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Poulsbo mulls details of comprehensive plan

POULSBO — Rosario’s Salon nail technician Sue Keefe knows just what she wants when it comes to downtown Poulsbo.

“Parking, parking, parking,” she said. “That’s the biggest thing ever.”

And Keefe isn’t alone.

Kerri Nyman, while treating her kids to a morning at Lions Park, said if there was one thing she could change about the Viking City’s core, parking would be it.

Not an uncommon complaint, the issue of parking is just one of many facets of Poulsbo the city council is now bringing to the forefront of conversation. The council met for a special workshop last Wednesday night to discuss a few of the issues relating to both the city’s downtown and Old Town areas. Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade said each folds into the city’s comprehensive plan, which is slated for completion at the end of the year.

The summer season has put much talk of the comprehensive plan on hiatus until September. But the council moved forward on its specifically downtown and Old Town goal process with a big picture approach — or, as planning director Barry Berezowsky described it, a 30,000-foot view.

He presented findings from the city’s initial start of the conversation in 2007, when citizens were surveyed and listed Poulsbo’s small-scale atmosphere, sense of community, natural surroundings and safety as priorities. Downtown parking, the health of Liberty Bay and State Route 305 traffic flow were other items of concern.

Though Old Town is compromised mainly of the city’s historic residential areas, council member Ed Stern was quick to make a clarification: Planning for the area is not on the same plane as historic district zoning. He called the area’s visioning a “gentle, overlay district that recognizes a character that we wish to encourage, if not preserve.”

Regulations are not aimed to be as specific or strict as historic district zoning, he said. They could include “good neighbor” policies relating to architectural characteristics like roof lines and building heights.

Rob Bauer, owner of Higher Groundz Espresso at the corner of Front Street and Jensen Way, thinks Poulsbo’s old town feel is what keeps the tourists coming, but he forecasted inevitable change for the city’s downtown.

“It’s going to get commercialized, that’s what happens when more and more people move in and businesses start buying up buildings,” he said. “I really have the feeling it’s going to change.”

Bauer mentioned the Poulsbo Place development and possible additions to it along Jensen that will be a part of the city’s shifting countenance. Though he expects commercialization, he said he thinks the city council will take a steady hold on growth reigns.

“I think they’ve already done a lot to stop that (commercialization) from happening,” he said.

And when it comes to Poulsbo’s biggest draw, Bauer believes that remains in the town’s beloved roots.

“I think a lot of people do come here because they like the ‘old town’ feel,” he said.

Conversation Wednesday night also touched on possible parking additions to downtown, and the subsequent potential of Anderson Parkway.

For more on Poulsbo’s comprehensive planning process, including the Old Town study, visit www.cityofpoulsbo.com.

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