Letters to the Editor

Letters

City government Make Streetscape a public-private deal

Tasked by the Bainbridge Island City Council to develop a funding package for the once $20 million and now $13 million Streetscape project, city administration is assigning most of the costs ($7.4 million) to utility customers. In addition, all island residents would contribute $5 million through non-voted council bonds which leaves $3.6 million unfunded for undergrounding power. Funding for the street amenities (trees, furniture, etc.) is being postponed to future conversations.

As was explained on March 20 by Council Finance Committee Chair Chris Snow, Winslow Way property owners have stated they do not want to participate in funding the under grounding project through a Local Improvement District (LID). Business owners fear increases in lease rates if property owners contribute. However, they all continue to press the city to solve downtown parking problems and continue in their support of the city doing the entire project, under grounding and all, in one big effort.

Following this line of reasoning creates a fundamental inequity. The manner in which property tax assessments on commercial properties are developed permits the sale of a property, at the market value enhanced by the improvements, long before any property tax reassessment comes due.

In this window, having made no other contribution to the improvements other than sharing in the utility rate increase, owners will have the opportunity to sell for that enhanced value.

The apparent acceptance of this outcome by administration by pressing to abandon plans to underground power is in direct contradiction to the recommendations of Winslow Tomorrow consultants, who noted that the most successful downtown projects always involve a combination of public-private financing.

In addition, city administration seems determined to disregard the clear statement in the current comp plan about improvements in specific districts requiring LID funding.

Here’s the math: A 20-year municipal bond for $3.6 million requires approximately $275,000 a year in principal and interest payments. From State Route 305 to Grow Avenue is nearly half a mile, which calculates out to about $50 feet per year. There are approximately 50 properties, some of which would be exempt as owners already paid for under grounding, but even with those few exemptions... now really?

As the council weighs how this undeniably important project measures up against many other undeniably important projects, perhaps they should take this position: “When property owners agree to share in the costs, we will set the project in motion” and in so doing establish balance and equity in the contributions to funding from citizens and property owners.

BOB FORTNER

Summer Hill Lane

Community

Other perspectives merit examination

“They did what was right” (April 2) cited a call from Ralph Munro and others for Mary Woodward’s “definitive telling” of events around Executive Order 9066. There is always room for thoughtful scholarship and analysis of history.

According to the article, Mr. Munro’s call for the Woodward telling came in response to a parental challenge to a controversial sixth grade curriculum, “Leaving Our Island.”

I am that parent. It is timely to remember what ailed the curriculum. The protest challenged the controversial curriculum on grounds of anti-American bias, heavily slanted ideology, lack of historical context, U.S.A. Patriot Act distortions and excessive length. The reverberations of the challenge echoed in the Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, Seattle Times, Tokyo Manichi Times, Kitsap Sun and the halls of BISD #303. As to the merits of the challenge, the Leaving Our Island curriculum was thereafter severely reduced in emphasis, duration, content and removed from sixth grade focus.

In the period since the challenge to the curriculum, a local documentary producer (Mary Victoria Dombrowski) has taken positive steps to capture the historical context through interviews with men and women who had first-hand experience with the issues surrounding EO-9066.

The War and MAGIC series, 20 segments, has been shown regularly on public-access television stations BITV and BKAT. The interviewees range from U.S. Navy personnel who lived on Bainbridge Island during WWII to a Japanese-interned West Point graduate whose father was killed in the Philippines and mother was a U.S. doctor in the Japanese internment camp in Manila. The documentary producer also captured extensive testimony, including public speeches at the memorial dedication that again raise questions about historical accuracy and context. Historical analysis requires careful and dispassionate scholarship and a full examination of all the facts in play.

JAMES M. OLSEN

Fort Ward

Hildebrand-Ericksen

Dismiss thought of Zombie Thru-Road

Many attempts have been made, in the decades since Island Village was built on High School Road, to put a road through from Hildebrand Lane to Ericksen Avenue, thereby destroying the pocket park originally built as a mitigation of the illegal destruction of a green belt in the building of the mall.

The persistent notion goes something like this: “Look, it’s a no-brainer, I could zip through there at 30 miles per hour if that *$#@ park wasn’t in the way.” Or, “I could be rich if more customers could drive through here faster...” Every seven years or so, the notion lurches to its feet and wanders dangerously through island politics.

Despite this, islanders who live in the neighborhood walk themselves, their children or dogs through the park, and those many commuters who bicycle through on their way to and from the ferry, continue to stand firm in their resistance to the certain ruination that would be caused by another incursion into the few green spaces left in Winslow.

There are many of us who do not live in Winslow, but who nevertheless value every non-motorized link in our island transportation infrastructure, and feel strongly that a road should never be put through there.

Let’s bury the Zombie Thru-Road. It’s threatening the life of our city by refusing to die.

B. SUE JOHNSON

Lynwood Center

Island needs this pedestrian pocket

I’ve been thinking (about) Tibet, global warming, elections in Zimbabwe, refugees, Iraq, energy consumption. Then there’s Ericksen/Hildebrand – whoa, is that one important?

Yes, maybe it is. So here’s what I thought:

1. There are two viable north/south connections (305 and Madison) that link Winslow with High School Road. Wyatt provides a good connection from Ricks to Madison. Winslow Way connects Madison to 305 and all business are reachable by automobile.

2. It is very important that the automobile not become the dominant mode of transportation in our small community where it is feasible and pleasant to reach any number of places on foot.

3. The existing park provides green space, gathering space and oxygen, and should not be compromised or traded for asphalt and pollution.

4. The Ericksen neighborhood offers a slower paced alternative to walkers and bikers. Transportation routes that give precedence to the automobile all begin to be built to the same standards and begin to feel the same. Our community should strive for a “texture” that speaks to our values. These values should reflect diversity on all levels.

5. If Winslow Way and High School Road are the two commercial bookends, what should be in between? How about lots of green, enough open space to feel like a healthy environment, a huge variety of uses, acknowledgment of the Eagle Harbor watershed, the ability for children to travel safely and threads of pedestrian trails that allow us the joys of being pedestrians.

MARYANN KIRKBY

Eagledale

Put chain across bank lot entrance

As a Winslow resident I agree with Jim Gleckler’s letter (April 3) that the Ericksen/Hildebrand pocket park should stay and Winslow should be less “car-centric” and more pedestrian/bike friendly.

Winslow is tasked with taking half of the growth on Bainbridge Island. It is not tasked with being an auto raceway to facilitate easy access for rest of the island. In return for taking half the growth the residents of Winslow need more pocket parks, gathering places, bike lanes and pedestrian amenities, not fewer.

The problem of cars snaking through the parking lots from and to Wallace Way is easily solved by a chain blocking the connecting road as was done a few years ago when the same problem developed at the Frontier Bank.

The reason cars are using this route has almost nothing to do with drivers going to and from the new businesses at the south end of the High School Road development. They are going to Safeway, Rite Aid, etc.

The real problem is that it is such a pain to exit the High School Road parking lot trying to turn west on High School Road. I have frequently sat there for several minutes waiting for a gap in the stream of cars heading east only to wait even longer because the middle turn lane is filled with cars trying to turn into the Safeway parking lot.

Cars avoid this inconvenience by snaking through to Wallace Way going south. Cars are also frequently backed up going north on Madison at the roundabout at the library, and Winslow Way between Ericksen and Madison is frequently slow going. Cars avoid the clog on Winslow Way by going up Ericksen and avoid the clog at the roundabout by snaking through to Wallace Way going north. Solve these underlying problems and the Wallace Way parking lot back door traffic will disappear. Easier said than done.

I was on the Winslow planning agency when the Ericksen/Hildebrand plug park was approved as an interim measure. At that time the area between Winslow Way and High School Road had just been rezoned as commercial. It was expected that as this area filled in with businesses, the pocket park would become a through road.

But a funny thing happened in the intervening years. Almost all of the development this newly rezoned area has turned out to be residential: The Island Homestead apartments, the cottages on Madison, the Ericksen cottages, the Meridian, the Mews, etc.

I disagree with the Bainbridge Review editorial that these people want better car access to the High School Road businesses. These new residents want fewer cars motoring through their neighborhood. They are close enough to walk to High School Road or Winslow Way businesses. They don’t want Ericksen to become raceway, but prefer a park at Ericksen/Hildebrand.

Every day for exercise I take a one-hour walk around Winslow. My route usually takes me to the pocket park at Ericksen/Hildebrand. It’s always a pleasure to leave the sidewalks with cars zooming by just a few feet away to enjoy the greenery and holding pond in the “plug” park.

GARY PETTERSEN

Parfitt Way

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