All posts by josh farley

New development coming to 11th and Warren

Photo by Tristan Baurick.
A new look at 11th and Warren. Photo by Tristan Baurick.

The heavily-traveled corner at 11th Street and Warren Avenue has been home to tennis matches, radio-controlled cars, and even aspiring ninjas.

Now, it’s becoming a place for homes.

Earth movers have been busy busting up ramshackle tennis courts and an old RC track to make room for six homes that will be built on the site — which actually abuts 12th Street — in the coming months. Brad Young, a developer and house-flipper who moved here three years ago, believes the location will flourish.

“I’m really looking forward to building there,” he said, noting it’s within walking distance of the ferry. “I think the market is really good in Bremerton.”

Google Earth view of the site.
Google Earth view of the site.

Each residence, constructed by Young’s company Spectrum Homes, will be about 1,600 square-feet and will include garages and covered decks. The construction comes at a time when the city has serious demand for housing.

The area has seen its share of changes over the years. Before the Warren Avenue Bridge was constructed in 1958, 11th Street didn’t even reach Warren Avenue due to an embankment near Chester Avenue. The Pee Wees have long practiced at the playfield and tennis courts at 11th and Warren were once home to city league matches. There was also a Girl Scout’s hall on the site, according to former Kitsap Sun Editor Chuck Stark.

Bob Fredericks, a sports community legend and one of the founders of Kitsap Tennis and Athletic Club, had run tournaments on the public courts there since 1947.

More recently, one of the courts was converted into a miniature race track for radio-controlled cars. And the corner was the popular spinning spot of the Bremerton Ninja until he moved to Port Townsend.

The city, which purchased property closest to Warren Avenue, added a right turn lane there in 2013.

Bye bye, tennis courts. Photo by Tristan Baurick.
Bye bye, tennis courts. Photo by Tristan Baurick.

Beat Blast: A new sports bar, antiaircraft guns and a hoot

Bremerton may be Kitsap’s urban center, but don’t go telling the wildlife. From bald eagles up high to whales deep in the Sound, there’s an amazing array of creatures that share this city where we live.

On this week’s Bremerton Beat Blast, you’ll see I’ve found a pretty amazing bird within Madrona Trails in East Bremerton.

You’ll also learn about:

A new restaurant and bar set to open in a long-shuttered West Bremerton building that was once a Chinese restaurant;

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The return of a World War II battleship crew to Bremerton to visit some relics of the ship upon which they once served;

The upcoming $6 million Lebo Boulevard project;

Why it seems like everyday, an aircraft carrier comes and goes from Bremerton.

Questions or comments? Send ‘em my way, to josh.farley@kitsapsun.com.

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Mailbag: What’s the construction on Second Street all about?

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Q: What’s up with all of the construction work on Second Street, within and around the headquarters of Kitsap Credit Union

A: This is one I’ve been hearing a lot lately. Portions of the credit union’s parking garage have been fenced off and construction crews have been digging a trench along Second Street outside the garage (pictured).

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Photos by Larry Steagall.

I spoke with Leah Olson, the credit union’s vice president for marketing, to get the scoop.

“Water has been leaking into the underground parking garage,” she told me.

The company hired engineers to analyze how the leaks were occurring and following about three years’ research, the project to fix them began following the Blackberry Festival over Labor Day weekend, Olson said.

Plugging the leaks is not an easy process and the work will continue into December, Olson said. But she noted that the downtown branch will remain open for business through it all, and the company wanted to make sure to minimize impact to its membership.

The Kitsap Credit Union opened its headquarters downtown in July 2006.

Meanwhile, there’s some other construction nearby as well, closer to the ferry terminal (pictured below). That site, constructed by its owner Tim Ryan Construction, will house a 5,000-square-foot building for Chung’s Teriyaki, plus plop three apartments on top.

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IN PHOTOS: Nimitz departs Bremerton

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The departure of the USS Nimitz Wednesday came as a bit of a surprise. While a friend told me that Bremerton’s second aircraft carrier was heading out, my garage door opener was still working fine.

Alas, when I checked in with Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton officials Wednesday morning, the massive ship was already moving out into Sinclair Inlet.

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I pedaled down to Bachmann Park in Manette for a view of the 1,100 foot-long carrier, a major muscle in our country’s permanent military force, and its 3,000-strong crew. The ship is headed out for sea trials.

Later, I headed up to East 30th Street, as the Nimitz passed through Rich Passage and into the wider Puget Sound.

We’re getting used to seeing these beasts, as the USS John C. Stennis, Bremerton’s other home-ported carrier recently departed for training.

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The Nimitz, which turns 42 this next May, is the fleet’s oldest carrier. It was homeported in Bremerton following its 16-month, $240 million overhaul, and will remain here until at least 2019.

Did you get photos? Send them to me at josh.farley@kitsapsun.com and I will upload them here.

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Jessica Perkins got these two shots of the Nimitz as it departed Rich Passage.
Jessica Perkins got these shots of the Nimitz as it departed Rich Passage.
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Photo by Jessica Perkins.
A couple of great shots by Matt King of the Nimitz with Seattle as the backdrop.
A couple of great shots by Matt King of the Nimitz with Seattle as the backdrop.
Photo by Matt King.
Photo by Matt King.
Passing by Bremerton. Photo by Leslie Peterson.
Passing by Bremerton. Photo by Leslie Peterson.
Photos from Manchester by Barbara DaZelle.
Photos from Manchester by Barbara DaZelle.
Photo by Barbara DaZelle.
Photo by Barbara DaZelle.

Beat blast: A jazzy band, ferry food and a pretty rainbow

Bremerton High School’s band continues to improve under the tutelage of Max Karler. And this month, you’ll have the chance to push the program higher. The Lions Club is hosting “Knights in Harmony” at the Admiral Theater to raise money for the instrumental music program at the high school. (More details are here.)

Elsewhere on the Bremerton Beat Blast this month, you’ll learn:

screen-shot-2016-10-04-at-5-03-57-pmHow Waste Management cut off 800 garbage customers this month for nonpayments;

How rumors of a Gregory Way takeover by the Navy were greatly exaggerated;

What to expect to be able to eat from the new Washington State Ferries’ food contractor;

That the weekend’s showers created a beautiful rainbow over Bremerton.

Questions? Comments? Send them to me. I’m at josh.farley@kitsapsun.com.

The hidden beauty of Stephenson Canyon

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The only thing that saved Stephenson Canyon from development was the canyon itself. Its steep, fern-lined terrain made it too hard to clear for houses as World War II-era Bremerton boomed.

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Lots of ferns cover the canyon’s walls.

Today, it’s a hidden gem in the midst of the urban neighborhoods that make up Sheridan Park. And this Saturday, we will do some exploring of this 27-acre oasis on the Kitsap Sun’s latest Story Walk.

In October 1942, the recently-established Bremerton Housing Authority opened the first homes at Sheridan Park, the remnants of which you can still find there today. They put people in them so fast the electricity wasn’t even working when the first tenants moved in, according to an article in the Bremerton Sun. But they could not build within the canyon, even as the population of Bremerton grew from 15,000 to 85,000 during those war years.

The US Public Housing Authority sold the canyon, and the property around it, to Bremerton in 1958, according to Bremerton parks department records. Ruth Reese, a Bremerton historian, told me that a generation of children who grew up around it took advantage of their natural surroundings, playing on its trails and giant stumps.

Later, however, it languished. People started dumping trash there. Children stopped playing and the trails seemed to attract a seedier element. But in 2008, some federal money and community projects to clean up the canyon brought the canyon back into the community fold.

Still, I have talked with some residents who feel the park is not safe, and have observed drug use there. Most disturbingly, a level 3 sex offender is accused of groping and assaulting two women on the trails in July. He remains in the Kitsap County Jail awaiting trial. (It’s story no. 4 on the Bremerton Beat Blast below.)

This Story Walk aims to accomplish two things:

  1. Learn the history and the layout of this magnificent green space, so you may enjoy it in the future;
  2. Get tips on how you can stay safe within the canyon, with help from Bremerton Police Sgt. Tim Garrity, who will speak at the walk.

Hope to see you at 1 p.m. Saturday at the city greenhouses off Birch Street. RSVP and view the rest of the details for the walk here.

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Navy says it won’t take Gregory Way

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One of Bremerton’s most historic and picturesque streets won’t become Navy property anytime soon — though word was it could have. 

Rumors have been circulating on Gregory Way — which runs parallel to the edge of the Navy’s Bremerton base and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard — of a federal takeover.

Mary Whitney, whose family home has been on the street half a century, said she’d heard the Navy was interested in expanding its buffer with the city. I started looking into the claim myself, and while it is entirely possible the Navy discussed the option, the Navy officially went public with the rumor being a “myth.”

In a recently released joint-land use study, the Navy addressed the idea head on.

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I also confirmed that with Navy Spokeswoman Silvia Klatman.

“The rumor that the Navy would like to purchase Gregory Way property as a buffer has been circulated for a few years and was addressed most recently in the Joint Land Use Study,” Klatman told me. “The Navy currently has no plans or funding requests to purchase property on Gregory Way.”

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This home is currently for sale on the road for $225,000.

If you haven’t visited Gregory Way, you’re missing out on a beautiful trek through venerable architecture and formidable trees. Heidi Witherspoon, who wrote a story for the Sun about the street’s revival in 2001, described it this way: “Craftsman bungalows mingle with Mediterranean stucco villas and English-style brick cottages.” There are also towering conifers that date back to the city’s roots.

It’s also the same street upon which Frank Wetzel, author and editor of the “Victory Gardens & Barrage Balloons” that chronicled Bremerton’s war years, grew up.

It was once Second Street until the Navy changed it to honor a Navy captain named Luther Gregory.

Beat Blast: Gold Mountain, the Bremerton ninja and a gator’s head

Bremerton is losing its ninja. Well, kind of. Brandon Duran, the man who’s been dazzling drivers with his staff at 11th Street and Warren Avenue for a couple years, is moving to Port Townsend.

But fear not: he insists he’ll be back here most Tuesdays and will have time for occasional “spin sessions.”

It’s a busy Beat Blast this week (click the video above to watch). Elsewhere on it, you’ll hear stories about:

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A new drop-in music night at Bualadh Bos, where musicians young and old are getting in on the act;

The financial health of the city-owned Gold Mountain Golf Complex, and what its managers are doing to get it in the black;

Some new developments along Wheaton Way, including a new apartment complex and transit center;

And some new video of the historic Astoria ferry, once homeported in Bremerton. (Special thanks to videographer Jeffrey Daly, and, to help out on the ferry’s restoration efforts, click here.)

Oh, and don’t miss the gator head at the end? Send me questions or comments at josh.farley@kitsapsun.com.

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When I say Bremerton and you mark Bainbridge

This boat is bound for Bremerton, even if your receipt says otherwise.
This boat is bound for Bremerton, even if your receipt says otherwise.

You’ve heard this one before. On my way back from Seattle a few weeks ago, the attendant that sold me my ferry ticket to board the Bremerton boat marked me down as heading to Bainbridge.

I politely protested. He said it didn’t matter. I insisted that, as a reporter, I had been told repeatedly by ferry officials that it did matter. He called his boss. His boss told him it didn’t matter.

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My actual receipt.

I left with my receipt and plenty of questions for ferries officials. Once again, a Bremerton rider had been counted as heading to Bainbridge, as I’d heard many times before. Only this time, I witnessed it with my own eyes.

I consulted Ian Sterling, a ferries spokesman, about my receipt. Had something changed, in light of the more careful counts crews are doing to ensure they’re following Coast Guard capacity requirements?

No, Sterling said. The attendants should be marking them down correctly. And his supervisor should’ve voided the sale and started the process again. Sterling said the staff would be getting a “written reminder” to ensure accuracy.

“This is something that comes up from time to time,” Sterling said.

Why it’s important: The ferry system uses those ridership statistics for planning its route capacity. So it is a big deal, and if you find yourself in a similar situation, please let me know.

In my own case, the attendant vowed to count the next two motorists as going to Bremerton regardless, as a consolation prize.

I’m puzzled about why this keeps happening. I can only chalk it up to a disconnect between those managing the ferries and the people selling the tickets. It only applies when you drive your vehicle on the vessel in Seattle; walk-on passengers buy a specific ticket.

But has it affected the statistics? Hard to say.

The Bainbridge route indeed has higher ridership. Bainbridge’s carried 6.3 million riders in 2015; Bremerton’s carried 2.7 million. But of those, 25 percent drove on the ferry in Bremerton, compared with 30 percent on Bainbridge in 2015. This might just be Bremerton’s typically-high walk-on passenger counts but if attendants continue to count Bremerton’s vehicles as Bainbridge’s, it stands to reason it will have an effect.   

But for some Bremerton ferry riders, getting the wrong receipt is a symptom of a bigger issue: That their route is treated differently. Bainbridge has vessels built in the 1990s; Bremerton’s are late-60s era models. Bainbridge has more sailings. One commuter I talked to even feels the terminal in Seattle is nicer on the Bainbridge side. And last week, when the Kaleetan ferry experienced steering issues, passengers to Bremerton were ultimately taken to Bainbridge, where a bus waited to take them home. Generally, when a Bainbridge vessel goes out of service, it is quickly replaced, setting off a domino effect that impacts the Bremerton run.

Even the credit card system at Colman Dock doesn’t acknowledge Bremerton. Regardless of the destination the attendant marks you down for, your credit card statement will say “WSFERRIES-BAINBRIDGE,” as the line item no matter what.

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Here comes Chimacum.

I asked Sterling if he hears such complaints about favoritism.

We hear from most routes from time to time that they believe other routes get more attention,” he told me.

The San Juans routes, for instance, feel Seattle “get more than they do,” he said.

“I can tell you that WSF is focused on the system as a whole,” Sterling said. “Bremerton is one of our core central sound routes.”

He closed with one final point: Guess who’s getting a brand new $123 million ferry next spring?

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But when it comes to receipts, it appears the only way to ensure your trip counts to its proper destination is to keep a close eye on it and contact the ferry system if you’re Bainbridged* by mistake. I’ll be happy to help, too.

*Not a real word.

How long will the construction cones linger?

Riddell's new paving. Photo by Larry Steagall.
Riddell’s new paving. Photo by Larry Steagall.

Road construction typically declines as summer ends and the rains of fall return. But around Bremerton, have you noticed the construction cones are lingering?

Here’s a roundup of road construction projects, and when you can expect things will wrap up.

Riddell Road: A joint venture between the city and Kitsap County got this road, on the northern edge of Bremerton, repaved. Work was completed this week (pictured) though Bremerton crews still have to add markings to the roadway itself. The city paid $60,000 to the county to complete the effort, which came from the Transportation Benefit District.

Austin Drive: The city received about $700,000 in federal funding to repave the entirety of the  roadway, between Kitsap Way and Erland’s Point Road. An agreement was reached with the Navy to also repave a portion of Higbee Road, which goes to the Naval Hospital. Plus, in a nod to pedestrians crossing the road inside NAD Park, a “tabletop” intersection will be added that slows cars.

Work will begin Monday and last about two weeks.

Kitsap Lake Junction island: This sounds more exotic than it really is, but if you’ve ever tried to cross runway sized Kitsap Way near Harlow Drive, it can feel like a real-life game of Frogger. No more. A pedestrian “refuge” island means you can go halfway across and stop and a crosswalk will guide the way. The concrete work here is nearly complete but there’s one more component that remains: a “rapid flashing beacon” that will light up to alert motorists that pedestrians are crossing.

The poles and electronics won’t be installed until late December, City Engineer Tom Knuckey said. But in the meantime, most of the construction cones should go away.

The project, part of five total intersections being improved in Bremerton, is being paid for by $692,000 in federal funds.

Here’s what’s happening at the other four intersections those federal dollars are enhancing. In each case, construction cones should go away by early October but expect crews to return to erect poles and the electronic aspects at the end of 2016.

6th Street and High Avenue: The intersection is getting a “HAWK” signal that will allow pedestrians to stop traffic to stop Sixth at the push of a button.

1st Street and Charleston Boulevard: The crossing is getting a rapid flashing beacon like the one on Kitsap Way at Harlow Drive.

11th Street and High Avenue: Aside from the new concrete curbs, the intersection will get “countdown clocks” that inform pedestrians how long they have to cross.

11th and High.
11th and High.

Kitsap Way at 11th Street: The new concrete curbs are in, and the intersection will get “countdown clocks” that inform pedestrians how long they have to cross.

Tracyton Guardrail: City officials cannot seem to get a bid — at least yet — from a construction company to construct a $100,000 guardrail along Tracyton Beach Road. They’ve vowed to keep trying, and that construction would happen in the fall. “We just need to get it done,” Knuckey said. A young woman was killed there early this year.

Also: if you’re wondering about projects in wider Kitsap County, Sun Reporter Ed Friedrich has you covered here.

Last but not least, Lebo: One more quick note about Lebo Boulevard, which will be reconstructed with wide sidewalks, lighting and bike lanes in 2017. A community meeting will be held at 6 p.m.Oct. 11 at the Sheridan Community Center, 280 Lebo Boulevard. A $6 million state grant is funding the work.