A Bremerton summer school report card

Oliver Wendell Holmes, a former Supreme Court justice, was credited with saying, “The greatest thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in which direction we are moving.” I say he’s credited with it because I knew the quote, more or less, but had to search for its author online, and I’m not sure how much I trust the source. Nonetheless the messages is the basis of this blog post.

Clearly Bremerton has had its downs, even lately. There have been two knife attacks downtown, one that killed Sara Burke. The city’s budget is hurting and that doesn’t seem to be headed for any fixes quick. The police department had its, um, issues, the public works director hit the road after a one-way street change was a surprise to everyone including the mayor, and the old Lowe’s and K-Mart store buildings are sitting there not collecting B&O taxes and generally looking ugly.

All that said I have a friend who used to work downtown when Filippi’s was still open and will begin working downtown again sometime next year. He’s downright psyched about it. Part of that is he will trade a 90-mile commute for a nine-miler or so, but there is more. The place has changed, and shortly after he starts he will be able to walk to a nice movie theater after work.

Filippi’s is now a martini bar with food and it is open. There are more food options then there were years ago. Parking is still an unsolved issue and many of our commenters don’t like the city’s red-light cameras, but I can’t describe the joy I felt from longtime Bremerton residents for the show the city put on at the Brewfest on July 23. That it was a beautiful summer day helped a ton, but as one customer pointed out, downtown hadn’t looked so nice in ages.

The condos are selling, albeit at a moderate pace. The restaurants seem to be doing well. The parks in the city, downtown and elsewhere, are fantastic. Beyond downtown a WinCo stores is coming and the Union Hill neighborhood is challenging Manette for community cohesion. And speaking of Manette there is a new bridge coming, one that shouldn’t frighten passengers of wider cars.

I’m sure I have missed something.

It was last year that the Bremerton Patriot had a well written story questioning whether Bremerton really would ever come back. Some of the focus was on the Tim Ryan building at Sixth and Pacific. It was a worthwhile question to ask. Progress appeared stalled.

Last I heard, though, there are plans for a brew pub there. Down the street you can look at the stars.

Frankly, and maybe it’s the sunny day and the fact that I’m going to take another four days off work, but I think there might never have been more reason than there is now to believe that Bremerton just might pull this thing off. It’s not there yet. Ron Sher’s parking garage is a big question and it’s one I plan to pose when I come back next week.

I hope I’m right, because I sure would love to continue poking fun at Port Orchard. By the way, I drove through Port Orchard recently and was verifiably impressed with the French Quarter appearance in some parts. And someday I have to get over to Dragonfly.

I got more bullish on Bremerton today talking to Will Robinson at Elandan Gardens. Now, he’s an artist, so he’s biased, sure. But he’s got a lot of appreciation for Bremerton’s attention to art in its transformation. He made the inarguable comment that for someone not from a place to visit there has to be something unique. For locals, I’d say, there has to be something to do. For non-locals, there does too, and there has to be something unique to see.

There are some big ifs. The nation’s lowered credit rating could drive lending prices up, which could put a damper on Sher’s plans. That national economy plays a role, but I find it interesting that Bremerton and the rest of Kitsap County seems to have continued improving even as much of the rest of the nation has stalled.

I have not forgotten that I am not paid to be the city’s cheerleader, that I am more charged with being the watchdog, its critic, perhaps not the cynic. But a reporter can feel the wind blowing, too, and while that wind today still carries some leftover aroma of suburban neglect, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

Where Bremerton is today is a vast improvement over where it was. Where it is headed looks promising.

One thought on “A Bremerton summer school report card

  1. Bremerton will flourish again on a grand scale with a charming old vintage/modern look that so many folks find appealing – including me.
    Bremerton will boom beyond its heyday and the smart investor will invest while the prices are down.
    I’ve said so right along…and here and now saying it again.

    Bremerton will flourish in spite of that g—awful fish and fisherman. Geez…

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