What do you want at Winslow? That’s a really broad question, and it brought many broad answers at the recent Winslow Online Vision Workshop.
Jennifer Sutton, city planner, said at the conclusion that all of the feedback that’s happened at various events over many months will be considered as a draft Winslow Subarea Plan is made in the fall. Residents will have another opportunity then to provide additional feedback.
She said the city is about midway through the process, and information from this plan will be used starting in September as work begins on the overall Comprehensive Plan for all of Bainbridge Island. “This is like the Comp Plan for Winslow,” she said, adding it will affect choices made for the rest of BI.
BI planning director Patty Charnas opened the meeting by saying the Subarea Plan will determine Winslow’s future when it comes to jobs, housing, amenities, services and population growth. She said they need to find a balance for all.
Adam Amrhein of LMN Architects led the discussion. He said one of the first things to be decided is if the Winslow boundaries set in 2006 should be expanded to better align with the water and/or sewer service areas.
Calling Winslow the “cultural and mobility hub” for all of BI, he said his consultant firm has heard from over 1,500 people since starting community outreach. He said they reached out to groups of people who have been underserved in previous discussions to get their viewpoints.
He said there has been a lot of interest in ecological and social aspects of the plan. But he said the building part of it must be considered, too, as Bainbridge is expected to add 1,927 new jobs by 2045. He said many people want to “preserve what’s here,” including, “that community feel.”
But on the other hand, there is a strong desire to add affordable housing. There are climate, transportation, equity, open space, amenities, education and other goals, too. “Help us form a vision for the next twenty years,” he said.
He added that in the ideas for the Subarea Plan, they are looking through a climate lens on how to reduce carbon; a diversity, equity and inclusion lens to enhance belonging for everyone; and a community character lens to complement the uniqueness of BI.
Amrhein then led the participants in a few activities to encourage them to share their views on seven topics by typing them in chat.
1. Climate: He said previous themes included lowering the carbon footprint; improving infrastructure; and renewable energy. Comments new that night included: Preserving trees; making development transit-oriented; and growing Winslow will increase greenhouse gas emissions no matter what.
2. Mobility: Previous comments focused on neighborhood centers; partnering with others; Kitsap Transit foot ferry to Bremerton; and a pedestrian bridge over Highway 305. New comments included: Winslow already has good mobility; electric bike riders should be licensed; new development should be focused one-half mile from transit so people won’t have to drive; expand KT to weekends; and charge for parking in Winslow.
3. Amenities: Commercial development; support local business; promote culture and events; and affordable recreation were emphasized in previous discussions. New: City needs to subsidize a laundromat; more spaces for youth; historical walks downtown; and bring in fiber optic.
4. Open space: Previously: trails; a gateway at ferry terminal; invest in playgrounds; and preserve ecological resources were mentioned. New: Need an arborist; lack open space in Winslow; parks lower GHG emissions; plan for sea level rise; more native plants; and bring a maritime museum to waterfront park.
5. Housing: Amrhein said this is the topic most often mentioned. Previous talks centered on affordability; options near transit and services; and lack of diverse housing. New comments that evening included: design guides are good if not overbearing; dense is better as is taller as long as the rest of BI is downsized; and the city should purchase deed restrictions on existing housing.
6. Zoning and planning: Previous highlights were: limit parking requirements; and construction costs are too high, restricting development. New: Don’t lose character of BI; affordable housing near ferry would encourage Seattle folks to move here instead of the desired goal of people working here living here; use historical structures rather than destroying them; and provide discounts for workers who live and work here.
7. Community feel: “So many want to live here,” Amrhein said. “People want to protect what makes Winslow special.” Previous comments: Preserve and enhance economic diversity and vitality; BI needs to be a welcoming, diverse community; tourists limit access to services in summer; and out-of-character development can have a negative impact on Winslow. New comments: Allow housing over retail stores; Moonlight Market and similar events can help the community come together in a common space to make feel people welcome.
Participants were asked to vote for their top three choices on each topic. Many of the top answers focused more on small changes rather than bigger-picture ones.
1. Mobility: Enhanced transit options were No. 1 followed by improved walkability and complete streets.
2. Open space: Green infrastructure led the way with ecological corridors second and waterfront access third.
3. Residential development: Garden apartments ranked first with townhomes and cottage housing tying for the next spot.
4. Commercial and amenities: Community service was No. 1 with community market a close second and ground floor commercial a close third.
Finally, Amrhein had participants talk about the vision statement so far for the Subarea Plan. New comments that night included: Prioritize business services for islanders; encourage businesses that pay higher wages for a less-transient workforce; prioritize health and child care; focus business in Winslow; and support health care and aging in place. A rare comment actually supported tourism.