Is the Winthrop in Motion project at a standstill?
That question was raised at last week’s Winthrop Town Council meeting by council member William Kilby, as part of an informal discussion about tourism-related challenges in the downtown core.
Kilby asked if the town had made any progress in implementing ideas proposed as part of the Winthrop in Motion project, a “multimodal” planning effort, supported by a state grant, to come up with ways to make it easier for pedestrians, motorists, bicyclists and mobility-impaired people to negotiate downtown Winthrop’s streets and sidewalks. It also includes planning for a more visually appealing “streetscape” and for compliance with Americans With Disabilities Act requirements.
The proposal was aired and discussed publicly in 2018, but little has happened since then. Beyond the initial grant money, there have been few resources available to implement any of the recommendations.
Mayor Sally Ranzau acknowledged that follow-up has been slow and “we missed the window this year” for downtown changes this summer.
“We’re on the constant lookout for means to fund the improvements identified in the plan, but until funded we can’t really move forward to implement it,” Town Planner Rocklynn Culp said in an email this week.
The proposals by Alta Planning + Design, the Seattle-based firm hired by the town to develop ideas, were gleaned from a “walking audit” of downtown by volunteer participants, and feedback from a subsequent public workshop. Major challenges identified were the inconsistent and inadequate boardwalk widths, obstacles such as boardwalk posts, varying pedestrian surfaces (board, gravel, pavement, dirt), driveway interruptions, lack of safe crossing areas, and confusing or non-existent directions for getting to various destination points. Details about the project can still be seen online at http://winthrop.altaprojects.net.
The project’s goals are to provide for safe travel for all ages and abilities, whether walking, biking, using transit or in motorized vehicles; to improve “connectivity” between key destinations in town; to improve access to all locations; to make downtown a good experience for residents and visitors, with more “social spaces” for things like outdoor dining; and to support the town’s economic base.
The proposal includes ideas for bike lanes, pedestrian trails, sidewalks, boardwalks, crosswalks, intersections, street rights-of-way, transit stops and shelters, vehicle and bike parking, and other adjustments to facilitate better movement.