Keep the momentum

The most fitting comment of the day was also the most succinct: “Wow.”

About 180 folks turned out for Monday’s presentation by the Winslow Way Property Owners Association, filling the council chambers and spilling out into the foyer beyond. The interest in and enthusiasm for a presentation by Bill Isley and others involved in planning a rejuvenated downtown was palpable. As Larry Nakata wryly observed, that kind of turnout in the town square used to be reserved for a public hanging; he hoped the analogy was not direct.

It was not. Merchants and others seemed to embrace proposals that included roundabouts, parking structures, pedestrian enhancements and low-impact utility work; excellent comments from the audience included requests for more traffic calming, transit options and links to the waterfront. And they voiced a need for a clearer funding picture, so grand designs aren’t felled by shock if citizens are asked to support a bond.

As several observed, the challenges now appear to be twofold: taking the project to islanders at large for review and comment – and, where funding is concerned, “buy-in” – and maintaining the momentum at City Hall. Indeed, the gathering suggested wide interest in keeping Winslow Way and surrounding streets a dynamic commercial hub, trumping the narrow-interest projects that sometimes crowd our civic agenda. We hope our elected officials will take the cue, and focus on these tangible challenges in the coming year.

Those who didn’t make it to the event should look for it on Bainbridge Island Broadcasting, which was there with cameras rolling. We think you’ll be hearing (and reading) a lot about our downtown in the coming months.

Band aid 2

Six weeks ago in this space, we called readers’ attention to a new fund drive to outfit the Bainbridge High School marching band with proper instruments.

Participation in the hugely popular program has outpaced the available arsenal of brass and woodwinds, leaving some students to use borrowed or semi-functional instruments, and others to tread about the football field brightly uniformed but haplessly mute.

The goal was $90,000, for instruments that will be owned by the school district and used for all band instruction programs. Organizer Wendy Danzig reports that the drive has to date raised about $45,000 in cash, while Poulsbo’s Mills Music has pledged $5,000 in credit each year for the next five years. Several grant applications are pending, putting the funding summit in sight.

The fund drive has been notable not so much for the contributions of a few big wheels, but rather widespread community interest. While one generous Ericksen Avenue office wrote a check for $5,000, the many smaller contributions are making the difference. Creative students have organized music recitals in their homes for families and neighbors, then passed the hat to good effect.

“It’s not like we’ve had major hits,” Danzig told us. “It’s been kids giving a couple of bucks. Most (contributions) are around $100 bucks, or $50.”

The fund drive wraps up this week. And while new instruments have yet to be purchased, the community gets an early payoff as outfits including the concert band, wind ensemble and jazz band display their talents in a free winter concert at 7 p.m. Dec. 18 in Paski Gymnasium at BHS.

In Danzig’s words: “We want the supportive community of Bainbridge to come and hear these wonderful children play.”

Hear, hear.

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