Poulsbo open house brings full house

POULSBO — Poulsbo City Council members spent the days leading up to Wednesday night’s open house wondering if anyone would show up. When 25 people appeared in the council chambers, council members got their answer.

They also heard more than a little about one issue that refuses to go away: downtown parking.

“Everybody’s complaining that there’s no place to park and downtown is a destination place,” said Bight of Poulsbo founder Bill Austin. “We’re ready to attack the problem.”

One possible solution to the matter is to put angle-in parking on the east side of Front Street and allowing parking on 1st and 3rd avenues, Austin said.

“As far as I’m concerned, it really doesn’t matter because you can at least double (the) parking in downtown by doing 1st and 3rd (avenues),” he said.

The council has discussed the idea of making 3rd Avenue a one-way street but is waiting on the results from a traffic study before proceeding, said Councilman Dale Rudolph.

“Once we get that we can run the model and see where it goes,” Rudolph said, noting that the parking issue has been discussed for several years with different groups including the Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association.

Groups affected by the parking problems in downtown have passed responsibility for finding a solution and nothing has happened, he said.

“We’ve kind of been hiding behind the ‘It’s my turn, it’s your turn’ game and the problem will be back next year,” Rudolph said.

While parking is a concern, if the council is unable do something about it, the issue might as well be dropped, Austin replied.

“If something won’t work, then I’d at least like to know why, so we can try to come up with another solution,” Austin said.

The problem with finding a solution to the parking issues in Poulsbo is rooted in the widths of its streets, said Public Works Director Jeff Lincoln.

“Many streets in the city are 24-feet wide and unless cars are four-feet wide, then you don’t have the 20-feet clearance, which is required for emergency vehicles,” Lincoln said as he explained why parallel parking on one-way streets is not an option.

“The city would be ill-advised to make such a decision and, unless streets are 28-feet wide, it won’t solve the problem,” Lincoln.

Despite the heated discussion about parking, council members and the public in attendance agreed the evening was a success.

“I think this is a marvelous framework to sit down and talk with city fathers,” said Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Jay Roof. “I hope this has been more than a complaint session and that people have come to talk about the future.”

Councilman Jim Henry echoed Roof’s sentiments and thanked the public for attending the event.

“The first of my fears (was) that I would come here and sit all by myself,” Henry said. “Now, that we’ve had one and had a good turnout, I think we should consider doing it again.”

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