Coppola Chafing at, Adjusting to the “Glacial” Pace of Government

Update 2/15: I got this e-mail from Larry Coppola this evening:
I was somewhat disappointed that you didn’t mention the fact that I said I wanted to Master Plan the Sedgwick-Sidney area, before too much more development occurs. As I pointed out, Walgreen’s is already under construction, Target has an option on some property, several other retailers are actively looking, and that MultiCare has plans to expand its presence there.

But I also added that since this is going to happen on my watch, I believe Master Planning that area — which is going to become the new economic center of the City — is absolutely essential so it didn’t end up like Silverdale. I believe that’s an important element that shouldn’t have been left out of the story.

Lary Coppola, Port Orchard’s new mayor, spoke bluntly today at the Port Orchard Chamber of Commerce luncheon about the learning curve he’s experienced going from the private sector into the world of local government.
Coppola, owner of West Sound Publishing and publisher of the Kitsap Business Journal, has sat on government boards, including the county’s planning commission, but when it comes to getting business done, he admitted, he’s been used to doing things Lary’s way.
“One of the biggest frustrations has been the glacial pace of government,” he said. “I’m getting used to it. I don’t like it, but I’m getting used to it.”
Public process on the appointment of former Kitsap County senior planner James Weaver to them post of city Director of Development, for example, took a whole month, Coppola groused. Weaver replaced City Planner JoAnne Long-Woods, who retired without comment within a month of Coppola’s installation.
For Coppola there have been other adjustments.
“For the first month, I was drinking out of a fire hose, it seemed,” he said. “It seemed like everyone who had ever been told ‘no’ was standing in line and everyone who had ever been told ‘maybe” was standing behind them.”
Now the fire hose has subsided to “a trickle” as he’s gotten a handle on the job.
City Hall staff have been adjusting, too. Under Coppola’s administration, he said, the city will have a greater focus on customer service.
“I come from the private sector, where customer service is job one,” he said. “That’s the way it’s going to be, and anyone who doesn’t subscribe to that philosophy had better be polishing their resume.”
Coppola actually went to Staples and cleaned out their supply of “Easy” buttons, distributing them among city staff.
Coppola noted that city council meetings have been moved to Tuesdays in order not to conflict with the county’s new Monday evening schedule, and he said he’s been making good on his goal to keep council meetings down to around two hours instead of three-plus, as it has been in the past. The addition of a hearing examiner to preview complex land use issues and bimonthly study sessions for the council have helped increase the efficiency of city government, he said.
Coppola also praised the city council, which includes three new members, saying, “You have elected a great group of people. He said council members will be using their areas of expertise to help the city make improvements. For example, Councilman Fred Chang, who works in computer technology industry, will be updating the city’s Web site.
Coppola went on to give a state-of-the-city address, listing items on Port Orchard’s agenda within the next year and beyond.
Comprehensive Plan: One of Weaver’s main jobs will be to update the city’s comprehensive plan, without which Port Orchard is currently ineligible for numerous grants that could be used for city projects, Coppola said. The city council on Tuesday approved a contract with Kathleen Byrne-Barrantes of Grant-Solutions, Poulsbo, who has done extensive grant writing for the county.
Bethel Sinkhole: Federal and state funds will cover most of the cost of repairing the aging pipe that resulted in the sinkhole on Bethel Ave., Coppola said. The Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover 75 percent of the cost; state emergency funds will cover 12.5 percent and the city will be responsible for 12.5 percent. The city council on Tuesday awarded a contract to West Sound Engineering for “up to $80,000.” (Note added 2/15: That represents the city’s portion plus additional funds to reroute a 24-inch main.) Repairs should start in April and be completed in a couple of months.
Sedgwick and Sidney Interchange: Expect to see major development at this once sleepy intersection. Target has put an option on some property there, said Coppola. Walgreens and Multi-Care also have plans to build.
Downtown Development: Coppola is forming a task force to attract new businesses to the area. But, he said, he will be selective. The former Mako’s bar, which saw a disproportionate share of 911 calls, has been sold. Coppola said he wrote the new owners welcoming them, but he also fired a shot across their bow, saying if they can’t keep things under control, he will advocate to have their liquor license suspended.

6 thoughts on “Coppola Chafing at, Adjusting to the “Glacial” Pace of Government

  1. So, are you saying that Target, Walgreens and Multi-care hope to build on that corner of Sedgwick and Sidney, or just Target. Walgreens is already on the corner of Sedgwick and Bethel, are you suggesting they hope to move?

    This is disappointing. What is wrong with that sleepy and very pretty residential corner staying that way?

    I couldn’t have voted for Lary, I don’t live in the City, but I am disappointed in this news. Sounds ugly.

  2. It is troublesome to hear an elected official use such “my way or the highway” language, the last person to use this verbiage has been in office for eight years and…well it hasn’t gone well.

    As for people who don’t toe the line “polishing their resumes”, I didn’t realize the mayor of any town had the ultimate authority to hire and fire at will. Doesn’t sound very democratic, I think we have a city council for a reason, correct?

  3. I promised Lary Coppola that I would let you know that my geography was off. I was confusing Sedgwick and Sidney with Sidney and Lund. So, it isn’t a pretty, residential corner after all, just the corner that Albertson’s and the gas stations are on. So, that is where Target will be going. OK. Makes sense. Many pardons.

  4. Chris,

    Regarding your update to this story: if I remember correctly, the city limits are on the other side of Highway 16, so I don’t get it. Why is the Mayor trying to Master Plan an intersection over which he has no jurisdiction?

  5. Elliott – I just called PO City Engineer Maher Abed to confirm that the intersection is, and has been “for some time” inside city limits. Maher wasn’t sure when it was annexed. Part of the master plan will include a traffic study, he said.

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