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One way to go in downtown Oak Harbor
The verdict is in: The Oak Harbor City Council voted to transform Pioneer Way into a one-way, eastbound street as part of a downtown revitalization project.
Councilman Rick Almberg's motion for the one-way alternative passed with a 4-3 vote. Almberg and fellow councilmen Bob Severns, Jim Palmer and Eric Gerber vote for; council members Beth Munns, Jim Campbell and Danny Paggao voted against.
The broiling debate over the historic downtown's fate came to a close Tuesday night after three votes, two amendments and more than an hour of passionate discussion.
Eighteen people shared their thoughts and preferences during the public comment period, including longtime downtown businesswoman Gloria Carothers, owner of The Jewelry Gallery.
"I've been downtown for almost 18 and a half years," she said. "I am unequivocal for two-way."
Carothers explained that there's a triangular traffic flow on Midway Boulevard, Pioneer Way and Highway 20 that'll be disrupted if Pioneer becomes a one-way street.
"Basically, you're cutting off half the traffic if you go one way," she said, asking the council to consider who'll really bear the risk of their decision.
Coreen Lerch of Oak Harbor thinks a one-way street will make for a safer, more inviting downtown.
"I'm all for one way," she said.
The council members didn't take the decision lightly.
This decision will affect economic development in Oak Harbor, said Mayor Pro Tem Danny Paggao.
"If we lose those merchants, those stores, it'd be like losing NAS Whidbey," he said. "I'd be devastating."
Construction is slated to begin January 2011 and last for about 10 months.
More details on the City Council's Pioneer Way decision will appear in the Saturday, Dec. 5 edition of the Whidbey News-Times.