Editor’s note: Because of its length, the letter is only appearing online.
To the editor:
My first visit to Bainbridge Island was over 25 years ago. At that time, I was attracted to the island because of its quaint community of Winslow. I embraced the small town with its local businesses supported by its citizens, and I appreciated the long, rich history of local logging, ship building, Navy, farming and the multi-ethnicity that have lived on the island for over 200 years.
This connection to the past is what makes today’s Winslow such a wonderful destination. For visitors to experience firsthand a small community with historic buildings, active shops and walkability is unique today and needs to be treasured and protected. The current housing development that has been thrust upon the Winslow core is misguided and shameful.
Unless the trend of higher-density housing here in the Winslow core is stopped, everything that makes Winslow attractive to visitors and residents will be lost forever. All that will remain of the historic Winslow core will be congestion.
Winslow was never meant to carry the burden of increasing population and higher-density housing. While these social issues are of utmost importance, they are also issues that need to be shared with the entire BI community.
The NIMBY – “not in my back yard” – attitude toward affordable housing is hypocritical, especially when it comes at the cost of sacrificing the historical roots of a small community. All one needs to do is take a short walk (or) drive through the town core to see the devastation of overbuilding and the overwhelming size of these high-density unattractive buildings that have gone up recently.
Ask yourself this… “in 20 years what will remain of the original Winslow”?
The solution to this pending Armageddon is stop pushing this unsustainable growth on the town core. This needs to be a shared responsibility between all communities on the island. Of course, there is the old argument, “We need to protect the rural feel of Bainbridge by concentrating the higher-density growth in the Winslow core.”
That argument is going to backfire on you. Even if you live outside of the Winslow core it is readily apparent that Winslow is choking with too many vehicles, cars speeding down residential streets, crowded grocery stores, etc. The only real solution is urban planning, which is an art and should not be directed by untrained elected officials.
Community and development need to be a “balanced” plan so as not to lose the identity of what makes a community attractive in the first place. Bainbridge already has small neighborhood centers such as Island Center, Rolling Bay and Lynwood – examples of where infrastructure should be allowed to grow to support more population. Those community centers should be allowed to develop (in a tasteful manner) higher-density housing and become thriving neighborhood centers with mom-and-pop stores and restaurants to service their needs.
The other argument that continues is, “Concentrating the density housing in Winslow is because of the readily available public transit. Well, there is public transit (buses) that travel all over BI and if you live outside of Winslow, you already know that.
Let’s protect Winslow before it is to late.