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A European idea for Little Norway | Guest Opinion
By STEVE and BARBARA ROBERTS
The City of Poulsbo is a great destination. However, Poulsbo has a couple of problems that need to be recognized and solved.
Problem No. 1: Parking downtown is, has been, and continues to be an issue.
Problem No. 2: Fewer and fewer customers and visitors go to the Viking Avenue side of town since many larger businesses have left. Many ideas have been tossed around about stimulating Poulsbo’s Viking Avenue business district like the recent Christmas tree idea. It is time for people in this town to think outside the box and help both parts of town in the process.
Viking Avenue has plenty of space for parking.
So, we would love for the City Council and the members of this community to consider the following idea.
Part 1: Turn part of the current parking area downtown (waterfront parking, what a waste of scenic space) into a plaza-style area with a fountain or statue, benches, a gathering place for folks to walk, sit, shop and just enjoy our waterfront. Similar plazas exist in other places like in Santa Fe, N.M., or European villages like in Italy. Tourists make those types of villages and towns a destination.
Part 2: Add another element to this picture. Imagine a gondola, like the ski lifts used on mountains to move people around. This gondola could be built at one end of the plaza, rising up and over the bay, which would give a beautiful view of Poulsbo, Liberty Bay, the salmon stream heading into Fish Park, and Mount Rainier. It would head north over the bay to a destination on the other side near or on Viking Avenue, within walking distance to Fish Park, the theaters, restaurants, and the other Viking Avenue businesses.
You may ask, “Why not create a boat taxi service for this?” The answer is: The bay is too shallow. Dredging would be necessary, which would probably affect the salmon stream at the end of the bay.
Currently, Viking Avenue is one giant parking lot. So, visitors could park near the gondola on Viking Avenue in one of those large empty lots. Turn another empty lot into a go-cart track or miniature golf, making it an attraction for families and teens. People who live on Viking Avenue could ride the gondola to downtown to shop, eat and enjoy the plaza. People who live near downtown or visiting boaters could ride the gondola to Viking Avenue and see a movie, go out to eat, or watch the salmon run at the end of the bay during the season.
With the right sales pitch to the many hotel chains out there, maybe this gondola would attract a new hotel which would then attract more businesses to both Viking Avenue and our downtown area. Like a domino affect.
We do not know the cost of what a gondola may run, but we feel it would be worth investigating to compare the costs to the multi-story car garage idea floating around out there. The city could charge a small reasonable fee ($1 round-trip for City of Poulsbo resident, $2 for outsiders, or a discounted monthly pass) to help offset the cost. Some gondolas use solar panels to reduce running costs.
Let’s start exploring new options.