Oak Harbor honored for Pioneer Way makeover
By JUSTIN BURNETT
Whidbey News Times Staff reporter
December 23, 2011 · Updated 1:17 PM
The state chapter of a national planning organization is honoring SE Pioneer Way in Oak Harbor as being one of the best transportation projects in Washington.
Richard Hart with the Washington Chapter of the American Planning Association presented city staff, namely Development Services Director Steve Powers, with an award at a city council meeting earlier this month.
The association has been honoring outstanding city and county projects for the past 25 years and the redesign of Oak Harbor’s SE Pioneer Way won in the transportation category. Hart said the panel of judges thought it also could have won for sustainability due to its merits as a Green Roads project.
“They found this to be a unique project and one of the first such efforts by a small city in the state of Washington,” he said.
According to the association’s website, judges said it was a “well-defined use of the concept of sustainability in transportation improvements,” and was “an outstanding effort in the use of planning resources in a small community.”
Hart also told the city council that this was the third year in a row that he’s come to Oak Harbor to present the city with such an award. Hart said he did some checking and learned it was the first time any city has been honored three times consecutively.
“You are to be congratulated,” he said. “You’ve really set the bar for every other community, big and small, city and county, across the state.”
The Oak Harbor sub-division code update won in the implementation category in 2010 and the Windjammer Waterfront/Downtown Redevelopment Program won in 2009, also in the implementation category.
Although Powers accepted the award, he deferred honors to a host of city staff. Public Works employees, engineers, planners, the city council and the public participated, he said.
“Truly, this is an award for the entire city staff and not just planning,” Powers said.
SE Pioneer Way has been a challenging project, both in terms of public controversy over the one-way street design and concerning the discovery of Native American remains, which has delayed it completion.
While city staff has at times come under fire for some of the problems that arose, Mayor Jim Slowik said at the meeting that the award is a demonstration of the city’s high-caliber employees.
“It proves we have excellent people working at the City of Oak Harbor, but especially people working in our planning department,” Slowik said. “Very good job, Steve.”
Contact Whidbey News Times Staff reporter Justin Burnett at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-675-6611 ext. 5054.