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.