What’s your Ericksen-Hildebrand solution?

One of the hopeful things that has come out of the decades-old Ericksen-Hildebrand debate (see last story post) is that people have done more than complain and dig in their heels. They’ve offered a range of compromises and solutions, and several have e-mailed them to me after the story’s publication.

I didn’t have the space in the story to get into all the ideas, so I’d like to offer this blog as a venue for people to post ideas on how to solve the Ericksen-Hildebrand conundrum.

So, what do you think?

Leave the park green, the streets unconnected, and let the walkers and cyclists rule?

Strike a balance, perhaps with a winding, narrow connection that paves a portion of the park?

Or, as one commenter offered after the online version of the story: “Thank you Mr. Blue Truck for doing what I have wanted to do for some time. You are my hero! Bring in the dozer, cut the road and we’ll find a way to name the street after you!”

So, there you have another option: pave the park and name the newly connected thoroughfare “Mr. Blue Truck Street.”

16 thoughts on “What’s your Ericksen-Hildebrand solution?

  1. People need to be able to access the Village stores and businesses from the South but we don’t need another connection between High School Rd and Winslow Way. Hildebrand/Ericksen makes for a lousy connection anyway: it is only a stone’s throw from 305 and it takes time to turn left at either end. Access to and from the shopping area at the South end is the main issue.

    Right now there is access from Wallace to the Village shopping area – the City provided it to the entire area when the development was permitted. However, the two owners whose properties straddle the Wallace Rd access and Hildebrand are blocking this access from the other properties, merchants and shoppers.

    I understand that this may be in violation of access easements held by the other properties. If so, they are holding the City, and the taxpayers, to ransom.

    Should the City give in to coercion and fork out $1 million+ when it lacks the finances to replace failing utilities on Winslow Way: a no-brainer essential project? I don’t think so.

  2. During the last COBI Council race, candidate Curt Winston was asked what his solution to the Ericksen/Hilberbrand road issue was. He pondered the question for a nonosecond and then said: “bulldoze it open tomorrow.”

    Instead Council was star gaze and naval gaze for 5 more years and traffic backs up in all directions.

    Give me Curt Winston for council.

  3. The problem isn’t getting in to the commercial areas on High School Rd., the issue is getting out. I propose making a single lane, one-way southbound exit road at the end of Hildebrand that preserves most of the pocket park but relieves the present congestion.

    Getting into the Village Ctr or patronizing the Hildebrand merchants from the traffic circle is easy but backtracking out of there to get home if you live downtown or on the island’s south end or the west side/Manzanita area is rough due to heavy east & westbound traffic on High School Rd.

    Punch a skinny lane through for southbound motorists but keep most of the park. Its a solution that will satisfy most fair minded stakeholders and the fierce bottleneck by the Chevron station will ease.

  4. Connect the streets. Clean up the brush around the retention pond to the east and work out a deal with the owner of the empty lot next to the hotel (the hotel itself maybe?) to turn the area between the hotel and the vet into a proper park.

  5. I wonder where the person lives who wants to buldoze the park. I bet it is no where near Eriksen or Hildebrand. We live on Blue Heron and walk in the Eriksen park everyday. We enjoy the picnic tables and the wildlife there. Has there been any discussion of making Battle Point Park into a shopping center or Waterfront Park into condominiums? Let’s be serious. There are a lot of uses for tax payer money other than buldozing a park so some people could have a short cut to Winslow. If it bothers you so much to make a left turn into the shopping center coming from 305 then use Madison to High School and turn right twice into the shopping center. Better yet, walk or bike to the shopping center like we do. Oh, you live too far away to walk or bike – so why don’t we build new roads and shopping centers near your house?

  6. I like the idea of a southbound out only lane. That is what is called a compromise.

    I also have stated that it should open up to 305 there as well. However, another commenter suggested opening Wyatt to 305. I support that plan as well.

    As long as I am on my soap box, I also think that Winslow way should be turned into a pedestrian park only between Madison and Erickson. It would be a quaint tree lined ave with shops, restaurants, art booths and outdoor cafes. A single lane would be available for emergency vehicles and delivery trucks (during certain hours).

  7. Connecting the streets will make it worse. Have you ever tried to get out onto High Schol Road from the Standard Station? How about turning left? Have you tried getting into the Standard Station (and Bank of America, etc.) FROM High School Road? Many times the left turn onto 305 from High School is so crammed you can’t even get in. The whole place is a mess.

  8. The village shopping district and Hildebrand Lane are private property.

    Please explain why we taxpayers should spend $1,137,000 to design and build a new entance/exit for the shopping district through City-owned land, a neighborhood park?

    Only 2% of the park/open space is currently located downtown where 50% of the growth is allocated. Are you recommending going below 2%?

    The property owners with their paid lawyer/lobbyist, John Waldo, (former lawyer for several Hildebrand Lane property owners, now a paid Chamber of Commerce Liason to the Council), are playing all their cards possible to force City/taxpayers to foot the bill for what should be the property owners financial responsibiltiy – to create a safe entrance/exits and passage for their properties.

    Their hand, which I call a house of cards, include: fear (people on crutches and old ladies going to get hit), illegality (cars entering/exiting are “trespassing”), liablity (threat of lawsuits), degrade the park (only drunks hang out there and it is filled with dog poop), and the best for last – it’s the City’s responsiblity (make taxpayers pay for it).

    If it was about safety, why did they hang a sign that said “Do you want a Ericksen/Hildebrand Connection – contact Council”?

    If it was about safety, why when CFA recently resurfaced the parking lot didn’t they paint in angle parking, paint crosswalks, or install traffic tables? Why are they not doing that now?

    Paint and a bit of concrete are super cheap compared to the proposed cost to taxpayers for the connection ($1,137,000). And that cost would be only the begining of the opening of the never-ending-spending-Pandora’s box. If the City connects the public road, Eriksen, to the private driveway, Hildebrand, then it would have to take over (buy it), upgrade it to current road standards, and maintain it. What is that going to do to the cost? How about then the cost of solving greater traffic issues at Hildebrand/High School and Ericksen/Winslow Way. What another couple million?

    Also, shouldn’t we factor in the cost to replace the park space? The property north of Ericksen Park that someone suggested is not for sale. It is owned by Island Country Inn and they are going to build a small convention center there. The closest piece of open land at the corner of Ericksen/Knetchel is for sale for $2 million. Where’s the City going to come up with that?

    The community and Council need to tell the property owners it’s their right to redesign their private property and that we are keeping our park land that the City already owns – these are the most economical options for taxpayers.

  9. In answer to where the person who said “bulldoze the opening” lives. Actually it doesn’t matter where there council candidate lives. Curt Winston stated directly and forthrightly what his solution was based on extensive analysis and COBI hand wringing.

    The fact people in the neighborhood feel they can commandeer public property and close off through traffic because they want that. Tough. The roads and parks belong to everyone, all the citizens and taxpayers and not just the local Politburo. The greater good trumps local special-interest NIMBY. Welcome to democracy.


  10. On one hand there are those that put up signs “No COBI Taxes” “No COBI Spending” and on the other hand the same call for spending millions to pave a park for a new entrance/exit for the private property owners in the village shopping district.

    The neighbors have not closed off the private entrance/exit/driveway. If you would actually come here you’d see that the neighborhood has not “commandeer..and close off through traffic.” It is actually closed off because of a private property owner who put up a chain across the access driveway in order to force ill will against the neighbors. It is his intention to somehow get us to believe that this is an issue to be resoved by the Council/City.

    This is a private property owners issue that needs to be solved by private property owners money.

    Mr. Osen, I welcome you come outside and walk the park, look at the private properties (entrance/access road and Hildebrand Lane) and please economically explain to me how and why citizens should support a proposed spending of $1,137,000 of taxpayer money for such a connection that would pave City-owned land?

    Connecting a private access road, Hildrebrand Lane, to a public road, Ericksen, would trigger having to upgrade (read: spend more tax payer money), the private access driveway to the current COBI road standards. Then, the increased traffic at both ends (High School/Hildebrand) and (Ericksen/Madison) would have be resolved (read: spend more tax payer money). Then there is also the issue of replacing the park land that was paved over (read: spend more tax payer money).

    Why have you changed your position regarding your strong stance against wasteful spending of tax payer money – especially when it truly is a private property problem that should be solved with private money?

  11. Debbie L. — My stance on wasteful spending stands proud. I also believe transporation and safety are key core missions for COBI. Increasing congestion and travel times for all citizens trumps a comandeered park. You have plenty of beautiful waterfront parks within walking distance or a short bike ride.

    This is the same issue I have with Christene Gregoire’s failure to deal with transportation notwithstanding a giganic gas-tax increase. This is where Dino Rossi will solve the transportation money pit created by Gov. CG.

  12. So, let me get this straight James, you are willing to spend upwards of $9 million total over a 100 yard connection? $1,137,000 for the initial connection, $3 million and to buy and upgrade the private road that is Hildebrand, $1.5 million to do road improvements at Hildebrand/High School, $1.5 million to do road improvement (roundabout) at Ericksen/Hildebrand. Then we’d need to replace the lost park space downtown – the nearest land available is $2.

    Increasing travel time – what 10 secs difference between the current entrance/exit? You’d spend $9 million and destroy neighborhoods for 10 seconds of decreased travel time.

    And why are you in support for doing all this for a private property mall?

  13. Correction: $1.5 million to resolve newly created traffic issues at Ericksen/Winslow Way (not Ericken/Hildebrand). That would be a proposed roundabout.

    Again: Hildebrand and the shopping village is all private property. Ericksen is a public street. We should not be spending money for private property interests. The private property owners should be spending THEIR MONEY to make their shopping village safe and accessible.


  14. COBI can condemn land for public use.

    Open the road now. As to shopping center spending “their money,” have you seen the adulation and preferential treatment Mr. Nakata gets with T & C? Everyone but a few benefits by transportation flow and options.

  15. Let the private property owners decide what is best, it’s their property. If they want to keep the parking lot closed, so be it, nothing we can do about. If they decide they think Hildebrand and Erickson need to be connected, let them pay to punch the road through.

  16. I have to say I agree with Debbi L. on all points here. I’m late to the conversation and debate (and new to the island as well) but I don’t see the overall benefit of opening up this road.

    Who benefits if the road gets built? Property owners, businesses and people who are in a rush to get from the strip mall to Winslow Way. Legitimate groups of folks and voices, to be sure. But certainly that group of interests doesn’t outweight Winslow residents losing park space. Right? And when have any of us been in such a rush that we’d be willing to wipe out a Bainbridge Park in order to get from Safeway to Mora ice cream faster?

    My solution: just forget it, and if they business owners want to close off the parking lot for safety concerns, then that is their right.

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