Council made right choice with sidewalk ordinance | Editorial

Council made right choice with sidewalk ordinance | Editorial

Commercial and residential growth is not showing any sign of slowing down for our small island communities.

We have finite space here, so smart, forward-thinking planning is necessary to ensure safety and decrease environmental impact – among other things. One of the functions of the county and the Eastsound Planning Review Committee is to study, recommend and approve code that meets the needs of a variety of constituents.

In accordance with Ordinance 21-2015, the county is tasked with developing streetscape requirements for all roads within the village commercial district, which was extended to include Madrona Point in December 2015 during the last Eastsound Subarea Plan update, which was a collaborative effort between the Eastsound Planning Review Committee, the county and the public.

According to the subarea plan, the purpose of street improvements it to “make the village pleasant and convenient for pedestrians and also provide needed on-street parking … curbs to separate pedestrian and vehicle traffic, walkways, street trees, benches, etc.”

We agree with the county council’s approval of an ordinance that would allow sidewalks to be installed on the east side of Haven Road, which is home to the Odd Fellows Hall, private houses, vacation rentals, a public dock and Madrona Point (which is closed to the public). It’s a well-traveled spot where pedestrians must walk on the road and where parking is cramped. Developers are currently building an additional 14 housing units on the road.

Concerned citizens have cited a reduction in parking if a sidewalk compliant with ADA requirements was built. County planners say the sidewalk would not drastically impact parking, which, incidentally, is a significant issue for all of Eastsound.

We think passing this ordinance is a reasonable solution; it will provide a place for pedestrians to walk, still allow parking on at least one side of the road and gives builders clear guidelines on streetscape development. The proposed sidewalk would fluctuate in size along the bedrock, shrinking down to as narrow as 3 feet in some places. We recommend putting in a parking lot at the very end of Haven Road, in the county-owned open piece of land across from the dock.

The reality is that our community is growing, and it is the responsibility of the county to plan and account for those changes.

Now it’s time for the county to install streetlights in Eastsound.