Bremerton’s Priorities

Bremerton reporter Steve Gardner’s back in the saddle after a two-week vacation, so I guess I’d better get off his beat.

While Gardner was gone, I reported on the Bremerton city council’s selection of a contractor to build a parking garage at Park Avenue and Burwell Street, and their approval of a property transfer from parks that will allow a proposed improvement of the oft-snarled intersection of Warren Avenue and 11th St.

Port Orchard probably has a bad case of Bremerton envy, not only for having to share its intrepid reporter with its rival big brother across Sinclair Inlet, but for the fact that it, too, aspires to such great things.

Bremerton’s “garage” promises much more. The garage is part of a planned 50,000-square-foot development at the corner of Park Avenue and Burwell Street. The mostly underground garage will provide a “pad” for privately-funded retail space, affordable apartments and a multiplex movie theater that is predicted to boost the city’s economy and funnel new springs of retail sales tax into the state’s coffers. The selection of a contractor for the project represents a milestone in the nine years of planning it’s taken to get to this point.

Meanwhile. back in Port Orchard city officials are also aggressively hatching plans for a garage that’s so much more. The city plans a Town Center Revitalization Project that includes a parking garage, a new library, retail space and a public plaza. The parking garage, phase one of the project, is seen as the cornerstone of the campus. Preliminary cost estimates for the garage range from $19 to $24 million. In March, city officials were elated when Congressman Norm Dick Included $1 million in federal housing and urban development funds in his proposed 2012 allocations for the project. But allocations are a far cry from choosing a contractor. If memory serves me, the Town Center project developed out of city council plans for improved parking off the waterfront that started around 2005.

Likewise Bremerton’s transfer of property from parks to the public right-of-way paves the way, so to speak, for another project long on the city’s to-do list.

Port Orchard, too, has been working on its traffic bottleneck. The Tremont Street Corridor project is creeping forward like an SUV at rush hour. OK, that was literary hyperbole. City planners are moving the project through the pipeline to the best of their ability given the constraints of funding, permitting, right-of-way acquisition etc. Suffice it to say, it’s been a long time coming, and no doubt city officials will be elated when the first backhoe full of dirt is moved.

Take heart Port Orchard. Bremerton’s been at this urban redevelopment for some years now. Presumably, your turn will come.

The Bremerton City Council, at a meeting I attended recently, handed out a list of the council’s priorities, based on a survey of council members. Not surprisingly, public safety and fiscal stability rank high on the council’s list of concerns. The dead, alas, come in last place, with the city’s cemetary ranking at the bottom of the priority list.

Here’s the list of BremertonPriorities

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