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City takes larger role in 305 impacts

POULSBO — With the state planning to use 80 feet of its 150-foot right of way along State Route 305 during the widening project, the question now being posed is what will happen to the remaining 70 feet.

The answer might come in the form of a parking/landscaping plan that will be developed by the city to specifically address parking issues between Lincoln Road and Harrison Street.

In the sample motion granting Washington State Department of Transportation approval to negotiate leases with affected property owners, Councilwoman Connie Lord emphasized that there would be cooperation for “public parking and landscaping in the undeveloped right of way” and that “the city shall review lease agreements prior to approval to make sure they fit in the city’s plans.”

That motion is being reviewed by City Attorney Jim Haney and is expected to be voted on by the council at its March 1 meeting.

“I think business owners really want a compromise that makes sense,” said Frank Leach, who owns the RE-Max building just south of Hostmark Street. “We’re petrified at jumping in and signing a lease with the state.”

Parking is a serious matter and some business owners are at risk of losing 50 percent of their capacity, Leach told the council.

“We’re willing to look at anything reasonable and we can lease parking spaces,” Leach said.

Phil Berry, who manages Plaza 305, said when the structure was built in 1978, the property owners expected to be able to use the parking lot for the life of the building, even though it extended into the state’s right of way.

“We have public streets that provide parking for businesses and I think it’s a very positive way of looking at it,” Berry said.

By and large, business owners support SR 305 widening but they want to make sure their parking issues are addressed, Berry said.

If the city were to change private parking spaces into public parking, then no leases would be required, said WSDOT real estate manager Hal Wolfe.

“It wouldn’t be parallel parking but we have city parking in rights of way all over,” Wolfe said.

The city would then be responsible for the maintenance and other issues associated with that parking, he added.

With some of the parking fears addressed, Lord made a strong push for incorporating landscaping into the project.

“We don’t want to create a Highway 99 look that is all mishmash,” Lord said. “We want to create a boulevard effect.”

At least 40 trees will be removed during the widening and the city needs to be prepared to replace them, she said.

“We’re trying to move it forward, not backwards in visual effect,” Lord said.

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