Here’s a question I’ve been hearing a lot
lately. “I am not a member of the Bremerton YMCA, but I’ve
heard you can still swim there for free periodically.”
There have been doubts cast about whether this is
true, so I went to the source: Bremerton Parks Director Jeff
Elevado and YMCA Director Jane Erlandsen. Both confirmed that once
every quarter, local residents can use the pool for free, as part
of their operating agreement (the YMCA runs the pool but the city
In fact, it’s not just the pool. Elevado told me.
“The Bremerton YMCA provides voucher
for one visit per quarter,” he said. “The visit provides full
access to the Y, including the pool.”
Felicienne Griffin-Matheson asked me recently on
Facebook why there are so many manhole covers on Trenton
Avenue. “If anyone has driven Trenton they know what the difference
between a drunk driver and a man hole avoider is. Why is there 50+
man hole covers between 11th and Stone on Trenton? I have been wondering why for so
Others commented that Lower Wheaton Way has a whole bunch of
For the answer, I consulted Wayne Hamilton, the city’s utility
operations manager. He printed maps showing the city’s network of
water, sewer and stormwater pipes that snake under the road.
The short answer, Felicienne, is that the street is old and has
seen a lot in its lifetime. The more elaborate answer is that,
as time and development of the street has gone on, more underground
utilities have been needed, and added.
Anytime one of the pipes under Trenton has needed a new branch,
a manhole cover has to be added, Hamilton said. Also, anytime a
pipe turns at a 45 degree angle or higher, a manhole cover must be
added. The reason is that clogs in those pipes are most likely to
be found at the corners, so they have to be easily accessed by
crews to get them unclogged.
“If things get plugged, you want to have access to it,” he told
Also, the city embarked on a utility project there about 25
that separated sewer flows from runoff — or stormwater — ones.
The reason: each time we have a big storm and lots of rain, it
overflows the city’s sewer treatment plant, causing sewage to be
spilled into Puget Sound. By creating a new system for the runoff,
you keep it from going to the sewer system, but you also get more
utility covers on the street above.
“That all adds up to a lot of man holes,” he
Several people have asked about the
foundation on a plateau off Kitsap Way near Westbay Auto Parts (see
For the answer, I asked the city’s community
development department. The foundation is actually a part of the
construction of a private home with a large garage. Larry Taylor, a
local resident who fixes bikes as a hobby, is the applicant.
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If you’ve been by the Bay Bowl on Lower Wheaton Way
recently, you’ll notice there’s something missing. The
letters are gone, spelling another shift for the once-popular
bowling alley along the bluffs of the Port Washington Narrows.
Elsewhere in this week’s Beat Blast, you’ll learn:
At issue were changes in the city’s zoning code, to
include how many parking spaces developers of apartments must
install per unit they build. The city’s planning
commission had recommended 1/2 of a space for every unit at the
city’s biggest population centers EXCEPT downtown. That means for
every 100 units built, 50 parking spaces are needed at a
But the City Council had, at its Wednesday meeting a
week ago, raised that to one space per unit (e.g. 100 units=at
least 100 parking spaces). And the Council approved that new
But there’s one exception to that rule:
the city’s downtown area has required just 1/2 space since
2007 and it is staying that way for now. That was the main bone of
contention for a number of small business owners and others in the
crowd. Chase Linbo, manager of Game Wizard Blue Sky Hobbies on
Fourth Street, said his business has enjoyed much success in the
location. Except for one thing.
“The only problem I have is parking,” he said.
He and others worried about the idea developers could
put in just one half parking space per apartment unit, saying it
would make parking problems downtown worse.
Others supported the 1/2 space minimum for the
downtown area. Dale Sperling, who is building a
nearly 50-unit project on Burwell Street, said his project
would not pencil were it not for the 1/2 space minimum.
“We would not be developing that building if it had
to be one spot per unit,” he said.
City Clerk Shannon Corin said a
parking study is ongoing and should provide analysis for what
the city can do about what one property owner called a “parking
disaster.” Many in the audience, as well as several on the Council,
said they’re waiting for the results before jumping to a final
Many members of the Council acknowledged the parking problems
downtown. But an upbeat Council President Eric Younger seemed to
signal that it sure beat the alternative — a downtown with no one
in it. “This is potentially a good problem to have,” he said.
I chronicled other zoning changes, including the resurrection of
duplex construction in some areas,
in this previous story.
Elsewhere in Wednesday’s Council meeting:
Tax Exemption: The Council extended the city’s
multifamily property tax exemption. Downtown developers could
already access eight years without property taxes for building
there and 12 years if a percentage of the units met the definition
of “affordable.” In a unanimous vote, the Council voted to extend
the exemption beyond downtown to areas like Charleston, Wheaton
Way, and other more dense areas of the city called its
Pathway Extension: The Rotary Club
of downtown Bremerton donated $20,000 Wednesday night to build a
new 350-foot waterfront pathway at Evergreen-Rotary Park. I had
previously asked Colette Berna, the parks department’s preservation
and development manager, about the work. She said it will connect a
new waterfront outlook — where the old pump station used to be
— to the city’s 9/11 Memorial. About $17,000 in federal
funding is also being pursued to complete sidewalks in the area of
the new portion of the park, Berna said.
If you’ve been down to the newest portion of the park
lately, you know the grass is growing in well. For background on
the project connecting the old park to the new,
Crime stat suspicions: During Police
Chief Steve Strachan’s monthly report, he noted arrested were up,
from 179 in April 2014 to 212 to April 2016. He again chalked that
up to a number of warrants for failing to appear in court on
previous charges. Some other crimes were increasing too, including
trespassing, which rose from 18 reported incidents in April 2014 to
45 in April 2016.
Comprehensive Plan fruition: Last,
but not least, the City Council tonight passed the Comprehensive
Plan, a roadmap for growth in the next 20 years. The city is
continuing its “centers” concept, encouraging more dense growth in
certain areas — Charleston, Manette, downtown, Eastside (where the
hospital is now), Wheaton Way and the Puget Sound Industrial Center
near the airport.
The city expects 14,000 people and 19,000 more jobs
to be located in Bremerton in 2036, city planner Allison Satter
told the Council Wednesday.
A number of changes are being made to the
comprehensive plan regarding land use. Satter described the changes
Wednesday night as a simpler regulatory framework — “Tangible,
readable, and comprehensible” — than the plan that precedes it.
More to come. For the entire agenda
Law enforcement can get messy
sometimes. Such was the case Wednesday, as officers
converged on the house of a man suffering a mental health crisis in
West Bremerton. As officers surrounded the place, a sergeant, Randy
Plumb, inadvertently stepped on an Iris in the neighbor’s yard.
“The very nice neighbor expressed
great thankfulness we were there doing our job, but also expressed
her displeasure in the sergeant stepping on her plants,” Plumb
wrote in his report of the incident.
Be sure to note that Sgt. Plumb
referred to himself in the third person, which Bremerton Police
Chief Steve Strachan believes might have been to “create a distance
from personal responsibility.” (If it isn’t obvious, the chief has
a good sense of humor.)
Plumb did indeed take personal
responsibility, however. Following “much grief” from colleagues
there, he drove to Bremerton City Nursery and purchased a brand
new, fully grown Iris for the neighbor, Jen Budis.
“When the Sergeant explained the
circumstances to the nursery employee, they laughed and insisted on
giving him a discount,” Strachan said. “With his tail between his
legs, Sgt. Plumb responded back to the neighbor’s house, offered an
apology, and presented the new iris plant.”
And Budis’ response? She took to
Facebook to share it.
And, more good news: Bremerton
police, with help of deputies from the Kitsap County Sheriff’s
Office, were able to help the man in crisis out of his home and the
situation was resolved safely.
It’s game time for the Marvin Williams
Center. The $6.4 million project, to include a
gymnasium and job skills center, will break ground July 7 at the
corner of Park Avenue and 8th Street.
“We’re ready and boy are we excited,” said Larry
Robertson, pastor of Emmanuel Apostolic Church, which is
spearheading the project.
It’s been a long road for the New Life Development
Agency, the development arm of the church that has been
planning the community center for more than a decade. Once opened,
the center will provide everything from job training to a place for
teens to play after school. It will be named for Williams, a
longtime NBA star born and raised here.
The center was $755,000 away from full funding last
following a $100,000 from longtime developer Tim Ryan. But in
the time since, several large donations have rolled in, including
the Kitsap Great Give. Robertson said the organization is still
short the project’s $6.4 million price tag, but by an amount it is
confident it will reach in the coming months.
There’s a new city auditor in town. Jennifer
Sims, a local forensic accountant, will take on the job of
conducting audits of all kinds of facets of the city
The Bremerton City Council approved her hiring at their regular
“I thought it would be challenging work,”
Sims told me last week, adding later: “Maybe I can help
to save Bremerton some money.”
Sims takes over for Gary Nystul, the former auditor
of more than a decade, who quit following the City Council’s
decision to reduce the role from 40 hours a week to 16.
Sims, 55, has a small forensic accounting
firm she runs from her home west of Bremerton. She has two decades
of experience “calculating economic damages in litigation and
insurance, with an emphasis on lost profits/business interruption,
construction damages, lost rents, personal injury wage losses, and
economic losses resulting from fraud,” according
to her LinkedIn profile. She also worked as an internal
auditor for the state of Alaska.
“She has an extensive resume, and strong and broad
experience to bring to the role,” said Leslie Daugs, the Bremerton
City Councilwoman who serves as chair of the city’s audit committee
and who oversaw her hiring.
The reduction of hours was not a problem for Sims,
who will also remain in private practice.
The position had gotten a lot of attention from Bremerton Mayor
Patty Lent and the City Council in recent years. Here’s why,
from the article I wrote about Nystul’s retirement:
Nystul, also a Poulsbo City Councilman, has served in the
position since 2003. In recent years, his position was increasingly
scrutinized by Mayor Patty Lent and some members of the City
Council, who felt that the position was outdated and that outside
organizations could perform more specialized and productive
The auditor is unique in the state and within the city’s
government. Called for by the city’s charter, the auditor does not
answer to the mayor or council but to a five-person committee — two
council members, two city residents and a certified public
accountant. They alone have the power to set the auditor’s agenda
and hire or fire one.
For more about the position, click here. I
will be interested to find out what the new auditor decides to
It’s not often
you hear about the theft of a three-wheeled bike. But on
Monday, such a trike was taken in front of the Fred Meyer in East
Bremerton — one belonging to a popular store employee who depends
on it for getting to and from work.
For now, Pablo Lozano will have to take the bus to
“Disappointing,” is how he described the theft.
Others — and he has quite the following at the Fred
Meyer and beyond — describe the theft more harshly, and are hoping
to see justice in this case.
He was working his shift Monday when another employee
informed him someone might be “messing” with his trike. He went out
front to find it was gone.
This wasn’t just any trike. Lozano had it customized
with a speaker, motor and lights. He suffered a stroke and
meningitis when he was just five years old, so the bike’s brakes
work through his left hand. He didn’t lock it up Monday — he rarely
does, noting a community of good people who’ve never touched it
since he started working there — and someone wandered off with
Since the theft, many tips have rolled in about its
whereabouts. It may have been painted and taken to Port Orchard. In
any event, if you have any information about the bike’s
whereabouts, call 911. The county sheriffs’ case number is
Several efforts to get Lozano a new trike are
underway. I’m keeping an eye on them, and will keep you posted if
anyone is able come to Lozano’s aid.
UPDATE #1: Seattle E-Bike is outfitting Pablo with a
new bike and are delivering it to him soon, Lozano told me. Here’s
the story of
how the delivery happened.
UPDATE #2: Strangely, another trike was stolen from a
Bremerton home this week in the North Wycoff area (pictured). But
it was found a few days later.