Beat blast: 5 stories you’ve gotta know in Bremerton this week

Here’s your three minute news update for the week in Bremerton. In the video above, you’ll learn:

  1. What Bremerton road will soon get a $5 million makeover?
  2. What park is getting expanded?
  3. Who may be to blame for too much saltwater in the sewers?
  4. The City Council’s change to utility taxes
  5. What brewery opens in Bremerton Friday


This week’s blast was filmed on location at LoveCraft Brewery, 275 Fifth Street, and includes an interview with the owners.

Comments or suggestions? Send them to me at

COUNCIL SCORE CARD: Taxes, fees and some gavel banging


Taxes were defined, fees were raised and an argument between two City Council members drew the gavel from the president. The Bremerton City Council meeting Wednesday night went three-plus hours with lots of issues on the line. Here’s my synopsis:

Call it a tax: The Council voted to merge a fee and a tax it collects on its own utilities into a single tax. Of course, when it taxes its own utilities — those of the water, sewer and stormwater systems — it is effectively taxing the ratepayers of that system, as the cost is passed along.

The city’s fee known as PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) was created to charge the city-owned utilities because they are exempt from property taxes. Others have called it a “stealth tax.” In any event, now PILOT is dead, consolidated with the utility tax, thanks to the vote Wednesday.

What that means: your utility bill will now include a 15.5 percent tax on water and 20 percent tax on sewer and stormwater, respectively. Councilman Roy Runyon pointed out that it raises a little under $5 million for city coffers each year.

Both he and City Councilwoman Leslie Daugs asked if the utility tax could be placed, as a number, on residents’ utility bills. That question went unanswered. When Runyon pushed the issue, Council members Dino Davis and Greg Wheeler stopped him, saying the issue should be brought up before the city’s public works committee meeting as “housekeeping.” Davis and Runyon continued arguing until Wheeler, the Council’s president, was forced to go to the gavel to get them to stop.   

Result: 4-1 in favor (Runyon voted against)

General facilities fees (GFCs): The Council passed by one vote changes to the fees the city levies on builders to offset costs in developing additional water, sewer and stormwater infrastructure. Water fees for the smallest meter size will go to $5,880 from $2,511 by 2018; sewer fees will rise to $6,863 from $3,801; stormwater rates will go to $3,157 from $1,019. (See my Wednesday story for more background.)

Joe Keller, an engineer for the city (pictured at podium above) voiced opposition to the plan, saying it placed a larger, inequitable burden on builders of single-family homes. City officials disagreed, saying the fees were fair by charging developers by what their developments would use. Daugs was concerned it could affect rates of home ownership in the city.

Result: 3-2 in favor (Davis and Daugs voted against)

City fees: Some city fees are increasing under the 2016 budget. Red light tickets in 2016 will increase from $124 to $136. Parks fees are going up across the board. The fee for a grave site at Ivy Green Cemetery, for instance, will increase from $1,224 to $1,346. Wyn Birkenthal, the city’s parks director, said the increase was necessary to cover parks costs.

Result: 5-0 vote in favor.

Conference center debt extension: As revenues for the $1.1 million expansion of the Kitsap Conference Center have not materialized, the city asked the council to authorize extending out the debt on its $500,000 loan that helped pay for the project. The money was supposed to be paid back to the city’s $4.2  million vehicle fund in five years; now it will take until 2034.   

Result: 5-0 in favor.

Federal block grants: The Council is close to completing its pivot from using its yearly federal block grant money as an open process to one specifically targeted to downtown redevelopment. Because two Council members — Jerry McDonald and Eric Younger — were absent, Greg Wheeler said the Council will wait to vote on the five year plan at a special meeting next Monday. Wheeler added he had to recuse himself from the vote because he serves on the board of Kitsap Community Resources, which is a possible recipient of the funds.

The Council will also vote on the funding recommendations, which include $58,500 for Kitsap Community Resource’s BE$T program and its weatherization and home repair programs, as well as $235,000 to replace facades on two buildings and retrofit another on Fourth Street.

Larson on Fourth Street. MEEGAN M. REID / KITSAP SUN
Larson on Fourth Street. MEEGAN M. REID / KITSAP SUN

The Council also heard from Wes Larson and Mike Brown, leaders of Sound West Group, which is hoping to secure that $235,000 to do the Fourth Street work.

“We’re committed to downtown bremerton,” Larson told the Council. “That’s our heart and soul.”

Other items of note from the meeting:

The budget: The Council held the first of two hearings on the 2016 city budget. Mayor Patty Lent’s budget’s largely “status quo” with few changes. The city will also be raising property taxes in the city by one percent, as is the maximum allowed under state law. The budget will be voted on in December.

Washington Avenue: City Engineer Tom Knuckey announced some delays to the Washington Avenue project. The issue this time is that crews from Puget Sound Energy, which is putting much power on the street underground, got pulled away for Tuesday’s windstorm. They probably won’t be back on the project until after Thanksgiving. The project is still expected to wrap up by the end of the year, he told the Council.

Lions Park: Parks staff announced the city will receive $250,000 to design reconstructions of the boat ramp and dock on the northern edge of Lions Park off Lebo Boulevard. I’ll have a story on that later this week.


Manette Playfield: Tuesday’s public meeting to plan future developments at the park had about 40 people, parks staff said. (See photo.) A followup meeting has been scheduled for Dec. 15.

Crownhill sidewalks: In its consent agenda, the Council approved an $88,000 contract that will design the new sidewalks doing to Marine Drive and areas near Crownhill Elementary School. Also, the city approved another $139,000 contract to design safety improvements at seven intersections in Bremerton next year: 11th and Montgomery, 6th and Callow, Burwell and Callow, Burwell and Montgomery, Burwell and High, Burwell and Chester and Sheridan and Wheaton Way.

5 things you need to know in Bremerton this week

Got three minutes? I’ll get you up to speed on what’s going on in Bremerton, including:

1. When’s this windstorm going away?


2. Who’s mapping all of Kitsap’s waterfalls?

3. How’d a gull trapped on a utility get rescued?

4. What’s the church on Sixth Street up to now?

5. Learn about the passing of a Bremerton car legend.

All that and more at this week’s Bremerton Beat Blast.

Comments or suggestions? Send them to me at


Street closure part of church’s growing campus plans

Rendering of the potential street closure on Veneta Avenue.
Rendering of the potential street closure on Veneta Avenue.

It’s not stopping at the pipe organ. Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, located at Sixth Street and Veneta Avenue, has big plans for the neighborhood it has inhabited since the 1950s.

“We want it to be a campus, and have a campus feel,” said Father Derek Lappe, the church’s leader.

Veneta trees
Those iconic Sequoias.

The first step toward that campus is coming up. City staff has OK’d a plan to close down Veneta Avenue between Sixth and Fifth streets. The church would like to use a stub of the street as a pickup and drop-off for the students that go to school there (see map above). Of the rest, it wants to make it “one, big flat piazza,” Lappe said.

The church has longterm plans to create a chapel where their school’s gymnasium is now. Lappe said it plans to build a new gym on property the church owns further west. In total, the church owns almost three blocks along Sixth Street, Lappe pointed out.

A street closure could also be considered further south on Veneta. Earlier this year, I wrote a story about those two magnificent Sequoia trees that are also on Veneta. That portion of the road won’t survive forever under those trees and Lappe would also like to see stretch where the church is, between Fourth and Fifth streets, closed permanently as well. That would make a two-block long pedestrian-only corridor.

“We think that would be a natural fit,” Lappe said.

The church has notified surrounding blocks of the closure, Lappe said, but the Bremerton City Council wants a public process to accompany it before any closure occurs, including a public meeting.

UPDATE: The city will host a public meeting at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 30 at the gym of Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic School, 1516 Fifth Street. For more information, call (360) 473-5280.

City putting $2.3 million lid on massive reservoir

Reservoir 4.
Reservoir 4 from above.

It may be the most expensive lid you’ve ever heard of. Concerns over cracks in the plastic cover of an 11 million gallon water reservoir spurred city public works officials to recommend replacing it with an aluminum or steel one.

The cost: $2.3 million.

It’s worth noting that this is a very big lid. Reservoir 4, as it is known, spans 1.25 acres. Only the nearby Union River reservoir, a billion gallons above the Casad Dam, holds more water in the city.

The past two lids on reservoir 4, both plastic ones, have “failed,” according to Bremerton civil engineer Bill Davis. The first cover, installed in 1981, had to be replaced in 2002. The second cover has been degrading for some time, Davis said. The city made the decision to forgo another “soft” cover that could cost around $500,000 and instead get a “hard” cover that should last 50 years, albeit at a higher price.

It may be an expensive fix, but this is drinking water we’re talking about. Exposure to the elements could lead to bacteria growth inside the reservoir, he said. Because the new cover will likely be made of aluminum, it will require columns to support the structure.

The end result is a permanent fix and is good for the utility and its users, Davis said.

“Our water supply will be more secure and it will improve water quality,” he said.

The Bremerton City Council approved a contract to design the project at its Nov. 4 meeting. Construction is slated to begin in June and wrap up in February 2017. The reservoir will have to be fully drained for the work.

How will the city forgo an 11 million gallon reservoir in a city which consumes around six millions every day? They’re still working on that, Davis said, but they’ve done it before on a previous project. It will likely involve using other water sources the city has, including its many wells.

The current work will be funded by the city’s ratepayers. A low-interest loan — one percent if the project is completed within two years — provided by the state’s Department of Health will spread out the cost.

UPDATE: Will it be recycled? 

Pat Watson had asked me whether the old lid could be recycled. So I asked Davis if the city was considering it.

He said the city reached out to Waste Management and found that the polypropylene material could be recycled there.

The contractor awarded to do the project will have the choice as to whether to recycle it, but Davis said the city would “encourage” the idea in its contract. As the project is designed, Davis said they’ll find out what other agencies have been doing with old polypropylene lids.

A "hard" cover lid on a reservoir in Laguna, California.
A “hard” cover lid on a reservoir in Laguna, California.

Bremerton Beat Blast: 5 things to know happening in Bremerton this week

Stories featured this week:

1. This Bremerton theater is under contract with a local developer
2. Detectives investigate a murder in East Bremerton
3. The 2-year election battle shaping up
4. Is the ferry terminal’s door broken again?
5. Which Bremerton landmark has a birthday today?

Please let me know what you think! Suggestions welcomed at

Roxy today, Roxy yesterday. Photo by Meegan M. Reid.
Roxy today, Roxy yesterday. Photo by Meegan M. Reid.

Police investigating East Bremerton business break-ins

Some of the break-ins have occurred on East 11th Street in Manette.
Some of the break-ins have occurred on East 11th Street in Manette.

A number of break-ins to businesses have been reported in East Bremerton in recent weeks. Bremerton Police Sgt. Rich Cronk told me that the burglaries remain under investigation and police are hoping to find the culprits.

The recent burglaries are:

Sunny Teriyaki, 1221 Wheaton Way: A window was broken out Oct. 15 and money was taken from a tip jar. Two cash registers were damaged.

Andy and Cindy’s Diner, 3561 Wheaton Way: Suspects got inside sometime between Oct. 16-17 and took a laptop, cash and a power cord.

State Farm, 1100 Wheaton Way: A window was broken out Oct. 26. Nothing was reported stolen.

Two Sisters Fine Jewelry, 1100 Wheaton Way: A window was broken out and jewelry was taken sometime before 9 a.m. Oct. 26.

Bicycle Works, 2109 E. 11th Street: A door was forced open and a bike was stolen. The burglary was reported the morning of Oct. 27.

If you have any information as to who is responsible, police encourage you to call 911.

Who will live in Bremerton’s new apartments?

The 606.
The 606.

Jude Willcher was looking for a better deal on her rent. The Seattle resident, who currently lives on First Hill, looked at all points north, east and south.

A friend reminded her of the last option: west.

In late-August, she took the ferry to Bremerton, taking in downtown and noting the construction of The 606 apartments on Burwell Street.

She was sold.

“I said, hey, this is all I need in one spot,” she said. “And I can walk to the ferry.”

Willcher is among the first residents of the 71-unit complex, set to open in December. Garret Quaiver, the building’s manager, has already rented out about a third of the units, many around $1,000 a month. Other renters so far include workers at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and sailors.

For Willcher, her rent payment will drop by about half. And while she has a car, she’d prefer to take a boat to her job in downtown Seattle.

“In most places I would have an hour commute anyway,” she said. “This way I get some quality time.”

Next Tuesday, the Kitsap Sun will host its latest Story Walk in Bremerton: a tour of the 606 and SEEfilm Cinemas. We’ll begin at 5 p.m. at the theater, 655 Fourth Street. The tour will include a discussion with PJ Santos, the project’s developer.

The nearby Sweet and Smokey Diner and Toro Lounge will also be catering the event. Hope you can make it. RSVP here.

Here’s links to our previous Story Walks this year.

Behind the scenes at the Bremerton Symphony

Campus at a crossroads 

Is the Cove turning a corner? 

Storywalking history, the Roxy, and all things hoppy

Walking the new Westpark

The new Lower Wheaton Way

Washington Avenue, past and present

The meandering Madrona Forest

Redwood Rendezvous in West Bremerton

Fourth Street’s Economic Divide

Has the next Bremerton mayor’s race already begun?

Too much to do: Mayor Patty Lent says her work will not be done at the end of her current term.
Too much to do: Mayor Patty Lent says her work will not be done at the end of her current term.

This year’s election may have wrapped up Tuesday night. But one race two years from now is already starting to brew.

Greg Wheeler is "definitely contemplating" a run for mayor.
Greg Wheeler is “definitely contemplating” a run for mayor.

That would be the one for Bremerton mayor.

Yes, in a cycle that may even rival the length of a U.S. presidential election, at least two candidates are already public about their ambitions to run the city.

The first would be the incumbent: current Mayor Patty Lent.

Lent, 71, had felt a few years ago that the 2013 election would be her last. But as she hits the midpoint of her term, she’s realized there’s just too many projects left to pursue. Several downtown development projects, the passenger-only ferry to Seattle, establishment of a Bus Rapid Transit system and bringing business to Puget Sound Industrial Center-Bremerton are a few of her top goals.

“I have a to-do list that will take me another term of office to complete,” said Lent, who was also a Kitsap County commissioner earlier in the 2000s.

Enter Council President Greg Wheeler, who thinks it might be time for some new blood in the office following Lent’s two terms.

Wheeler, who Tuesday secured a new four year term in district four while running unopposed, said he’s “definitely contemplating a run.”

The 56-year-old Navy veteran recently retired from the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard’s engineering department. He, like Lent, is heavily involved in the community.

“I’d love the chance to be mayor,” he told me.

Neither will formally declare their campaigns for some time but knowing the other is likely to run will no doubt shape these next two years politically in Bremerton. Already, the two publicly disagreed over whether Bremerton should exit the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council, a group of local governments that band together for planning and grant money. Wheeler was for it; Lent against it.

And who knows? Perhaps there are others who could join in the race eventually. Last time around, Todd Best filed to run against Lent on the last day before filing week closed. In 2017, it appears there’s already two candidates lined up.

Beat blast: 5 things to know in Bremerton this week

Stories featured this week:

1. Which presidential candidates are tweeting about Joe Kennedy
2. Can you legally jump off a Bremerton bridge?
3. The Olympic mountains got a present
4. Which pot store brings in the most cash in Kitsap?
5. Go on a tour of Bremerton’s newest apartments

Please let me know what you think! Suggestions welcomed at

Photo by Pat Gleason.
Photo by Pat Gleason.