Monthly Archives: June 2007

A Glimpse of History

Somewhere along the way I got the idea that Bellevue developer Ron Sher planned to maintain some of the look of the former J.C. Penney building that’s now a parking garage downtown.

He corrected me by saying, “I love the look of the J.C. Penney building,” then laughing as I wrote down his comment.

In reality, he wants to maintain some element that will offer a glimpse at the city’s past, but don’t expect the building to much resemble what’s there now.

Ron Sher, a Bellevue developer who is in the process of buying the site from the Bremer Trust, said he hopes to redevelop the site to maintain evidence of a historical transition, but made it clear he’s no fan of the site’s current look.

“It’s not like the history is lost, but it won’t look like the J.C. Penney building or I will have failed,” he said of his vision for the site Tuesday following a Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce lunch gathering at McCloud’s restaurant on Perry Avenue.

All this, of course, is predicated on Sher and the Bremer Trust coming to a sales agreement on the building.

Parking will be down by about a quarter. There is not always pressure to find a spot downtown, but if Bremerton’s revitalization is successful there will be. That garage offers long-term parking, something that isn’t likely to become more abundant if prosperity continues.

Residents at the site, Sher said, will probably pay extra for parking spaces and will be encouraged to use Kitsap Transit’s SCOOT vehicles or Flexcar if it ever comes back.

Them’s Bremerton Goats

If, someday, you see goats chomping away unwanted foliage on city property, Bremerton won’t be breaking any ground.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer last week detailed how government agencies are renting goats to rid themselves of blackberry bushes and other weeds. The advantages are no chemicals get used and they’re less noisy. Some might complain about the droppings, but in some places local gardeners scoop the sites clean.

“Getting them to accept it is always the hardest part,” said Craig Madsen, an Eastern Washington rancher who’s part of the urban trend. His rentable herd of 270 Boer and Spanish goats has never been more in demand.

Skeptics, he’s found, quickly become converts. Once the hooves hit the ground, few can question the tenacity of these ruminants to devour unwanted foliage.

“It was unbelievable,” said John Iwanczuk, a project manager for Saltaire Construction in Seattle. “We’ve been in the business for 25 years — we’re skeptical about everything. But not only did it reach our objective, we saved a pile of money and made incredible inroads with the neighborhood.”

Phil Williams, Bremerton’s public works director, spoke at a Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce Luncheon Tuesday about the boardwalk. I pulled him aside while others were lining up at the buffet and asked him if he’d heard of goats being used. He said he hadn’t, but now that it was in the paper he was likely to get about 10 calls about it.

A King County site showcases some of the goat work on Vashon Island. That’s where the photo above comes from.

While I Was Out

I was out of commission last week, to the point that looking at the computer too long made me sick. It was nothing too serious, but plenty painful and it got me a night at Harrison. Guess it was bad karma for my poking gentle fun at Neo and Trinity in April.

Now that I’m back I want to point to a story Ed Friedrich wrote about how Bremerton’s reformation is influencing some reuniting sailors to stay overnight here, not just visit.

A Navy town for 116 years, Bremerton is a natural for ship reunions. Few, however, have been convened here.

In the past, old sailors drove through the city to glimpse their former ship or duty station. But they ate, slept and played in Seattle. That’s changing.

Ferry Connection

The Seattle Times led its story about Wi-Fi service on the Bremerton-Seattle ferry run thus:

“Bremerton ferry riders are feeling slighted”

Why, or better asked, why now?

Passengers taking ferries between Seattle and Bainbridge Island, Edmonds and Kingston, or Mukilteo and Clinton can unpack their laptops and connect to a wireless signal on their trips across Puget Sound.

But not Bremerton passengers.

Wi-Fi on the Bremerton run now isn’t supposed to begin until late July at the earliest.

It is my understanding that Bremerton riders are often miffed at Washington State Ferries. I’m among those who will allow that while perhaps it’s not intentional, there is a huge difference between commuting to Seattle from Bainbridge and doing it from Bremerton.

Wi-Fi Networking News has a follow-up to the Times story.

Muck and Mire

Deanna Lilley wrote to us and told the following story about her son.

“For several days James Lilley drove past Gorst on Hwy. 16 and noticed a large truck tire stuck in the mud flats.
“He enjoys seeing the bald eagles and the water as he passes by, and he decided that the tire was unsightly in that natural setting. He tried wading out to get it, but found the mud hard to walk in.

“On a second occasion, he put on his hip boots and waded out to the tire again. This time, he lost his boots in the mud ooze.

“So, he attached a rope to it and then to a nearby bouy. The third time he got his boat out at high tide and went to where the tire was. He finally managed to pull the tire out, tied it to the side of the boat, and drove it home.

“He has since discarded it.”

The two pictured next to the tire are James Lilley (left) and Deanna Lilley’s husband Joel Taylor (right).

Your Home’s Value

Some backstory about Sunday’s treatment on real estate prices.

A year ago it was oh so easy to find a home seller willing to be in the paper. If I’d asked for anyone this week, it probably would have been easy again.

What I sought, however, was someone who listed at one price, then after not selling for a while decided to lower the list price. No one wanted to be the face of that. No one wanted to be the photo in a story about a soft market. Can you blame them?

We’ve been reporting on the consistent increases in median home price, but Sunday’s story makes it clear that the overall market doesn’t exactly translate to individual homes. The only sellers likely to really lose in this market are those who bought a year ago. Most the rest are still walking away with equity.

Tunnel Chat

Wanna know more about the tunnel?

The Washington State Department of Transportation will host an open house to discuss construction of the $30.7 million tunnel from the Bremerton ferry terminal to Burwell Avenue.

Construction is scheduled to begin later this month and will last 18 to 24 months.

The workshop will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday at the Norm Dicks Government Center.

Three Races

At lunchtime we went from one general election Bremerton City Council race to three and will have one in the primary in August.

As previously mentioned, former councilman Eric Younger will run against his former fellow councilman Will Maupin in District 8.

In District 6 Dianne Robinson will be challenged by Cassandra Helmrick. In District 4 there will be three candidates for the seat Wendy Priest is vacating. Trent England filed Tuesday. Virginia Starr and Roy Runyon filed today (Thursday).

Cecil McConnell is still unopposed.

In other Bremerton races Mary Ann Huntington is being challenged for her port commissioner post by Martin DiIenno.

In the Bremerton school board races, incumbent Louis Mitchell will run against challenger Richard Dupuis.