By Matthew Taylor

Compromise and calls for improved communication dominated last week’s Winthrop Town Council meeting, as council members decided against installing flashing crosswalk signs across White Avenue.

The crossing is part of the Susie Stevens Trail. Earlier, the council had at first approved flashing lights for safety reasons, but agreed to reconsider after hearing objections from residents.

At last week’s meeting, downtown business and property owner Brian Sweet said he and others in the Winthrop business community opposed the flashing signs. “We definitely support the trail through downtown,” said Sweet, but “you will lose that support if you add flashing lights.”

Citing the economic benefits brought to the town as a result of its Western aesthetic, he added, “No trail is worth changing the overall feel of Winthrop.”

As a compromise, the town council decided to install an illuminated crosswalk that would satisfy both the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Westernization Design Review Board. Town council member Ben Nelson urged the council to take a middle course, stating, “There is a way between.”

Reflecting on the decision at the end of the meeting, Nelson said, “My easy decision was flashing lights, their [Westernization supporters] easy decision was to say no. We had to come to the middle.”

Sweet also expressed frustration about the lack of communication from the town related to the planned construction of the trail itself along the riverbank in Winthrop. The trail would have to pass through multiple private waterfront properties, yet property owners have recently felt left out of the process.

“We’re in, but we haven’t been asked,” said Sweet.

Noting that the town council cannot directly negotiate with private property owners, councilmember Joseph O’Driscoll acknowledged their irritation with the process. “It has been very vocal. Businesses and landowners are frustrated,” he said.

Council member Bob DeHart proposed a monthly meeting to keep businesses and landowners updated on the process. “We need to get them involved in step one,” said DeHart.

The council also deliberated on the issue of the pedestrian ramps at the four-way stop in downtown Winthrop.

Recently, a number of pedestrians have reported tripping on the new ramps, most notably in front of the Tenderfoot and Three Fingered Jack’s. Contractors had raised concerns over the previous plan to install hitching posts, as it would be difficult to safely secure them to the sidewalk.

The council considered a few other options, including bike racks and flower pots, yet the members as a whole remained inclined to decide to install the hitching posts with modifications to make them more stable. After briefly discussing these options, the council decided to make the decision at a later meeting.