Opinion

Downtown vision: the timeless need

A week ago in this space, we ruminated on our community planning process coming full circle via the Winslow Tomorrow project.

And proving that where Bainbridge Island issues go, there really is nothing new under the sun, we’ve since then come across this commentary that appeared on the Review’s

editorial page on May 10, 1956. Downtown street needs, local business concerns, public financing questions, Winslow’s relationship with the greater island, and the quest for a common, community-wide vision. We have, at least settled the all-island government question – the very solution the editor prescribed:

“The matter of Winslow’s streets at last has been brought to a focal point by the blunt suggestion that if the town government can’t put them in good shape, the downtown should disincorporate and turn them back to the county...

“Winslow’s streets are a problem. There isn’t any argument about that. Save for Suicide Lane in Eagledale and the Country Club road...the streets in the island’s one incorporated town are the very worst on Bainbridge.

“This would remain only a provincial matter for the 756 residents of the town, except for one thing – the town’s location forces most of the rest of the 6,500 or more residents of Bainbridge Island to use Winslow’s streets. The town forms a “dam” around the ferry terminal for the Seattle ferry; because of its proximity to the ferry, Winslow contains the greatest present collection of commercial houses on the island.

“Fact of the matter is, the use of Winslow by most of us residents of this island is the reason for the trouble. The town’s 756 residents can’t begin to find enough tax revenues to maintain roads which daily take a beating from vehicles carrying up to 6,500 persons...

“Yes, this is a serious problem. We should imagine that there is a limit to the patience of the non-Winslow islander, loyal as he may be to the fine stores in Winslow and accustomed as he may be to shopping there. As his publisher, we hear his complaints and it seems to us they are growing louder. What’s more, we keep hearing interesting rumors of the likelihood of one or more new shopping centers being talked about for other locations on the island. If they should become reality one of these fine days, it would be most difficult for the finest store in Winslow to lure traffic over those miserable Winslow streets. The old adage of building a better mousetrap wasn’t written for an age where the smartest mousetrap salesmen set up their stores near fine roads, and with adequate parking spaces...

“There must be several alternatives and we don’t profess to see but a few of them. Included, however, would be these: (a) a town-wide extra tax levy to provide money for street rebuilding, but it surely would be a political miracle if the townspeople could be sold on that one; (b) heavy local improvement district assessments against abutting property, although there are too many vacant lots to make this a truly realistic suggestion; (c) disincorporate the town and, thus, regain a larger tax base for rebuilding the streets; (d) give up on Winslow as a commercial center and move businesses to new shopping centers; (e) a combination of some or all of these alternatives.

“Of course, there also is the suggestion originally made by this newspaper in 1941 for the municipal incorporation of all of Bainbridge Island. We ceased to urge that one after Winslow carved itself out of the island pie in 1947. We still think it is a good idea, however; it is the only one we’ve heard of which would weld the people of Bainbridge Island together for the common solution of their community problems – including the condition of the streets in the island’s presently largest commercial center.”

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