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.

10 thoughts on “Street closure part of church’s growing campus plans

  1. I don’t have a great deal of energy around this, but would feel much better if this were a tax paying member of the city.

    1. I commute to the shipyard on that road regularly. The street isn’t super busy, and this would be a great change for the church, but what exactly does the city get for turning over that real estate? Is this essentially a gift? The previous commenter pointed out that there won’t be any increased tax revenue; I suppose road maintenance would go down, whatever that’s worth. I’d like a bigger front yard, will the city consider giving me a lane of my street?

  2. I’m not caring for the closing of the southern portion of Veneta, as the alley behind 4th avenue empties onto Veneta. This would create a access problem for the homes around the southern portion of Veneta. I’m not so opposed to the northern section closure, however I am in agreement with the earlier commenter that it would sit better if the church (who can afford a $350k organ) would be a tax payer.

    1. The church did by the organ. The body of the church( all the members )donated one pipe at a time as a pledge for two years to get that organ The Catholic Church is not a bank. Our school teachers make less than public school teachers and do more. Our parents volunteer 50 hours per family per year to help it run. We have money because all give time, talent, and treasure.

  3. Kathleen: Everyone is aware that individuals are paying property taxes, that wasn’t what I was referring to. There is really no need to get into a debate on the warrants of church tax free status either… I’m merely pointing out that the city is apparently going to give property to the church… So what do the people of Bremerton get out of this proposed property transaction?

  4. That is the only light between Warren and Naval if you wish to cross 6th safely. I drive that street almost every day and am opposed to this church putting us in danger or making us drive father so they can try to make their own little Rome.

    1. Thank you for pointing out the same problem that I have with this street closure. If Veneta closes, the church should pay to move the stoplight to a new intersection on 6th. I’ll definitely be at the meeting on Monday.

  5. I live on 4th Street but my parking is on the alley between Veneta and Chester. I use the light on 6th to go to the store and to get to the light on Warren since the city blocked off 4th and 5th on Warren. It seems the non-tax paying church has more rights than the tax paying public. I am 81 yrs old and ambulances and fire dept would have a problem and take more time to get to us.

  6. I’m a Catholic and I oppose a campus at my parish. I think that Father Lappe is letting pride stand in the way of reason, as it would be his idea and would draw attention from the Archdiocese if it goes through and the lay people pay for it. Father Lappe, must think about the need for people who can’t climb the hill nor stairs to have access to their front doors, which includes the only place available to park a car at. Let me know when he thinks about others and then I will re-consider my oppose vote.

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