A lesson in listening | In Our Opinion

  • Monday, January 8, 2018 7:30am
  • Opinion

It really wasn’t that complex.

The three newest members of the Bainbridge Island City Council made good on a campaign promise this week and voted to kill the controversial proposal to build a $3 million pedestrian-bicyclist bridge over Highway 305 near Vineyard Lane.

The 5-2 vote came after two hours of public testimony, much of it in favor of the bridge.

Supporters said the bridge would be a vital connection to linking two sides of Winslow split by the highway, and the bridge itself — which would create a new access point to the Sound to Olympics Trail — had been talked about for more than a decade.

But while the bridge enjoyed a bit of local support — from islanders anxious about climate change and eager to get people out of their cars, to some walkers and cyclists — it was viewed by most as an expensive boondoggle in the wrong place and at the wrong time.

Yes, the city’s share of the project, roughly $1 million in general fund money, could and should be spent elsewhere. The suggestion for more immediate roadside improvements for walkers and cyclists is one worthy idea, but let’s not forget we still have a much more needed piece of public infrastructure in the pipeline that lacks adequate funding: a new police station.

Many of those who spoke at this week’s council meeting urged the council to delay its decision, so new council members could become more informed about the proposed 305 bridge.

That mood was mirrored by Councilman Mike Scott, who called the public’s nickname for the proposed span, the “Bridge to Nowhere,” a “mindless phrase” and complained that the debate over the bridge had been “not a very thoughtful discussion.”

Truth be told, the bridge debate was pretty simple stuff. In the real estate world, the mantra is “location, location, location.”

Same here with the 305 span. The “Bridge to Nowhere” label stuck, and stung, because it rang so true.

Councilman Scott said he hoped his new council colleagues would be open to accepting new information in their spots on the dais, some of which will no doubt be different than what they’d heard on the campaign trail.

Our view comes a different perspective. We hope Councilman Scott and the rest of the council not forget or discount what they’ve been told by the public, outside of council chambers or the bubble of committee meetings.

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