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City gets out of the way | IN OUR OPINION
City of Bainbridge Island officials seem to have struck the proper balance between allowing commercial use of downtown sidewalks and the need for shoppers to walk through Winslow without feeling like they are navigating a crushing gauntlet made of merchandise and other visitors.
The city has received complaints in recent months from a few downtown visitors who have raised concerns about merchandise racks and other displays crowding the sidewalks along Winslow Way.
Rather than sweeping the streets free of all of the attractive distractions along the sidewalks of the city’s main retail drag, however, the city seems to be taking a minimalist approach instead and insisting on the preservation of a five-foot-wide path in front of downtown storefronts and businesses.
On the surface, this seems to be the sensible approach. When the new regulations are adopted by the council, the city will find compliance with state law on allowing adequate access for walkers while giving downtown merchants the outside space they need to entice shoppers and customers.
Downtown business owners gave up a lot during the reconstruction of Winslow Way, and it’s encouraging to see that merchants won’t be asked to sacrifice again in response to the few random complaints from some who feel they have been inconvenienced by having to step aside for other shoppers or downtown visitors who pause to peruse Winslow’s wares or grab a table outside to enjoy a meal.
Busy sidewalks that are crowded with visitors amid an economically healthy downtown indicates a future that all of Bainbridge should support.