Bainbridge needs to close the gap between “we” and “me.”
It’s a realization that surfaced after a recent conversation with a longtime islander who wondered why city officials seem to think there’s a parking problem downtown.
“Why is a parking garage needed?” came the question, which she then followed up with her own answer. “I never have a problem parking when I’m downtown.”
That sentiment — parking isn’t a problem for me, personally — is usually followed with the qualifiers:
Because I don’t shop downtown anyway;
Because I don’t go downtown during the weekends;
Because I stay away from downtown during the afternoon in the summertime because of the tourists;
Because I don’t drive downtown, I’m a walker; and so on.
Indeed, the view that parking isn’t that bad in Winslow was a common sentiment in a recent online survey conducted by the city. Just 35 percent thought parking was inconvenient and difficult.
Downtown merchants, and those of us who work there, or whose daily routines find us driving downtown, have quite a different view, of course.
The attitude of “it’s not my problem” has unfortunately infected any consideration of a downtown parking garage for public parking. It’s left some elected officials saying that any parking garage should be largely funded by downtown property owners — instead of the more sensible view that providing public parking in the island’s commercial core is a municipal responsibility.
All of Bainbridge benefits from a prosperous downtown, one that provides ample space for residents and visitors alike. And yes, that means acknowledging that not all of us have the ability to walk downtown, or structure our schedules in a way that avoids Winslow during its busy times.
Providing sufficient parking is a “we” issue, not a cars-are-bad, let’s-discourage-drivers “me” issue.
Thankfully, Bainbridge doesn’t have a we-versus-me attitude when it comes to public schools, police and fire service, and a host of other issues that affect our quality of life. Islanders support our great public schools even if they don’t have children in school, and our police and firefighters even if we’ve never had to call 911 for help. We all see the benefit of those essential pieces of community life.
If only those attitudes extended into Winslow.