Happy new year, Bremerton! Here’s a list of the 10 most interesting things I learned about Bremerton in 2014.
1. Bremerton’s red light camera experiment is sputtering
The first year of Bremerton’s red light cameras brought in almost $850,000 for the city. Since, that amount has basically been in free fall.
In 2015, if history serves, it will barely bring in any revenue for the city at all.
Combine that with inconclusive evidence they do much to promote safety at intersections and a scandal that has embroiled the company to which Bremerton pays $432,000 a year in operational fees, and the cameras may not last much longer. Mayor Patty Lent has signaled she’d get rid of them if they become a cost for the city.
2. Bremerton’s rate of violent crime is plummeting
I rode with Bremerton Police in every shift possible the first year I worked at the Kitsap Sun. I’d routinely witness drunken fights, domestic assaults and even a Tasering (interesting if sad story, ask me about it sometime).
That was 2005, the year Bremerton held the dubious distinction of being no. 1 in violent crime per capita in the state of Washington.
Yes, Bremerton still has its share of crime. But its violent crime rate is half what it was in 2005 — 11.7 incidents per thousand then to 5.7 in 2013, according to FBI statistics. That’s a pretty remarkable drop. There’s lots of reasons why — rising homeownership, renewed parks and focused policing to name a few — which you can learn about here.
3. Those tires won’t remove themselves
Spare a tire? The police shooting range west of Gorst, within Bremerton’s watershed property, has plenty of them. In fact, the city has spent in excess of $12,000 removing them about 8,500 of them, and more may be spent.
The police department thought they might need them for training but at a certain point, Public Works Director Chal Martin said they had to go. How they got there was actually even investigated by a separate police agency. Ultimately, no wrongdoing was assigned.
4. It’s the water
Meanwhile in the Bremerton watershed, another little brouhaha cascaded from the headwaters of the Union River. The city built a dam in the 1950s and has used the water above it as the bulk of the drinking water for around 1/3 of Kitsap County’s residents.
Because the lake is remote — like 3,000 acres around it remote — the state doesn’t require Bremerton to filter its water supply (though the water is treated with chlorine and ultraviolet light).
City officials are adamant the land around it stay preserved. The city went so far as to release photos this year of trespassers — poachers, hikers and bikers — using the area.
Some wonder if the city couldn’t lighten up a bit, and a countywide trail is being contemplated for the total 8,000 acre parcel the city owns, where the city also has a golf course and the police shooting range (and by the way, anyone need some extra tires?).
5. The towers were for the hoses
Why, when you see old fire stations do they have towers that rise into the sky from their basic structures?
Turns out fire hoses used to be made of cotton, which needed to be hung up to dry after fighting a fire. If they weren’t dried properly, they’d mold. Today’s hoses are synthetic.
6. There’s redwoods in them there sewer towers
Speaking of towers — a somewhat routine at the city’s sewer treatment plant contains an interesting tidbit.
Some giant filters made of redwood trees are being retired out. While the new material is plastic , the redwoods, from the 1980s, have broken down but may have a second life as beauty bark (Or bark. Or mulch. Or whatever term you like).
Public works officials say the city will use it around its properties, maybe even parks, if its environmentally safe to do so.
7. Bye bye Maple Leaf, may your sign be immortal
Yes, we said goodbye to the Maple Leaf Tavern in 2014. The place was unrivaled in its around 77 years tending bar in Kitsap County. But the now fabled Lower Wheaton Way watering hole closed due to nonpayment of $25,000 in taxes, in 2010. And city engineers saw it as a chance to clear some needed room for the Lower Wheaton Way project earlier this year, tearing it down for $18,000.
Breakfast at Sally’s author Richard LeMieux called its slanted floor — you have to admit it had been worn down in recent years — the feel of “one of those oblique fun houses with a moving floor” that actually got more stable as you drank.
I get asked a lot about if its storied sign was preserved. The answer: yes. It is in the capable hands of the Kitsap Historical Society.
8. The ‘Mo-Sai’ Bank Building has the state’s most complex Carillon system
A longtime curiosity of mine was satisfied when I was learning about the bells on the roof of the Chase Bank building at Fifth and Pacific this year. That odd facade on the building giving it the look of a vertical beach? It’s called Mo-Sai, and the architects used this rock peppering as a way to reflect the Northwest’s rugged terrain. Huh.
It certainly is unique. But up on its roof are the speakers that play Bremerton’s Carillon system. Probably the most complete in the Pacific Northwest. Yep, they’re real bells. And they played on a snowy Christmas Eve, 1971, for the first time.
9. So that all may play
When all was said and done, around $500,000 and countless volunteer hours had made Kitsap County’s first all-accessible playground possible.
The playground, inside Bremerton’s Evergreen-Rotary Park, is almost always packed when the weather’s nice. Hard to believe how quickly it came along — a testament to what the community can do when it comes together.
10. Mudslides in Schley Canyon
Fish passable? What about a mudslide? The state views Schley Canyon, that land cavity that cuts Manette from the rest of East Bremerton (or does it? The boundaries, to be fair, are unclear) as one fish could head up, or fish passable. The city says the little crevasse’s just a drainage and it doesn’t need to pay millions of dollars to replace the 1927 culvert over it at Lower Wheaton Way.
But the canyon has had a slide once when rains get too heavy. A geologist told me the canyon’s probably not a huge slide hazard. But it’s something Mayor Patty Lent said recently she’d like to further examine to be sure.
- *Many are just convinced the apartments at 704 Chester Avenue are haunted. Even the skeptics have to agree the building does have a long, and sometimes spooky history. It served as the site of Harrison’s first hospital and was later converted into apartments. Bremerton native and Washington State Legislator Speaker of the House Frank Chopp’s low-income housing nonprofit improved the complex in the early 2000s, but residents there still say there’s still strange noises at odd hours.
- *No new homes — or any structures — can be built out over the waters of Puget Sound. But the homes that remain on the water near the Bremerton Boardwalk enjoy a “grandfathered” and can stay for as long as they’d like as long as they’re maintained.
Are there any I missed you’d like to add?