Money woes stagger Winslow Way project

Yesterday was too nice of a day to blog, but not nice enough to not write up the latest chapter in the Streetscape saga.

Read all about it below.

BI Council Wants More Penny-Pinching on Winslow Way Project
By Tristan Baurick

Just as it seemed to be picking up speed, the Winslow Way road and utility project hit a big enough bump Wednesday to send it back to the shop.

The City Council voted not to vote on a contract proposal that would have green-lighted the $11.3 million road, sewer and water project. Raising concerns about public outreach and consulting costs, council members rerouted the contract to the council’s Public Works Committee for additional deliberation and possible modifications.

“This looks like a misuse of public money,” said Council Chairman Bill Knobloch, referring to almost $60,000 worth of what he termed “frivolous expenses” included in the initial planning and outreach contract with Heery International.

Spending $1,400 on “Friday coffees” with Winslow business leaders, $7,200 on presentation materials and $9,200 for interviews with property owners were a few items that drew the ire of Knobloch and other council members.

“Twelve thousand dollars for a Fourth of July booth? What the hell!” Knobloch said, noting that he registered a booth at the island’s upcoming Independence Day festivities for $60.

But Knobloch isn’t seeing the full picture, said project manager Chris Wierzbicki.

The $12,300 line item Knobloch referred to doesn’t just rent a booth. It also pays consultants to staff it, and buys numerous handouts, presentations and displays for other project-related events.

Wierzbicki also stressed that residents and business owners are hungry for more information about the project.

“I think it’s crucial that we inform people about what’s going on and how this may disrupt the lives of businesses,” he said. “It’s what people have been asking for.”

Wierzbicki also stressed that outreach accounts for just 4 percent of the $1.5 million Heery International contract.

“For me, it’s a drop in the bucket,” he said.

But for a City Council that also voted on Wednesday to cut police training, sewer cleanings and public building roof repairs, every drop counts in an increasingly smaller bucket.

“We’re cutting the police budget (and) then we want to pay somebody $1,400 to host monthly coffees?” Knobloch said. “This is a utility project. Why are we adding frivolous expenses?”

Councilwoman Kim Brackett said the public and the council haven’t had time to review the contract. She also doubted that the administration was up to speed on the contract’s legal facets.

“I would never approve a contract on the fly unless it’s fully vetted, with the i’s dotted and t’s crossed,” she said.

When asked if he reviewed the contract, City Attorney Paul McMurray answered he hadn’t. His response added to Brackett’s unease.

“If we’re going to start building trust with the community, I think this contract needs to be vetted legally,” she said.

After a legal review, Knobloch wants to see the project thrown into the same heap of capital projects on the council’s budget chopping block awaiting judgment. With popular projects like new bicycle lanes, road repairs and a senior center expansion eyed as likely victims of future cuts, Knobloch says upgrades on and under Winslow Way shouldn’t enjoy the automatic exemption the administration appears to have granted it.

“It’s an act of desperation when you see us cutting things like $2,000 from the police training budget,” he said. “That’s cutting services to the people. So what business does the (Winslow Way) project have being a stand-alone project?”

2 thoughts on “Money woes stagger Winslow Way project

  1. During the Town Meeting held on Tuesday May 6th the Mayor fielded a question concerning the budget and having the 2007 books reconciled. She indicated the long awaited numbers would be ready mid May. You can listen to the tape of the meeting on the Bainbridge Island Community Network website for details.

    Did the administration reveal the nitty gritty about Bainbridge 2007 books and debt during this last city council meeting?

    This would be important to understanding the merits of the current Winslow project. Most importantly if it is even financially realistic.


    The Big Tax-and-Spend Gang of Four (Peters/Snow/Franz/Stoknes) are preparing to jamb the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET) down our throats. The tax will not be voted on by the public but rather a fiat from Council. Cost will be $20 per vehicle per year for forever.

    At the same time COBI Council has allocated $400,000 for the Bainbridge Island Arts and Humanities Council (BIHAC) to support “art and artists.” Look at it this way, the money that you already paid for in taxes for roads was given to BIAHC and you in turn paid $20 vehicle per year forever to support the fluff Council has spent you tax money on.

    In addition COBI has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars and more to come on private special-interest memorials on valuable public parks. At the same time we have ZERO money alloted for road safety. Enough is Enough on the failure to use tax money for core missions.

Comments are closed.