PO’s Plans to Become an Urban Center Would be Selling “Your Political Soul to the Devil,” KAPO REP Says

Funding for which the city would become eligible come with to many “strings,” critics say.
By Chris Henry
chenry@kitsapsun.com
PORT ORCHARD
Members of the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners and other community members on Tuesday raised a chorus of warning against a proposal by the City of Port Orchard to seek designation as an Urban Growth Center through the Puget Sound Regional Council.
Port Orchard would seek the designation as part of its yet-to-be-approved comprehensive plan update, set to come before the council Dec. 22.
Becoming an urban growth center would entitle the city to a first crack at state and federal funding for transportation and infrastructure overseen by the PSRC, said Development Director James Weaver at a public hearing on the comp plan update. The change in status would put Port Orchard in a league with Bremerton and Silverdale when it comes to accessing certain transportation funds, he said.
The city could still apply for other federal and state funds and grants even if it does not become an urban growth center. The process is highly competitive and would take about three years, Weaver said. The Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council would have to give its blessing before the matter would move on to the PSRC.
Port Orchard is eligible to apply for the designation since its population grew to more than 10,000 in 2009. Annexations, including the McCormick Woods development, raised the population from 8,420 to 10,836.
As part of its comp plan update, the city shows future plans to develop its downtown area as a transportation hub. Key to this is construction of a parking garage and retail complex known as the Port Orchard Town Center Revitalization Project . The estimated cost of the project is $36.6 million.
The city will likely proceed with the transportation hub plan, even if it doesn’t become an urban growth center, but funding administered through the PSRC represents a significant source of money for this and other capital projects on Port Orchard’s horizon.
But those who testified about the proposal said seeking the title of urban growth center would make the city beholden to the PSRC, a regional body made up of representatives from a four-county area, including King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. Critics cited goals of the PSRC’s Vision 2040 as having the potential to dictate quality of life in South Kitsap.
“Make no mistake,” said KAPO’s Executive Director Vivian Henderson. “Once you get tangled up in the strings attached to PSRC grants, you have sold your political soul to the devil.”
“I would suggest you resist this siren song and, instead, consider helping Kitsap leave the PSRC in 2012,” said Silverdale resident and KAPO member Bob Benze.
“To me the PSRC is trying to change what our community is all about,” said Port Orchard resident Gerry Harmon. “If you don’t jump through their hoops, you’re not going to get the money. Everything we do will be to get those funds. Those funds will only come when we are running through those hoops.”
Mayor Lary Coppola asked Weaver to clarify requirements of being an urban growth center. Weaver said, as far as Port Orchard’s comp plan is concerned, the PSRC would be able to comment on it, as they have in the past. But the designation would give the PSRC no additional authority to dictate details of comp plan regulations.
After the meeting, Coppola, who has written blog posts critical of Vision 2040, said, “I heard all the people who spoke about it (the proposal) loud and clear last night, and I understand their fear, but this is a council decision. This is not my decision, and I think there’s pros and cons on both sides of it.”

One thought on “PO’s Plans to Become an Urban Center Would be Selling “Your Political Soul to the Devil,” KAPO REP Says

  1. I hope the city council really looks at the PSRC and reads and understands the fine print in what they have published. Include in that review what the PSRC has done for Kitsap County. What has been Kitsap Counties benefit from belonging to the PSRC?
    It is good that the council is looking to the future as at some point the city of Port Orchard will include all of South Kitsap. It is only a matter of time before Bremerton or Port Orchard annex’s everything south of Gorst. Living west of Hywy 16, I look forward to seeing which city will annex our area.
    I think the goal of the PSRC is to ensure that Kitsap County loses its rural heritage and becomes another money source for the I-5 corridor. Between PSRC and the Empire of Kitsap Transit we will become nothing but a urban cement wasteland with stacks of condos and apartments for the masses to live in while commuting to Seattle and Tacoma to work via expensive foot ferries, toll roads and toll bridges. The PSRC and the Empire of Kitsap Transit will ensure we have to pay to leave or travel in Kitsap County. The eventual cost will make our present County road taxes and bridge toll look like a bargain at WalMart.
    Hopefully the Port Orchard City Council will look this gift horse in the mouth very carefully.
    Roger Gay
    South Kitsap

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