Category Archives: Wheaton Way

Once-dying Wheaton Way ‘a lot better than it was,’ councilwoman says

Leslie Daugs in front of the new, 160-unit apartment development along Wheaton Way.
Leslie Daugs in front of the new, 160-unit apartment development along Wheaton Way.

Five years ago, Bremerton City Councilwoman Leslie Daugs took on a 16-year incumbent with a central issue in mind: stopping Wheaton Way’s “slow death.”

I watched her debate Cecil McConnell, the late longtime councilman, at the Cloverleaf off Hollis Street. The bar and grill overlooked a vacant former Kmart, an empty Albertson’s — which moved down the road — and a recently vacated Lowe’s, which headed north outside city limits. Daugs felt passionate about doing something about it.

“It was dying,” Daugs told me in an interview a few weeks ago, “And I wanted to make sure we weren’t going to continue to die.”

Last one to leave, please turn the lights out.
Last one to leave, please turn the lights out.

Daugs won the seat in fall of 2011. She believes the beleaguered corridor has indeed improved since she’s been in office.

“Baby steps,” she said. “It’s a lot better than it was.”

The biggest change on her watch was the repeal of the Wheaton-Riddell subarea plan, which mandated that developers make pedestrian-friendly streetscapes along the road. That proved a turnoff to almost all business. After the plan fell, Fitness Evolution moved into one of those empty buildings.

The city’s planning commission and City Council also loosened rules on drive thrus, and within a year or so, McDonald’s, Kitsap Bank and a new Starbucks opened. Shari’s was also remodeled.

She’s applauded other changes as well — the Boys and Girls Club opening at the site of the Old East High School, the new roof for the old gym there and the school district’s plans to tear down the dilapidated school. She’s a fan of the new Super Saver grocery store and Henery Hardware, too.

She was not pleased that her fellow council members would not allow a used car dealership on a lot near Wheaton’s intersection with Sylvan Way. Daugs believes that city hall should not pretend Wheaton Way is something other than auto-centric. “It’s a big highway,” and should be treated as such, she told me.

A stronger economy has no doubt benefited Wheaton Way in the years she’s been on Council. I interviewed Daugs at the site of a 160-unit apartment complex, where a Kitsap Transit transfer station and park and ride will also be built, too. Nearby, a new day care is about to open as well.

She’s hoping the pendulum continues to swing in a positive direction.

“Wheaton Way is an area that’s definitely in need in new growth,” she said. “And whether it be apartments or businesses, we can always use that.”

What’s your take? Do you believe that the economic climate along Wheaton Way has improved?

New roof on the old gym.
New roof on the old gym.

Lower Wheaton Way, what are you sinking about?

Photo by Tad Sooter.
Photo by Tad Sooter.

Think you’ve heard the last of the Lower Wheaton Way project

Sink again.

On Saturday night, a mysterious void opened up on the newly paved street, near its intersection with Winfield Avenue. City public works crews have since been able to patch the sinkhole, but have not been able to explain why it happened.

City engineer Tom Knuckey told me that crews sent video cameras into sewer and stormwater lines under the street before the project started and after the sinkhole emerged. While a storm drain was replaced about 10 feet from the sinkhole early on in the project, no other problems showed up with the utilities there, he said.

“We had no indication there were voids below the pavement, and the contractor had no way of knowing,” Knuckey told me.

That means the city will have to pay and patch up the work on a brand new street. Knuckey’s best guess is that, given the road’s age — it began as a state highway circa 1930 — there’s many layers of pavement underneath and more of the stuff was just laid over the top in the current $3.4 million project. Plus, the compacting of the new pavement, which uses those massive road rollers, may have knocked something loose.

“It puts a lot of energy into the ground,” Knuckey said.

Sometimes such holes appear when an old, rotting stump deteriorates in the ground, creating a void. Knuckey can only speculate, but that’s a possibility.

In the next few weeks, crews will tear up the temporary patch and dig down in an effort to find the cause. If they cannot, they’ll fill it up with road and pave it over.

Perhaps this just isn’t that big of a deal to begin with, and we should be happy just to have a rare new street in Bremerton. One of my editors, who happens to live on the west side of town, was nonplussed.

“You call it a sinkhole,” he told me. “We call it a pothole.”

IN PHOTOS: Story Walk on Wheaton Way

Photo by Dora Henderson
Photo by Laura Henderson of the beginning of our walk.

David Wheaton was a Canadian working in Portland when he came to Bremerton to be the superintendent on the Manette Bridge project. It was 1928 and Wheaton, a partner in the Union Bridge Company, would end up spending the rest of his life here, overseeing projects like Eastpark, Casad Dam and the Warren Avenue Bridge.*

To me, history is most importantly about people and the amazing things they do, so I chose to begin our latest monthly Story Walk with a few words about him. At least 35 of you came to walk Saturday the road named for him, Wheaton Way, along the newly remade stretch. We traversed the new, almost mile-long 10-foot sidewalk and had some good discussions about the road’s past, present and future.

Mark M
Photo by Mark Alan Moshay at the midpoint.

We only got rained on one time, while we visited the site of the now deceased Maple Leaf Tavern — proof positive that there’s really no way to stay dry anywhere near that property, even when the bar is long gone.

I hope the experience was fruitful for everyone. I’m still working out the kinks for next month, but I hope you will join us in May for the next one. Watch this blog for details as I know them.

*History courtesy of the great history book “Manette Pioneering.”

Links to all of our Story Walks:

The new Lower Wheaton Way

Washington Avenue, past and present

The meandering Madrona Forest

Redwood Rendezvous in West Bremerton

Fourth Street’s Economic Divide

Jim S
Photo by Jim Schmidt at the end.

Come walk the new Wheaton Way with me

Little known fact: there’s actually no such thing as “Lower,” or even “Old” Wheaton Way. It’s just a title we Bremerton residents use to distinguish a meandering little thoroughfare from the much larger commercial corridor nearby.

Roots of the road date back to the 1920s. Once lined with popular spots like the Maple Leaf Tavern and the hopping Bay Bowl, it became an oddly wide street with only a few businesses left (the Bay Bowl, I should add, is now home to a Thai restaurant).


But “Lower” Wheaton Way, as it became when the Warren Avenue Bridge was built, was just reconstructed, adding wide sidewalks, bike lanes, street lamps and a new surface.

At noon on Saturday, I invite you to come out and walk this nearly mile-long stretch of revamped roadway. We’ll tell tales of its history, discuss its transformation and contemplate its future.

We’ll meet at Whitey Domstad Park, the little green space next to the Manette Bridge roundabout and just above the Boat Shed restaurant.

And speaking of local merchants, the Boat Shed and FOUND in Manette have agreed to offer 10 percent off to those who go on the Story Walk, and The Weekender on East 11th will take 15 percent off an item that day following the walk.

This is the fourth story walk of the year. Here’s links to our previous walks:

Washington Avenue, past and present

The meandering Madrona Forest

Redwood Rendezvous in West Bremerton

Fourth Street’s Economic Divide



The tide is high but we’re holding on


The tides have been quite high these past few days, surpassing 13 feet on a few occasions. Here’s a few photos around the Port Washington Narrows in Bremerton from this morning, near the high mark about 8 a.m.

For a couple schedule, go here.

The tide should subside a bit in the next couple of weeks. But believe it or not, it will surge again later this month. The tide will actually be the highest on Christmas Day — slated for a 13.76.

If you have photos of the high tide, don’t hesitate to send them my way to post.
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VIDEO: Curbs coming in on Lower Wheaton Way

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Crews poured the first curbs as part of Bremerton’s $3.4 million reconstruction of Lower Wheaton Way Tuesday. 

It’s a milestone for the project, which will add wide sidewalks, bike lanes and better lighting to an approximately one mile stretch of road spanning Bremerton’s bridges.

The project is slated to be completed in the fall.

Kitsap Bank comes down on Wheaton Way

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The old Kitsap Bank comes down. Photos by Shannon Childs.

We’ve seen a few demolitions around Bremerton lately, the latest being the destruction Monday of the old Kitsap Bank along Wheaton Way. 

The branch, built in 1961, was Kitsap Bank’s first outside its Port Orchard headquarters. It has been reduced to rubble, adjacent to the bank’s new location at Wheaton and Sylvan Way.

Coffee drinkers rejoice: the new bank will be connected to a new Starbucks.

The long-deteriorating Wheaton Way corridor is starting to see signs of new life. McDonalds is nearly done with a rebuild at its same location (not far from Kitsap Bank) and the Bremerton Teen Center is just down the street at the site of the old East High School.

The new bank is slated to open Aug. 1.

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Thai bowl: Serving up Thai at the Bay Bowl in Bremerton


In Thailand, the word Rimnam translates to “waterfront,” a logical name for the Bremerton restaurant founded in 2012 near the banks of the Port Washington Narrows in Manette. 

But when things didn’t work out in their initial location, Rimnam owner Fang Tuckawarut searched for a new home. She found one just up Lower Wheaton Way — luckily, a spot also nearby the waterfront.

So far, it’s a hit. Rimnam’s opening day inside the now defunct Bay Bowl was their busiest ever, surpassing all others inside the restaurant’s former location in Manette proper.

All come for the food. But some are nostalgic for the brick-lined building. After all, this was a home to bowlers for some 50 years.

“Some people say, ‘I can’t believe you turned the Bay Bowl into a restaurant,'” she said.

She credits Chris Campana, owner of the Bay Bowl, as having been a strong supporter of the move. Campana, who also owns the Italian restaurant of the same name in Poulsbo, has for several years tried to woo tenants inside. With Rimnam, he’s added two, having rented out the former bowling alley space to Delphinus, a nearby engineering firm, which stores equipment there.

There’s still a swanky martini bar in its upstairs that could open up if an interested tenant emerges.

Regardless, Rimnam’s been hopping. The place seats 45, and Tuckawarut has already hired two cooks and three servers, and is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. most days for lunch and 5 to 8:30 p.m. most everyday for dinner. The restaurant does takeout and Tuckawarut plans to soon start a delivery service, she said.

Rimnam was only open 11 months in its old location on East 11th Street. She blames a lack of traffic in the area as a cause, and one of the reasons she believes she’ll succeed this time around. There’s no shortage of cars going by the Bay Bowl, in an area situated in close proximity to Bremerton’s hospital district.

The new location is also bigger, at 1,200 square feet — 400 more, including a large round table in the back of the restaurant that has been popular thus far with big groups. The place is also filled with artifacts from Tuckawarut’s native Thailand.

In the summertime, Tuckawarut plans to put a patio out front. The Lower Wheaton Way street improvement project will not only lay down a new road before her business, it will put a 10-foot wide sidewalk right up to her door, helping improve the atmosphere.

The location might be different but the food is largely the same, with traditional Thai dishes spread out throughout the menu, along with some signature dishes like raspberry phad Thai, avocado green curry and drunken spaghetti.

The followup: Those car tab fees you pay? Some will go for Old Wheaton Way


As a Bremerton resident who just renewed my car tabs, I was reminded that we fork over an extra $20 each year to help maintain Bremerton’s roads.

And what is that extra Andrew Jackson going to buy in Bremerton, you ask?

The fund — which generates around $350,000 a year — goes toward street upkeep. The city’s street department seals in cracks, tears out craggily sections of roadway and patches them, and utilizes other quick fixes aimed at extending a road’s life.

But at a Feb. 5 meeting of the Transportation Benefit District (TBD) board — which is really just the Bremerton City Council, but with a fancy title that authorizes them to spend the car tab money — its members authorized spending $250,000 for the Old Wheaton Way project.

The project, which will put in a new street and sidewalks along Old Wheaton from Lebo Boulevard to the Manette Bridge, doesn’t have enough existing funds for completion. Most of the funding is coming from a $1.4 million state grant. The TBD money gets the city closer to installing all of the project’s components, including street lighting, according to Bremerton Public Works Director Chal Martin.

The TBD board approved a total $750,000 tab for road projects, in excess of what it collects per year but a doable amount because of reserves the TBD fund had built up in its first year and a half of existence.

I’ll have a more detailed story in the Kitsap Sun in the coming days. In the meantime, drop a line and let me know what you think of the car tab fee and what it’s spent on.

Kitsap Bank, Starbucks teaming up: Get your dough, cup of joe, and go

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Starbucks will join Kitsap Bank’s development at the corner of Wheaton Way and Sylvan Way, we reported today in the Kitsap Sun. (“Bank plans dough, joe, go,” our fine headline writers penned.)

Here are some renderings of what the two businesses will look like there. It’s been a rough few years for Wheaton Way, and city and bank leaders are hoping the revamp is the breath of fresh air that can spur other redevelopment there.

Bremerton’s planning commission loosened drive thru standards that were approved by the City Council, paving the way (no pun intended) for the project, as was brought up on my Facebook page yesterday.

What do you think the new development, slated to open Aug. 1, will do for the battered corridor?