I wrote an article for Kitsap Sun Sunday on Kitsap Food Co-op’s announcement of it’s future location at the old East High School campus in Bremerton, and here I wanted to offer a few more details about the project and the post-announcement conversation I had with board president Laura Moynihan.
One of the most frequent questions board members have heard in the past couple years is where the co-op would be, a question that has been difficult to answer.
From my understanding of the co-op’s situation, it’s been a sort of chicken and egg dilemma for the co-op: they need enough members and capital (which comes, in part from membership fees) to secure a location, but some people are hesitant to put a $200 fee on the line before they knew where it would go and how viable this project would be.
Conceivably, the announcement of a location gives the group an additional selling point for membership.
“Were really lucky to name a location that doesn’t require an infusion of capital,” Moynihan said.
In addition, the group has drawn some influential backers, namely Mayor Patty Lent, local architect Steve Rice, who has helped the Co-op look at potential sites, and members of the Boys & Girls club (the club’s director of special projects Stacy Dore’ was at Sunday’s meeting).
The East Bremerton campus has been conceptualized as a center for youth wellness issues. The youth wellness center, which would offer classes on nutrition and cooking and exercise, was the brainchild of former Mayor Cary Bozeman (though originally slated for Bay Vista, formerly known as Westpark). A design created by world-renowned and Bremerton-raised architect Steven Holl has three wings, one for health-monitoring (which may now include a dental center), one for cooking and gardening, and one for play.
There will be a lot of money to raise both for the Co-op and other players on the East Bremerton campus. The Co-op is expected to cost $3 million to open. The Boys and Girls Club estimates the cost of it’s facility at $4.3 million, and the wellness center is estimated at $14 million.
“This campus makes everybody more visible,” Rice said at the meeting.
“We’re all stronger as one thing together,” he added.
Though so much is tentative, Moynihan envisions partnering with the schools and/or Boys & Girls Club on a demonstration garden, which was part of the campus’ original concepts.
The plan also included a year-round farmers market (which still is in dream-phase in Kitsap), which Moynihan said could enhance the visibility of the Co-op, and could possibly mean another partnership with the Co-op, which other area co-ops have done, Moynihan said.
One other thing of note is that this would put the co-op nearly next door to an Albertson’s. That could be an awful lot of grocer competition in one place, but Moynihan said it also could be an asset, allowing people to hop over for items they can’t find at the co-op.
On the subject of partnerships, Moynihan also said that the Co-op, when opened, wants to talk with the school district or area restaurants about procuring food for them.
The Co-op store itself has originally been planned as a 10,000 square-foot facility, with a 1920s grange-style look. Included inside may be a cafe.
The guidelines for what products will be sold still has to be determined by members. The overall philosophy, though, will put priority on purchasing foods grown and made in Kitsap then working out from there.
As Co-op vice president Kristina Kruzan said at Sunday’s meeting, “First we have to have a co-op before we know what we’re going to have in it.”
As part of Sunday’s presentation, a prepared video with words of encouragement from Lent and Bremerton School District Superintendent Flip Herndon also included some snapshots of the building and early conceptual sketches for the store: