Owners of most of the private parking next to the Winslow ferry terminal want to expand their operation on the southwest side of Highway 305.
And to prompt the required zoning change, they are offering “environmental benefits” – removing the land from the development rolls and possibly turning the ravine into a park, with access trails stretching from the waterfront to John Nelson Park by the winery.
“There can be new pedestrian connections, and the ravine could be put in public hands if the city accepted surface parking,” said architect Bill Isley, who made the proposal on behalf of property owners Winslow Marine Associates.
The tract in question is a 4.3-acre tract bounded by the vacant Unocal property at Winslow Way/305, and the pedestrian path that links Waterfront Park to the ferry area on the south. To the west is the ravine, while a corner of the parcel sits across Harborview Drive near the ferry holding area.
Winslow Marine Associates, formerly the Griffiths Trust, are the legal remnants of the Hall Brothers Shipyard properties. The concern also owns the large parking lot east of the highway managed by Diamond, and owns portions of the ravine west of Highway 305.
The land is zoned for high-density residential development, and could accommodate some 80 condominium units, Isley said. But instead, his clients want to develop 200 spaces for ferry commuters.
The westernmost 200 feet of the property is unbuildable, Isley said, because it is a setback from the tidal portion of the ravine.
If the city goes for the parking plan, Isley said, WMA would deed that setback area to the city, build a trail connecting Winslow Way to Waterfront Park, and consider a “possible contribution” of ravine property east of the highway.
The plan requires cooperation with other property owners, who Isley says he has not approached.
Access to the planned parking lot would come from Winslow Way across the Unocal property, he said, suggesting that the city might buy that property as open space and permit an access road over the rear corner.
Mayor Dwight Sutton’s reaction was guarded.
“I’m interested in giving it some consideration, with the caveat that we must factor in the success of Kitsap Transit,” Sutton said. “We could undo a fair amount of what they’ve done with respect to mass transit.”
Kitsap Transit has been trying to expand its bus routes to serve the ferry terminal, and sets its fares so that rides cost no more than half of what ferry terminal parking costs, according to Executive Director Dick Hayes.
Sheila Crofut of Friends of the Ravine has received Isley’s proposal, but said Monday it is too early to comment.
“There are so many different interests involved that, after the first of the year, it would be helpful if we all sat around a table and talked about this,” she said.
Fearing a proliferation of parking lots around the ferry terminal, the Bainbridge Island City Council has restricted long-term commuter
parking in the terminal district east of the highway, allowing only the 1,121 spaces that existed when the Winslow Master Plan was adopted in 1998.
Commuter parking – that is, parking for a full workday – is not a permitted use in any zone outside the ferry terminal district.
The “Gateway” district, in which the WMA property is located, is zoned for multi-family residential and commercial uses said not to endanger the Winslow ravine.
The Winslow Master Plan envisions a transformation of the ferry terminal district “from surface parking lots for commuters to residential with small amounts of service retail and office development.”
But Isley said WMA does not consider redevelopment of the large Diamond-managed parking lot “feasible at this time,” and wants instead to develop surface parking across the highway.
Sutton said he thinks the absolute limit on commuter parking spaces has to be reconsidered in light of increasing ferry usage from growing populations on the island and in Kitsap County.
“The parking problem is not going to be solved by the fantasy that everyone is going to get on mass transit,” he said.
“There is continuing pressure for parking, and we may need to revisit the concept that the maximum number of spaces now should be the same as it was when we were smaller.”