue (where obnoxious round rocks had tumbled down from one business’s landscaping and into the bike lane), High School Road (bike lanes aptly described by Black as “slightly wider than my tire), Grow Avenue (no bike lanes at all), Winslow Way (cell-phone-yakking motorists pulling out of driveways, heedless of riders and other vehicles), and the roundabout (where some neanderthal in a passing car honked his horn and called the riders rude words).

Also on the itinerary was the ferry terminal, where bike commuters complained of the daily hare-and-hounds scenario of riders being chased off the ferry by roaring motorbikes. Bike shop guru Tom Clune offered the sensible solution that bicyclists be given the right lane all the way up Olympic Drive, and motorcyclists the left; Squeaky Wheels folks will be pursuing that proposal through ferry system channels.

The only drawback to the event was that it ended. Clouds heralded the dreary return of the work week, leaving us to think back wistfully on our perfect ride under blue skies.

We trust someone will ask Mr. Sun to come along for a ride again someday soon – perhaps for Bike to Work and School day this Friday.

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