Bremerton Boardwalk in Deep Water

The Suquamish Tribe does not want Bremerton to build the boardwalk the city is proposing to run between downtown and Evergreen Rotary Park.

The objection is based on the tribal officials’ contention that the walkway could impact its fishing abilities there and habitat near the shore.

A letter the tribe sent to the city (Download the Suquamish Letter.) indicates the tribe’s support for environmental cleanup near park property and the sewer line improvements the city had hoped to accomplish as part of the boardwalk work. No go on the boardwalk itself, though, the primary symbol of the public works project.

In researching the story I wanted to find out the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opinion of how Bremerton Public Works Director Phil Williams characterized the corps’ stance on tribal objections. He said he’d been told it was “absolute veto power.” It took a while for me to get clear on the corps’ answer, but from our story you can see how it eventually was settled.

Patricia Graesser, Seattle District Army Corps spokeswoman, said she wouldn’t describe the tribe’s opinion as “veto power,” but how she described the corps’ process appears to at least come close to it.

“If they (the tribes) issue an objection, then we would need resolution of that before we would issue a permit,” she said.

This represents the first real public hiccup for the proposed boardwalk project. Until now the idea had met favor here at home and in Olympia. It seems almost unimaginable that the project wouldn’t get done. And yet it might not. The corps could sit on the application until there’s buy-in from the tribe. Or it could get pressured politically to issue a ruling, even if it is a denial. Then the city would have to take it to the courts, and there’s no way of knowing how that would go down.

6 thoughts on “Bremerton Boardwalk in Deep Water

  1. Your article says: “Should the city apply again over the tribe’s objection, the corps will ask for documentation from the tribe to back up its claim if that evidence is not already on file in corps offices, Graesser said.”

    The letter from the tribe says they are willing to meet with the city.

    So, why don’t city officials meet with the tribe and ask the tribe to lay its evidence on the table?

    Saying it “could” impact their treaty rights is not the same as showing that it would.

  2. Before we build another disaster like the Big Dicks tunnel or the Silverdale Interchange, can we please fix the Manette Bridge?

  3. So why the delayed response to an event that’s been ‘on the books’ for quite a while now?

    With the “rules” for construction that currently exist, it’s amazing to me that ANYTHING gets built in this area.

    Challenges to construction/building are fine, but have the hootzpa to be up front about them rather than taking a stance of .. “oh wait, there may be a snail darter under that tree a spotted owl sat in 15 years ago, next to some creek that had a salmon in it once”.

    Get the tribes involved EARLY in the processes, if they’re up front enough to do so, so should some.. ‘resistance’.. occur, big $’s won’t be chased only to be smacked down at the last minute because of some whiney “but we didn’t get ours” situation.

    JimH

  4. This is incredibly disappointing news.
    Surely we need to protect accessibility to fishing areas and other means of livelihood for our nation’s first peoples but this objection by the tribes seems like a political game to me, rather “fishy” (pun intented). Firstly- Why did the tribes not raise this objection sooner? The boardwalk plan has been moving forward for years and surely there would have been multiple opportunities for the tribes to have a say. It seems quite implausible in this day and age of hyper-diligence in securing stakeholder buy-in, that the tribes were somehow overlooked in the planning process. Secondly, I raise the same question as Sharon, above. I live downtown Bremerton and spend enough time walking/running the Manette bridge, and kayaking the shoreline to see that this is area of water is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a popular fishing destination. I think the tribes should show evidence to support their case. Thirdly, the sewer upgrade and the environmental clean up of the park/shoreline on the Evergreen Park end of the boardwalk are reasons enough to go through with the boardwalk project, probably doing more for protecting fishing habitats for tribes then leaving these areas as they are. I would think the tribes would be eager to see such needed improvements.
    Sign me up to help fight this. The boardwalk is a superbly conceived plan and will make a tremendous addition for all peoples of Bremerton and Kitsap County.
    Erica Applewhite

  5. I don’t see much difference between the boardwalk design and the design used for the over the water facilities (Delta Pier, MSF, EHW) at Bangor Sub Base. They are both designed to parallel the shoreline so that migrating fish can travel along a shoreline without shadows – or at least that’s the reason that I was given for the Bangor design. I’ve never heard of a fish migration problem caused by the Bangor facilities and the Bremerton design seems to meet this criteria so that shouldn’t be a problem. As for increased pollution, that hasn’t been a problem at Bangor either. Sounds like a tribe ransom situation. Frank Reed, Poulsbo

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