The odd asphalt sidewalks on Washington Avenue

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I was startled on my commute this morning to find asphalt — yes asphalt — where concrete sidewalks should be on the $3.5 million Washington Avenue project. 

As you can see from the photo above, it basically looks like there’s another street where sidewalks should be. So what gives?

City officials said in an email earlier this week that yes, asphalt will have to do on the eastern Washington Avenue sidewalk, between Sixth and Fifth streets. The reason is that there’s a proposed development, once called the “Towers Project,” that the city believes will simply rip the street open again when construction on it begins.

The reason for their confidence: the development, begun by Absher Construction, paid upwards of $200,000 for the city to bury power lines on Washington between Sixth and Fifth streets. That suggests the project is not just one for the community development department shelves but that they’re serious about getting going.

Still, it looks odd, don’t you think?

Other project updates: On Monday, work will shift to the western side of Washington Avenue. That means that northbound traffic on Washington will take up the new lane on the east side, with the western side closed down. There won’t be any southbound traffic allowed on Washington, and the intersections at Fifth and Sixth streets will be closed. Contractor RV Associates estimates it will take seven to eight weeks to complete the western work.

The Towers project rendering.
The Towers project rendering.

When completed in mid-October — that’s the hope anyway — the project will have taken the road from four lanes to two, added wider sidewalks, bike lanes, landscaping and decorative lighting.

The project also includes the linking of the 9/11 Memorial park with the wider Evergreen-Rotary Park. In mid-September, crews will demolish the old end of Highland Avenue and a sewer pump house there. They’ll plant grass, put in new pathways and create a new viewing platform of the Port Washington Narrows. Personally, I am really looking forward to seeing the new park, the design of which you can see below.


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Recreational marijuana comes to the east side

The selection of bongs and pipes at the newest pot store in Bremerton.
The selection of bongs and pipes at the newest pot store in Bremerton.

For most people, smoking pot would not qualify as a homework assignment. But for staff at Destination Highway 420, Bremerton’s newest recreational marijuana shop, it’s a possible part of a burgeoning quality control program that calls for rating and reviewing different weed strands and types.

“We want to make sure we have the best quality product around,” said Michelle Beardsley, the store’s operations director and a welder at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

Bremerton’s newest marijuana store, the first on the city’s east side, just got up and running this week — pot in all forms is coming in from growers all over the state — and has a grand opening slated for Saturday. It has been opened by two of the four people who started the county’s first pot store outside South Kitsap, Highway 420, on Charleston Beach Road. In fact, Beardsley and co-owner Brian Rose call it a “sister store.”

But both say it will be different. Located on Hollis Street, across from the Cloverleaf Sports Bar & Grill, the 4,000 square-foot space was once a warehouse. It was last a thrift store before Beardsley and Rose bought the property.

“It had a lot of junk in it, but the building’s in great shape,” Beardsley said.

They painted it the building, rebuilt the inside to give it an “industrial” look, stained the floors, and more. And while the Bremerton area is now home to three recreational pot stores, Rose is confident they’ve found a niche on the East side.

“We’re the closest store in the county until you get to Bainbridge Island,” said Rose, who worked for the school district and various jobs before landing what he called his dream. “We’re really excited to be able to service the north end.”

Their plans do not end at a pot shop, however. By the holidays, they plan to open an “annex” on the site that will sell store merchandise. And come springtime, they hope to open a glass blowing studio that will attract not just those looking to make their own pipes and bongs, but any kind of glassware.

The store is open 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursdays; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.

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Grocery gourmet: freezer section secrets at CJ’s

Richard Kost and Cynthia Jeffries in the freezer section.
Richard Kost and Cynthia Jeffries in the freezer section.

You hear a lot these days about the desire to have a grocery store in downtown Bremerton. Whenever that should occur, the new proprietors will be hard pressed to compete with the freezer section of CJ’s Evergreen General Store on Park Avenue.

Prime rib. Chicken Piccata. Corned beef and cabbage. All there, all freshly made and most with local ingredients. And just about everything costs around $10.

Last time I was in there, I picked up a cup of chili. Might have been some of the best I’ve ever had.  But don’t take my word for it — the chili was among the best at this year’s Empty Bowl fundraiser for Bremerton Foodline.

“You might not expect that at the corner grocery store,” said Cynthia Jeffries, owner of the store since it opened in 2007.

Jeffries expanded the general store in 2009 to include a catering business. She brought on the talents of Richard Kost, a chef with more than two decades’ experience who has headed the kitchens of numerous Seattle restaurants.

With catering, the duo was able to diversify the business but also experiment with some other ideas, including the gourmet freezer section. They’ve been pleasantly surprised by how well it has done, helping to even build a personal chef service.

“For me, it’s a chance to do some higher end foods, right here, with locally sourced products,” Kost said.

Jeffries said a side benefit has been seeing customers of all different income levels come to enjoy the section. For families, it can even compete with fast food in terms of value, but the quality of ingredients is much better. Pints of soup are $5 and other items can even be purchased for less.

“You can’t buy a happy meal for $4,” she points out.

CJ’s is located at 1417 Park Avenue

Is the Cove turning a corner?

Off we go. Thanks to Richard Huddy for the photo.
Off we go. Thanks to Richard Huddy for the photos.

What’s the future hold for Anderson Cove? The Bremerton neighborhood is getting a new park soon and some new life is emerging on nearby 15th Street at Wycoff Avenue.

On Saturday, a group of about 70 of us took a walk to see the changes up close. We heard from Lowell and Heidi Loxsimer, purveyors of one of Kitsap County’s best breakfasts and lunches at the Hi-Lo Cafe. Then, we ventured a half a mile on foot to the Lillian and James Walker Park, which is just about ready to open. Finally, we walked back to Bualabdh Bos, Bremerton’s new Irish pub.

Here’s some of the things we learned along the way:

Anderson’s Cove: Just who were the original residents who gave the cove its name? They are John Peter Anderson and Ellen Noren, both Swedish immigrants who were some of the first settlers in what’s now West Bremerton. According to Lois Jacobs’ Childhood Memories of Anderson’s Cove, John Peter arrived at Port Blakely in 1879 while his future wife would come to Seattle with his sister in 1888.

John Peter Anderson and Ellen Noren.
John Peter Anderson and Ellen Noren. Photo from Lois Jacobs’ Childhood Memories of Anderson’s Cove.

John Peter had a homestead of 160 acres in the area where Bremerton High School is now, selling it when he married Ellen and buying 40 acres at their now-namesake cove. Sadly, John Peter died in 1904, leaving Ellen to raise eight children on her own, not to mention tend for the couple’s cows, chickens and orchard.

The Navy took much of the land for housing to accommodate the city’s World War II building boom. Some of that housing and infrastructure exists to this day.

There was a bridge?: A bridge once crossed Anderson Cove, first to just foot traffic and later another for vehicle access, according to Jacobs. It’s hard to know where exactly the crossing was (I couldn’t find more detail) but it’s likely the cove and surrounding marshlands used to go further south, necessitating a route across them.

The Hi-Lo Cafe Secret: Heidi and Lowell Yoxsimer explained that while the food they’ve been cooking up since 2006 is a big part of their success, part of it is just enjoying themselves.

“You have to keep it fun,” Heidi said.

The cafe recently expanded to open a waiting area to give customers a place to standby until a table opens.

One thing I learned has been talk of a city plan for a Lulu D. Haddon Park business district and community hub. But Hi-Lo, it turns out, is simply ahead of its time.

James and Lillian Walker Park: Colette Berna, the city’s park architect whose works include the revamped Lions, Kiwanis and Blueberry parks, gave some history on the site. The city was able to purchase four properties and develop this .62 acre site with a $1.3 million state Department of Ecology grant. Since then, they’ve used the money to install just about every technique at capturing stormwater to keep it out of Puget Sound. That includes a sand filter collection system, pervious sidewalks, a biorention swale and a Filterra system.

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The parks department received $172,000 from the city’s allocation of federal Community Development Block Grant funds, creating a small amphitheater,  grassy hillside and steps to the beach below. It’s slated to open in a month or two.

The park was named by the City Council for Lillian and James Walker, whose civil rights work during the war and later years made Bremerton a fairer place for all.

The Irish have arrived: To conclude the walk, we stopped in to check out the new Irish pub Bualabdh Bos (“Clap your Hands” in Gaelic). We flooded the place as it opened at 3 p.m. but Sally Carey and Mark Camp were happy to oblige. Camp, whose grandmother taught him to make savory Irish dishes like meat pies, even offered some Irish toasts like this one:

May your glass be ever full.
May the roof over your head be always strong.
And may you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you’re dead.

Thanks to everyone who made this latest Story Walk successful. See you in September for a walk through the old East High School campus. Details to come.

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Here’s links to our previous Story Walks:

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

 

Meet the man in charge of the game-changing $665 million telescope

Bob Abel (left) and Steve Kahn at the Kitsap Conference Center Thursday.
Bob Abel (left) and Steve Kahn at the Kitsap Conference Center Thursday.

Steve Kahn often gets one question about the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, due to start mapping the Heavens in 2022.

“Haven’t we already done that?” people say.

The truth is that such stellar cartography has never been done on this scale before. It’s truly a game-changer, Kahn says.

“The answer to that question is that the sky’s a really big place,” he quips.

And it needs a really big telescope to map it. For example: The mirror on the Hubble Space Telescope is 2.1 meters across. By contrast, the LSST’s will be 8.4 meters.

The teams working on the largest federal project in astronomy today — $665 million to construct a mammoth telescope, build the biggest ever camera for it and capture unprecedented amounts of data — have been right here in Bremerton all week, advancing their cause.

Kahn, who is the director of LSST and a Stanford University professor, is no stranger to big projects, having worked on massive x-ray telescopes and particle accelerators at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC).

But LSST is different in at least one regard: the scientists building all of its parts are scattered throughout the country.

“Most big projects are built by one team and are in one place,” he said.

And despite a world with so much connectivity via the Internet and video conferencing, there’s just no substitute for face to face interaction. Kahn wants to ensure that the telescope builders, camera constructors, data keepers and other scientists don’t bifurcate into fiefdoms but that they’re all working toward the same unified goal.

“We want LSST to not only be a great telescope and great for science, but also to be a great team,” he said.

That’s where Bremerton comes in, the city Olympic College Professor Bob Abel — also a part of LSST — was able to convince his colleagues to come to for an “all hands on deck” weeklong meeting.

This week has been productive in solving a particularly thorny issue facing LSST: how best to map the cosmos. Kahn refers to the “traveling salesman” problem: what’s the route to take to make the most sales and drive the least amount of miles possible?

For LSST, that means finding the most interesting things to study through LSST’s lens in the 10 years they have to do so. Even mathematicians have joined the project to help them attain those efficiencies, using what’s known as “operations research.”

Kahn says the LSST will focus on four main areas: near Earth objects, to see what asteroids might imperil Earth; the science of the Milky Way, to include a first ever 3-D map of it; examining a changing sky, which includes supernovae and the like; and potentially solve some fundamental mysteries, such as learning more about dark energy.

But for the week in Bremerton, Kahn also wanted to build camaraderie. Abel took the charge of bringing the scientists in to the community: playing soccer each morning at Kiwanis Park and hosting talks all week long at SEEFilm Cinemas and around town.

Kahn has been amazed at the some 1,000 people who’ve come out to hear from some of astronomy’s brightest minds. They’re not just asking “surface questions” and show an understanding and curiosity that’s impressed the director. He wonders if even his hometown of Palo Alto would draw that kind of response.

“The thing that’s blown us away is the response from the community,” he said. “In a town this size, that’s phenomenal.”

Are you up for a walk through the cove?

The new park in Anderson Cove is almost done.
The new park in Anderson Cove is almost done.

Good things are happening in Anderson Cove. A new park on the waterfront is slated to open in about a month. Plus, a few new businesses, including an Irish pub and a brewery, have come to 15th Street.

Who wants to go check it out?

At 2 p.m. on Saturday, I will lead my latest Story Walk through the cove, starting at Hi-Lo Cafe at 15th Street and Wycoff Avenue. We’ll hear from the owners about how they’ve created one of the best breakfast and lunch spots in all of Kitsap County.

Then, we’ll set off for an approximately 1/2 mile walk to Bremerton’s newest park, named for Bremerton civil rights pioneers James and Lillian Walker. The park, with an ampitheater-like setting overlooking the Port Washington Narrows, will likely open in September. We’ll get a sneak peak with help from Bremerton Parks Preservation and Development Manager Colette Berna. The architect of many of Bremerton’s redeveloped parks will take us through how the less than 1-acre parcel came together, and how it demonstrates the state’s newest methods to keep stormwater out of Puget Sound.

We’ll return to 15th and Wycoff to conclude the walk (you can also take a bus back for $2) and a stop at Bremerton’s newest restaurant, Bualadh Bos, for some food and good company. I am also hopeful we can speak with the proprietors of soon-to-be opened Hale’s Ales brewery and taproom, on the corner of 15th and Wycoff as well.

I hope you’ll join us for a walk through this changing Bremerton neighborhood Saturday! Please RSVP here, and here’s links to our previous walks.

Photo by Greg Salo.
Photo by Greg Salo.

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

Invasion of the astronomers

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If you have a love of the cosmos, it’s a good time to be alive in Bremerton. Next week, some of astronomy’s brightest minds will be here for a conference. The good news for us laypeople is they’re going to share some of their vast knowledge with us, every night of the week.

Starting Sunday at SEEFilm Cinemas, you can catch astronomers doing TED-style talks (see posted flyer). The most entertaining portion of the events looks to be Tuesday night’s Astronomy Slam, held around downtown (see flyer below).

And just what is bringing them to Bremerton? A telescope. But not just any old telescope — one that will gobble up enough data every night to fill the Library of Congress. It’s called the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, and perched in the Andes Mountains of Chile, it will scan the sky with a 3,200 megapixel camera for a decade starting in 2022.

I’m doing a larger story about the telescope, which will be in the Kitsap Sun in the coming days. Hope to see you around the conference next week.

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Where’d the Parche’s stripes go?

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Where’d the Parche’s awards go?

The USS Parche isn’t going dark again — not for long, anyway.

The sail of the most decorated vessel in U.S. Navy history, which sits in front of Puget Sound Navy Museum, lost its stripes recently. All of its awards were stripped off during its annual painting last week, by volunteers from Submarine Development Squadron 5. That’s the outfit for fast attack submarines Seawolf, Connecticut and Jimmy Carter.

The colorful citations represent nine Presidential Unit Citations, 10 Navy Unit Commendations, 13 Navy Expeditionary Medals and 15 Battle Efficiency Awards.

“The vinyl wasn’t in the greatest shape, so they were actually removed and we’re going to reapply them,” said Danelle Feddes, deputy director and senior curator at the museum.  The shipyard’s sign shop is doing that work.

The sail is owned by the city, but the museum helps to maintain it.

Parche moved to Naval Submarine Base Bangor in 1994 and operated its final years out of Hood Canal. A decommissioning ceremony was held Oct. 19, 2004, at the shipyard, not far from where the sail now rests. Most of the sub’s missions were secret and remain classified.

This guest post was written by Ed Friedrich. Ed was my guest star on this exciting video seen below.

Washington Avenue’s sporting new curbs

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If you’ve been on Washington Avenue lately, you know it’s quite a mess. But the $3.5 million project hit a major milestone Tuesday when the first of its new curbs were placed along the northbound portion of the roadway.

Many engineers have told me of the importance of the placing of the curbs. It signifies a road project’s transition from below ground work to surface construction. And, in this particular project, the curb placement gives us the first look at a sized-down roadway — and how much wider the sidewalks will be.

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The project is adding those wider sidewalks, bike lanes and street lights to both sides of the road, between the Manette Bridge and Fifth Street. The roadway will be permanently dropped from two lanes to one in each direction.

Contractor RV Associates has already added new water, sewer and stormwater pipes underneath the road. Other utilities have also been placed underground, including burying the power lines between Fifth and Sixth streets.

Now, they’ll finish up the northbound street, pouring new concrete sidewalks and laying asphalt. There’s a good chance that work will be completed next week.

Following that, work will transition to the southbound side, or “upper” lanes. The project is slated for completion in October.

Nite Shift no more: Development looms at old Bremerton bar site

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The Nite Shift is no longer for sale. It will be demolished in mere days.

Dale Sperling was one of more than a dozen people who gave an earful to the Bremerton City Council last Wednesday night. The 41-year Kitsap resident and longtime developer praised what he called “one of the best physical settings in Puget Sound,” with a “high value” workforce and a ferry to Seattle.

“So why is downtown Bremerton not taking off?” he asked the Council.

His answer was blight. And, aside from making arguments to the Council that night to use federal housing dollars to combat Bremerton’s “empty building problem,” Sperling has recently purchased what he referred to as the “epitome of blight.”

Sperling’s now the owner of the old Nite Shift tavern, which hasn’t been open for years. During an inspection inside a colleague of his actually fell partially through the floor — hence his reference to the epitome of blight.

The building, home to both the Nite Shift and Scotty’s taverns in decades gone by, had been bought by the owners of the Horse & Cow a few years ago. But Mike Looby and Larry Timby have found success on the recently brick-lined section of Fourth Street. In came Sperling, seeking an opportunity in downtown Bremerton. The 1946-built tavern sold for $250,000, according to the Kitsap County Assessor’s Office.

Sperling, once the president and CEO of Unico Properties, owner of around 15 million square feet of commercial real estate in the western United States, says he’s “bullish” on Bremerton and Kitsap County. More recently, he founded a company known as OneBuild, which manufactures prefabricated modular units — “everything but the toilet paper,” he told me — and then stacks them like legos into contemporary apartments.

The bulldozers should get going at the site, 242 Burwell Street, within days.

What will happen after demolition is still up in the air. Sperling, who is working through the permitting process and has presented plans to construct 30 units there, says there’s no timetable for construction. He does not want to put the cart before the horse, he told me.

If he goes forward with his plans, his project will join the list of downtown apartment projects including The 606, a 71-unit venture being constructed by Lorax Partners down the street, as well as The Spyglass Hill apartments, an 80-unit apartment complex overlooking the Manette Bridge. Other projects have been planned near Evergreen Park and on Washington Avenue as well. All told, Bremerton could have hundreds more apartments in its downtown core in just a few years.

Sperling is confident Bremerton will soon thrive. And he’d like to be a part of that. He shakes his head when he sees surface parking lots in downtown Bremerton.

“To think, the highest and best use is surface parking,” he told the Council. “It’s a complete non-sequitur.”

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