Roger Gay gives a pop quiz

Roger Gay, a regular reader and commenter on the Kitsap Sun’s website, posted a comment on today’s story about the Port Orchard’s sales tax revenue boost due to annexations.

Roger begins:
“Why did Home Depot withdraw from building in Port Orchard? What is the expected impact from the apartment complex’s being built at the Sidney/Sedgwick intersection? What happened to the proposed roundabouts on Tremont and improvements to that corridor? Has the new waterside park facilities and trail in downtown Port Orchard increased downtown walk about traffic? When is the farmers market facility scheduled to open?

I felt like I was in eighth grade, walking into class and getting a pop quiz.

Roger went on to say that with recent improvements, Port Orchard actually seems to have it going on, whereas Bremerton … not so much. Roger, correct me if I’ve misstated your opinion.

Anyway, I got out my number two pencil and jumped in to answer Roger’s questions, which many of you may have as well:

Home Depot: Company sales projections didn’t justify moving forward, although HD has done most of the heavy lifting on the site, which is now set for any other big box store that wants to try its luck on the Bethel Corridor.

Tremont Street: Roundabouts were redesigned over a period of several years in part to better accommodate emergency vehicles. The city used federal grants for much of the $3.6 million it took for design and right-of-way acquisition. The city needs $15 million to build the gateway project. City Engineer Mark Dorsey will apply I believe in August to the state Transporaiton Improvement Board. The city will need to come up with an additional $2.7 for undergrounding utilities and other costs not covered by the grant. According to Dorsey, the fact the city used any federal money on Tremont means the clock is ticking on the project. There has been a tightening of rules regarding federal transportation money so that projects don’t just get started and lie the fallow. I’m guessing when and if the $15 m grant comes through, we at the Kitsap Sun will hear Dorsey’s whoop of excitement across Sinclair Inlet.

Apartment Complex: The Sidney, a 105-apartment complex at the corner of Sidney and Sedgewick, is open and leasing. In fact the council discussed the impact of the project at an April meeting. Rush Construction met all requirements for traffic and environmental impacts, Dorsey told the council. All of this was reviewed in detail and approved by the city’s hearing examiner several years ago, so if the council had any concerns about the size of the project or its impact on the surrounding area, the horse is out of that barn, Dorsey in essence said. The council agreed to look carefully at urban density regulations within the city the next time its comprehensive plan comes up for review. City planners are already working on population estimates to get ready for that process.

Port Orchard Market: In June contractors working on the building (which is actually two or three buildings spliced together) found a wall that they weren’t expecting, meaning they had to do a redesign of the facade. That required going back to the city for another permit, which I have heard was recently issued. Don Ryan, who is heading up the project, was reluctant to say exactly when the market will open so as not to disappoint, but the project is not dead, he said.

Port Orchard Marina Park: Based on my general observations (and especially the night of the July 4th fireworks) people are loving the park expansion, with its viewing platform, pedestrian path and interactive mural. Unfortunately, the new features attracted vandals, but POPD is on it.

Oh, and BTW, the newly renovated DeKalb Pier is to open soon, and it looks really classy.

As for cooperation between Port Orchard and Bremerton, there has been considerable talk and some action on that front. The cities and the Port of Bremerton partnered on expanded summer hours for the foot ferry between the two towns.

If you count the recent opening of the South Kitsap Skatepark, you might say, yes, there is a sense of momentum right now in good old PO/South Kitsap. I can say that city and port generated projects are the result of years of government wheels grinding slowly.

Chris Henry, reporter

Here’s a video of the skatepark opening:

4 thoughts on “Roger Gay gives a pop quiz

  1. Great job answering Roger’s question. I knew of most but the roundabout progress information in new to me and I found it very enlightening. Thanks Chris.

  2. “….there is a sense of momentum”

    I’d say it more of an explosive environment. Both cities have issues with regard to the management of children and young adults. Explosive, because it took less than 90 days from opening, for one of these ding dongs to blow up a portable toilet with a mortar. The vandalism is on par with the recent years problems in Bremerton. Vandalism of large storefront windows and the arson of a local furniture store. The property crime rates are at the highest rates in Bremerton and South Kitsap. They also spend the most per pupil in the public schools, and PO is facing a possible strike by the teachers, in August.

    As for the Home Depot mess, that was a business decision. But let’s be honest, rather than being politically correct. That school levy didn’t help, along with the loss of 500 students in the district. Factoring that the population is older, on a fixed income, that’s going to affect the profit margins. There are stores in Gig Harbor and Silverdale.

    Please note that there isn’t a a large chain home improvement store in Bremerton either.

    Nearly 70% of downtown Bremerton retail space is vacant. List the businesses and eateries that have closed in the last two years alone.

    The ONLY time there is a unified response into tackling an issue, is when a backpack is left unattended at the ferry terminal.

  3. Thanks Chris for the answers. The questions were a lead into the rest of the blog comment on how it seems Port Orchard is in the fore front of getting things done. Port Orchard is not perfect by any means, it still has empty store fronts and buildings in need of repair and replacement. The small pub going in downtown and the farmers market center will help greatly. The Port Orchard Marina consistently has a high occupancy rate while the Bremerton Marina just broke 50% for the first time.

    The limited cooperation between the cities on the foot ferry is a carry over from last year. If I remember correctly, Bremerton wanted to drop Sunday and increase runs on Friday and Saturday nights this year. I wonder how that has worked out for passenger counts/costs so far?

    The real question overall is why? Why is Port Orchard seemingly ahead? Chris stated: ” I can say that city and port generated projects are the result of years of government wheels grinding slowly.” So the results Port Orchards is having now is due to past mayors and city council in Port Orchard who paved the way? Include significant investment by the Port of Bremerton and its taxpayers in both cities.

    With elections coming up on both sides of the water, voters should look at what has been and is being done to both cities and who is responsible. Who is accomplishing what needs to be done and who is a master at smoke and mirrors? Ask questions and get involved in your city and who knows what may await residents in a few years of additional government wheel grinding.

    Roger Gay
    South Kitsap

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