Q&A on Bremerton Boardwalk Issue

I thought I’d take a moment to provide at least some quick answers to a few of the questions that appeared following the story and the first blog entry on this matter.

Q: I sure do not remember ever seeing any tribal fisherman fishing there , and I have lived here for over 40 years.

A: I can’t answer whether tribal members have ever fished there, but the tribe does have the right to do so as part of its “usual and accustomed” fishing area. Leonard Forsman spoke of the tribe’s “future rights” in his conversation with me. It may be a lame example, but it’s similar to me having the right to drive on roads in Mississippi. You can’t take away that right from me solely because I’ve never been there.

The proposed Suquamish DockQ: Hey Steve, It would have been nice if you mentioned the 570 foot dock the tribe is building that is in the middle of a much larger fish run than that of the Bremerton dock.

A: I believe the actual length of the Suquamish dock is 526 feet. I did discuss it with the city and with the tribe and the dock discussion will be part of a later story. However, I still need to educate myself more about it, because I’m not convinced that it’s a fair criticism of the tribe. The boardwalk is six times as long and runs parallel to the shoreline. Plus, it’s a brand new feature, whereas the dock has been explained to me as replacing an old unusable 400-foot pier. On the other hand, I don’t think the 526-feet is the extent of the new dock and I’m not sure the old pier had near the recent impact the new dock will have. That’s why I’ve said I need to educate myself more on the dock before addressing it at length in a story. It’s worth bringing up generally.

Q: I am just trying to understand how it makes sense to put a sewer line OVER the water?

A: This information was clarified in the story to reflect more accurately that the sewer line would still run along the shoreline, but the boardwalk would have offshoots that would allow Public Works crews to access the sewer line.

Q: Bremerton should have thought through their project before it got to this stage. That means consultations with other agencies including tribes.

A: This was addressed in another blog entry that included Forsman’s letter. It’s clear to me that this is an important issue to people on both sides, because people on both sides have complained to me about it. Because the information wasn’t included in the story, some have concluded that the tribe only recently raised its objections. The tribe and the city were in conversations about this, and I get this from both camps, for about two years. The written objection was penned earlier this year, but Forsman said the city knew about the objections at least a year ago. I thought that including the information about some of the proposals the city had made to solve the tribe’s issues would make it clear that this is not new to those involved, but it’s clear now I should have spelled that out more.

Q: Why has no one asked where the City of Bremerton got the million plus dollars to spend on planning the boardwalk?

A: The story included, “Williams said the city estimates the cost to be around $24.6 million, of which the city has already raised about $14.3 million from property sales and state grants.” I believe there has been other city funds applied. Further in the question though the writer asks, “How can the City justify having already spent this much of YOUR tax dollars if the boardwalk is not going to get approved?” Well, the easy answer is the city assumed it could create a project that would get approved. Sometimes governments design things that don’t pan out. Zoning changes get nixed in court sometimes. That costs taxpayers money, too, but generally it’s taxpayers who file suit. Additionally, this project isn’t dead yet.

Q: No one seems to have pointed out another obvious question- why didn’t the tribe object to the bremerton marina on the same grounds???

A: The Port of Bremerton did have to work with the tribe on the marina and paid some money and built some elements based on concerns. Many times there are offsite remedies provided in response to proposals. The city and the tribe have to find what those could be, and might never find a common ground. If not, the city could apply, presumably get denied, then appeal.

3 thoughts on “Q&A on Bremerton Boardwalk Issue

  1. Hi Mr. Gardner,
    Thanks for your thoughtful analysis. I thought that the analogy you provided about having the rights to drive in Mississippi were somewhat incomplete. It may be more describe it this way:

    It’s similar to me having the right to drive on roads in Mississippi. Even though I’ve never been to Mississippi, you can’t take away my right to decide if an overpass should be built on some particular road because I’m concerned it may interfere with the migratory patterns of birds.

    I think this would more completely describe the situation.

  2. Hey Steven,

    Thanks for the additional information and follow-up answers to some posted questions. It is unfortunate that because of software limitations, this blog post will not be “garner”ing (pun intended) much attention or posting action as long as it is competing with an active related story on the home page where comment posts are instant all 114 of them as of now. It’s a real shame.

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