Letters to the Editor

Winslow Way needs fixes | Bainbridge Letters to the Editor

City

Solutions needed for Winslow Way

The Grand Old Fourth of July celebration once again reminds us all that Winslow Way really is the geographic heart of our community. It’s both our Main Street and our community living room. It’s where we shop, where we meet, and sometimes, it’s where we come together to celebrate.

Sadly, Winslow Way has also become our principal point of contention.

We’ve known for well over a decade that the utility lines underneath the street are failing, and need to be replaced. We’ve also known that replacing those utilities means digging up the street. Where we’ve differed is about what the street will look like when we fill up the hole. We’ve gone through the city staff plan, the property owners’ plan, then the Winslow Tomorrow plan, now scaled back to a basic utility.

We hear the critics everywhere – at every City Council meeting, in Letters to the Editor and especially in the blogosphere. The message is simple. Stop. Just Say No.

As a representative of the business community, a Winslow business person and a participant in Winslow Tomorrow, I would note that we’ve put our various plans on the table for community input and feedback. To those who are still dissatisfied with the present proposals for Winslow Way, I submit it’s now fair to turn the tables.

What’s your plan? You’ve articulated objections – some well-founded, which have led to some significant changes. You’ve aired complaints, suspicions, and provided a long list of objections. What I haven’t heard is an alternative plan.

I know the city faces a difficult financial situation, and that we can afford only a basic utility fix. But isn’t that what we’re now proposing to do? Other than the minimal beautification for which the property owners are paying, what “fluff” is left in the plans?

Nobody likes the fact that the project is expensive – roughly $12 million for the basic project if done in 2010. Much of that cost would be borne by utility ratepayers, who are already facing major rate increases for the ongoing upgrades of the city’s wastewater treatment plant. As the critics point out, the charges necessary to pay for both projects will be genuinely painful. As a city utility customer, I’ll feel that pain.

But what are the alternatives? Washington state law says that utility work must be paid for only by utility ratepayers. On the flip side, ratepayers must not be charged for non-utility work. There are rumblings that no matter how the council allocates costs, there may be litigation.

Because there are no pain-free solutions, this is a terribly difficult problem.

Where do those who criticize the present plan see things differently? Do you think Winslow Way doesn’t need to be rebuilt? If so, what information do you have that our city engineering experts don’t have? Pointing out concerns and questions is important, and the critics haven’t been shy about that. But that doesn’t get us any closer to finding solutions. What’s your plan?

JOHN WALDO

Government relations coordinator

Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce

Critics needed more than ever

Councilman Peters’ indictment (“Rancor robs us all of decency,” July 5) is far more illustrative of internal ills that bedevil City of Bainbridge government than of outside cabals fomenting palace intrigues. Without one iota of evidence, Mr. Peters feebly asserts that a minority group – lacking in “human decency” – is causing COBI’s incredible fiscal, policy and political failures. It is no coincidence Mr. Peters fails to provide proof of “personal attacks” causing the revolving-door resignations of senior managers and staff personnel. What Mr. Peters does instead is set up an outrageous straw-man argument of how he and City of Bainbridge (with 155 employees, $57 million budget and legions of consultants) are hapless victims of public enemy No. 1 – sharp-tongued critics of waste, fraud and abuse.

The good voters of Bainbridge are left with a clear choice: are you going to believe Barry Peters’ victim story or are you going to believe your own eyes and ears? Having read thoughtful analysis on the local blogs, newspapers and watched BITV’s City Council coverage with public comment, I for one believe my eyes and ears and not Mr. Peters’ rhetorical chimera.

Transparent attempts by local editors and public elected officials to shame or intimidate critics is a dangerous course that is anti-democratic and divisive. Taxpayers and voters have ample reason to voice criticism and frustration. As you will recall, nowhere in the COBI financed Benchmark Study ($167,000) was public criticism of government cited as a cause of COBI/Council “severe dysfunction.”

As to Councilman Peters’ issue with free speech: the answer is more free speech, not censure.

JAMES M. OLSEN

Soundview Drive

Community

Thanks for the memories

To the Bainbridge Island Chamber of Commerce, thank you so much for your overwhelming honors – our chamber award, the articles, the beautiful luncheon and warm roasting, the showers of congratulations, and the enormously fun ride in the parade where we soaked up rows of sunny smiles and the community spirit of Bainbridge Island.

Now we’re back to business, more grateful than ever to be living and working here.

Ce-ANN PARKER

HOWARD BLOCK

Bay Hay and Feed

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