In response to the Re-Solve group's survey regarding parking for downtown Winslow businesses, I choose to use this format, in order to more fully express myself where indicated.
- Linda

Fox Paw
160 Winslow Way West - in the Winslow Green
Bainbridge Island

Type of Business: Retail

The Winslow Green is a condominium building; we own our buildings, we own and maintain our landscaped grounds, and we own and maintain our parking areas. The parking in the front of the building is limited to 2 hour parking and is for short term and customer use only. The parking area in the rear of the building is permitted, and is for use exclusively by residents and business employees.

All of my employees drive to work every day, and they park in the authorized "permit only" parking lot on our property.

I am not interested in paying additional money for monthly parking for either my employees or my customers at the proposed garage. I am currently paying a considerable sum of money each month to provide and maintain parking at my place of business, for both customer use and employees.

FURTHER COMMENTS: I perceive a real parking problem in Winslow, and my business continues to be impacted by the town's increasing lack of customer parking. When there is inadequate parking available in other parts of town, people park on my property to do business outside my building.

My observation is that there are several factors that continually contribute to the increasing severity of this problem: I will state the apparent problem, and offer both short term simple, and long term solutions:

a) PROBLEM; There are an inadequate number of public parking stalls provided by the City within the business core to adequately meet the demand.

SOLUTION: The City needs to become realistic about the amount of parking spaces they are willing to provide in order to maintain a healthy business core.

It's real simple. If people find a parking space, they will do business in Winslow. If they come to town just twice, and are unable to find parking, they will stop coming to Winslow, they will tell their neighbors there isn't any parking in Winslow, and they will drive to Poulsbo or Silverdale. They will also take others with them who are aware there's a parking problem downtown. This will also, by association, impact business transacted at the Village.

It's WAY more cost effective to keep a customer, than to spend years trying to get one back. In the amount of time it would take to recapture a customer coming to Winslow, there would be very little business left.

For starters, look at the available parking in Poulsbo. Their population is stated to be 6,000 plus. Their parking lot in town by their waterfront park is well in excess of 300 stalls in addition to other areas and additional on street parking. Bainbridge Island has a population of 22,000 plus. Our City has provided 200 plus street stalls. Other customer parking in town has been privately funded to provide customer parking by the businesses.

We're at a point where the City needs to become very clear about how important local business is to them, and if they want to keep us, or if they would rather we just go away.

b) PROBLEM: Apparently the City continues to sell permitted parking to for long term use, or to ferry commuters, on the West side of 305. Obviously, this impacts the already limited supply of available short term parking spaces within the Winslow core

SOLUTION: Under NO circumstances should there be ANY long term parking on the west side of the highway. Long term parking should only be provided on the east side of 305, in park and ride lots, or beyond the "Winslow Core", which seems to be two blocks either side of Winslow way to Wyatt, and Grow. If this could be accomplished, we may be able to score quite an adequate number of parking spaces that a garage isn't necessary for another couple years.

In addition, the City could provide signage from the intersection and throughout the downtown core, directing vehicles to available parking beyond the main street parking on Winslow Way. Many people are unaware there is parking behind businesses, on side streets, under buildings, by the park, on Bjune, etc. If there were signage, at least visitors to the area would have some direction to where they can leave their cars. It might take years for local residents to get beyond the unrealistic notion that they can only park in front of the door they want to enter.

Parking needs to continue to be free. The 2 hour limit is not unreasonable for Winslow Way, and some areas of posted 4 hour parking behind main street seems fine for longer use. Diligent parking enforcement is indicated to maintain compliance. There could be waiving of traffic fines upon presentation of receipts indicating valid use of the space, if a vehicle overstays the stated 2 hours.

During December, when demand for parking is the greatest, the City could offer additional free parking in specified areas, sometimes in low usage areas, or work with privately owned businesses that may have additional spaces that could be made available for that short time.

c) PROBLEM: There's a problem enlightening business owners and employees to not park in customer parking. The no-brainer is convincing business owners and their employees to not park in customer spaces. This is a matter of enlightenment. Hopefully businesses won't have to fail before this one is figured out. Employers need to enforce parking restrictions, or lose their business.

SOLUTION: They need to understand how serious the parking issue is, and be willing to embrace the necessary corrections. The entire town will suffer, if everyone doesn't participate in awareness and correction. We're at a critical point right now. Changes need to be made, solutions need to be implemented, or we're all history.

There are immediate solutions, and there are long term solutions. If we install signage where parking can be found, and get long term parking out of the downtown core, we'll be okay for the short term.

The long term fix is that the City needs to seriously address a parking structure, facility, or lot if they have any interest in maintaining a downtown business core. I would assume they would be interested in a vital business community, and a continuance of the income we generate to support their working capital.

The other issue that needs to be addressed is parking at the ferry terminal. Cars are not going to go away, the ferry terminal doesn't appear to be going away, and the need for parking at the ferry terminal isn't not only not going away, the demand is continually increasing. That's another can of worms, but it needs to be considered, because it impacts the entire parking problem, and the Winslow business community's ability to survive.

Thank you for addressing this situation.
Linda Allen, owner, Fox Paw

A follow up letter on: The other can of worms. The allotment and use of existing space.