Creating a process in which port projects get fully vetted

By Rachel Pritchett, reporter

It’s been said here and there during Port of Bremerton meetings that the Bremerton Marina might not have been built had the project proposal been more fully vetted.

And back when Cary Bozeman first came on board as CEO, it seemed like major new projects were appearing out of nowhere in front of commissioners, only to disappear just as quickly (a big hangar, sports fields, a incubator building, etc.).

Roger Zabinski, the port commission’s newest member and a scientist who’s very methodical and probably a bit of a wonk, presented a draft proposal Tuesday that would ensure projects get laid out on the table and examined from all sides — public included.

His two colleagues on the commission, Bill Mahan and Larry Stokes, appeared to like Zabinski’s proposal very much, as did much of the port’s senior staff. Tim Thomson, director of real estate and industrial park development, said the staff “embraces this approach.”

His plan, according to Zabinski, would go a long way toward rebuilding trust with the public, still angry over the $34 million marina that cost them lots on their property taxes and which still isn’t being used anywhere near capacity.

Zabinski is proposing a fluid project wish list with the most desired ones at the top. Project ideas could come from commissioners, staff or community members.

The projects would undergo a thorough vetting process that would include the public. Vetting would determine if a project fits with the port’s mission. It would look at cost and funding sources, and a timeline. And — this is a biggie for the public — the process also would look at return on investment.

Commissioners would make the final determination of what gets built and what doesn’t.

Mahan said to Zabinski, “You’ve brought something to us that probably should have been brought to us a long time ago.” He suggested the process only be applied just to major projects.

With that, the commission sent Zabinski’s proposal for some sane, transparent and measured consideration of big projects to staff members. They’ll translate it into a cut-and-dried process that, if adopted, will forever change the way the port goes forth with projects.

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