Monthly Archives: October 2015

$8 million recreation center closes in on breaking ground

Architect's rendering of the Marvin Williams Center.
Architect’s rendering of the Marvin Williams Center.

$755,000 is all that stands in the way of a dramatic change in landscape at Eighth Street and Park Avenue. That might sound like a lot but put it this way: more than $7.2 million has been raised to create a west Bremerton recreation center the likes of which the community has never seen.

The planned Marvin Williams Center’s latest success was a $100,000 donation from longtime developer Tim Ryan. Larry Robertson, pastor of Bremerton’s Emmanuel Apostolic Church and president of the New Life Development Agency that’s building the center, is confident construction will begin in spring 2016.

“We’re marching now,” he said. “It’s exciting to finally be ready to start construction.”

He acknowledges there’s still some fundraising left to do but believes the money will be there by the end of the year. Tim and Beverly Ryan also hosted a fundraising dinner at their home that Robertson called successful as well.

The two-story, 18,000 square-foot center will include a basketball court and recreational facilities, to go with a job training and skills center. Donations have come from public and private sources.

All that’s there now is a grassy hill and a set of stairs.

“I am overwhelmed and humbled by the positive response from the public,” Robertson said. “Together, we are going to make West Bremerton a better place.”

The center is named for Marvin Williams, the NBA star who grew up in Bremerton. Watch a video about what the center means to him below.

Beat blast: 5 things to know in Bremerton this week

Stories featured this week: 

Photo by Bob Johnson
  1. The whales came to Bremerton Sunday
  2. A bookstore may be in store for downtown Bremerton
  3. Joe Kennedy may sue the district if he can’t pray after games
  4. Two bank robberies, one day
  5. 10-year-old gets new bike after hers was stolen

Hope you enjoy our inaugural edition. Please write me with questions or concerns.

The Bremerton park inspired by the Seattle World’s Fair

City leaders pose for a photo as Roto Vista Park is constructed in 1962.
City leaders look over plans as Roto Vista Park is constructed in 1962.

Buried deep in the files at Bremerton’s parks department, I found the answer I was looking for. Earlier this summer, as residents rallied to take back Lower Roto Vista Park from miscreants, one question kept on plaguing my efforts to tell the full story.

What in the heck is a “Roto Vista?”


In 1962, as the universe converged on Seattle for the Century 21 Exposition — better known as the World’s Fair — Bremerton’s Rotary Club pledged to build a new park as part of a statewide beautification program  to compliment the Seattle festivities. A total of $2,369.32 was spent over two years to create a park next to the old toll booth for the Warren Avenue Bridge, later inhabited by the county’s 911 dispatchers.

“Thousands of hours of work, contributed freely by the membership, has resulted in beautifying a spot which had been taken over by Scotch Broom and weeds,” Rotary officials wrote in city documents.

A contest was held to name the new park. The winner was a Mrs. Benny Getschman, whose husband was a Rotary club officer in the 1960’s. Sadly, I could not find documentation of her inspiration for the park’s name. But in one reference, it appears the park’s name is also spelled “Rotor,” suggesting to me it was a nickname Rotarians used, frankly, because the park’s name just rolled off the tongue a little bit better than “Rotary Vista.”

Keep in mind that the park in those days was just the upper portion. Lower Roto Vista park came later, in 1996, Puget Power & Light company, which owned the property on the waterfront by the bridge, decided to hand it over to the city for another pocket park.

Today, you can view the state’s largest colony of pelagic cormorants as they nest under the Warren Avenue Bridge there.  



Work wraps up on Walker Park — but there’s a catch

Alex Mesick (right) and a crew from the Puget Sound Corps plant a garden at the Lillian and James Walker Park in West Bremerton. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN
Alex Mesick (right) and a crew from the Puget Sound Corps plant a garden at the Lillian and James Walker Park in West Bremerton. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN

Construction of Bremerton’s newest park is almost entirely complete. The grass is growing and the trees have been planted at Lillian and James Walker Park, on the banks of Anderson Cove.

The city, however, is hesitant to open it just yet. Wyn Birkenthal, director of Bremerton’s parks department, says new grass planted there isn’t ready for people just yet.

“While we could hold an opening at this level of completion, a danger is that citizens will consider the site open for use and the recent hydroseeding will be exposed to foot traffic combined with winter rains that would cause us to reseed and replant  further delaying public use of the area,” he told me.

At 2/3 of an acre, the park will give residents of this West Bremerton area a waterfront parkland — something they’ve not had before.

Birkenthal also pointed out that those who advocated for the park’s naming — in honor of James and Lillian Walker, who helped pierce a culture of segregation in Bremerton in the civil rights struggle — need time to be involved in its inauguration.

“I want to make sure we take the time to involve these groups and individuals in the Park opening,” Birkenthal said. “We are not there yet as all efforts have gone toward physical work on the park.” 

You may have joined us for a walk through Anderson Cove in August, where we got to explore the park before it was hydroseeded. Looks like it will be a few more months before we’ll be able to go back.

The grand opening is slated for May 2016.

The new park in Anderson Cove is almost done.
The new park in Anderson Cove in summer 2015.

For 10-year-old, bike theft has happy ending

Alexandra Funari, 10. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN
Alexandra Funari, 10. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN

I’m not really sure how someone who steals a child’s bike can sleep at night. But that’s exactly what happened to Alexandra Funari, a 10-year-old student at View Ridge Elementary School. Last Thursday, her mother, Bonnie Flacco, came home to find someone had ripped off Alexandra’s bicycle from right beside their home off East 31st Street.

“It made me cry,” Alexandra said. “I really liked my bike.”

Flacco said that several kids’ bikes have gone missing in the neighborhood recently, something she too finds unconscionable.

“It’s sad that someone would go around the neighborhood and steal children’s toys,” she said.

Bike theft is all too common in Kitsap County and across the country. In Bremerton alone, 69 bikes have been reported stolen between Jan. 1, 2013 and today. Bremerton Police Chief Steve Strachan said the best thing you can do, other than make sure the bike is locked up, is get the serial number off of it for safe keeping and take a picture. And, if it is stolen, be sure to report it to police.

“We recover a bicycles fairly frequently,” Strachan said. “We have a really hard time getting them back to people if they don’t report it.”

Alexandra’s bike, unfortunately, remains missing. But there is a silver lining.

Bremerton resident Joanne Jogerst saw a post from Flacco on a Facebook page. She knew a man named Thom Kalmbach, a Renton resident who grew up in Bremerton — and that he might have a bike. Kalmbach contacted me and said his 13-year-old daughter had indeed outgrown her bike and he was willing to part ways with it. I arranged a meeting at Evergreen-Rotary Park this afternoon for the parties to meet.

Alexandra had no idea.

“I hear someone borrowed your bike,” Kalmbach said as he approached. “And they didn’t give it back.”

“Stole it,” Alexandra replied.

Then, Kalmbach wheeled over a white and purple bike with thick mountain bike tires. Alexandra’s eyes lit up.

She quickly got on the saddle and began riding it around the Evergreen-Rotary Park boat launch parking lot.

“I love it,” she said.

Flacco said they’ll make sure to get a lock to deter thieves in the future.

Alexandra Funari, 10, celebrates after she rode her new bike at Evergreen-Rotary Park in Bremerton on Wednesday. To her right is her mom, Bonnie Flacco. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN
Alexandra Funari, 10, celebrates after she rode her new bike at Evergreen-Rotary Park in Bremerton on Wednesday. To her right is her mom, Bonnie Flacco. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN
Alexandra with her new bike. In the center is Tom Kalmbach of Renton, who gave her the bike, and Joanne Jogerst who contacted Tom. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN
Alexandra with her new bike. In the center is Tom Kalmbach of Renton, who gave her the bike, and Joanne Jogerst who contacted Tom. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN




INSIDE THE SEAWOLF: 9 reasons she’s the Navy’s ‘most capable’ submarine

USS bremerton
Larry Steagall photo.

The USS Seawolf is the fastest, quietest, deepest-diving and most capable submarine the U.S. Navy has ever built. And she happens to call Bremerton her home

On Monday, the Kitsap Sun got a rare treat, going aboard the Seawolf for a tour right before the boat headed for dry dock. So what makes the Seawolf so special? Here’s nine things that differentiate her from the pack.

The Seawolf on Monday. The algae around it is because the vessel has largely been unloaded and is floating higher. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN

1. The Seawolf emerged at the tail end of the Cold War

There are only three vessels in the Seawolf class — The USS Jimmy Carter, USS Connecticut and the boat itself — because, frankly, they were too expensive with the collapse of the Soviet Union. During the final chapter of the Cold War, the three vessels were designed to outpace the Soviets, particularly in the “acoustics” realm, or how quiet they could be. 

Along with the Soviet Union’s collapse was the derailing of a U.S. plan to build 28 Seawolf-class boats. Today, the three “most capable” submarines are based in Puget Sound waters, with the Seawolf and Connecticut in Bremerton and the Jimmy Carter at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.  

The torpedo bay, emptied as it prepares for dry dock.
The torpedo bay, emptied as it prepares for dry dock.

2. The boat’s armed to the teeth 

Stocked with twice as many torpedo tubes as the preceding Los Angeles-class submarines, the Seawolf can carry around 50 torpedoes, fired from eight different tubes. 

“It was built to hunt Russian submarines, and destroy Russian submarines,” Seawolf Sonar Technician Jacob Stilling told us. 


3. The Seawolf is speedy — but just how fast is classified 

Officially, the leaders of the Seawolf can say the boat can reach a speed greater than 20 knots. How fast the vessel is actually capable of going remains classified. 

150730-N-ZZ999-003 ARCTIC OCEAN (July 30, 2015) The fast attack submarine USS Seawolf (SSN 21) surfaces through Arctic ice at the North Pole. Seawolf conducted routine Arctic operations. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)
U.S. Navy photo

4. The Seawolf has a hardened sail 

You might think that the submarine’s sail — that protruding stack toward its bow — would only be used for communications and reconnaissance. But the Seawolf, like some other submarines, can use it for something else: penetrating the ice in the coldest places on Earth. 

During the most recent deployment, the vessel sailed its way through the Bering Straight and underneath the ice-covered environs at the top of the Earth. While there, its sensors found a section of ice just five feet deep in a land where its breadth can reach 100 feet. 

The sail pierced through the ice and most of the crew even got a chance to go “ashore,” taking photos and filling condiment bottles with North Pole ice water. 

“It wasn’t that cold,” said boat commander Jeff Bierly. “It was like a cold day in Connecticut.” 

While the Seawolf isn’t the first to do this — the Nautilus did it way back in 1958 — it’s still an important skill set in an area of the world where the powers-that-be are becoming increasingly territorial.


5. Her backup’s called Beth

Plus, if the vessel’s nuclear reactor ever goes out under that ice, the Seawolf must find a way to surface so it can power on its backup diesel generator — something that the Navy’s fleet of submarines still carry in case of emergency. The one aboard the Seawolf is called “Beth.” 

It can not only dive the deepest, but it can last down there a long time

While not unique to the Seawolf, the boat’s personnel take seriously its life system that keep it inhabitable for its 154-compliment crew. The carbon dioxide we all breath out is “scrubbed” and expelled from the boat. New oxygen is made by taking water (H2O) and separating chemically its two hydrogen molecules from the oxygen — and viola. The crew must also ensure carbon monoxide (CO) does not build up on board, and does so by chemically adding an additional oxygen molecule to it (CO2) which turns it into carbon dioxide. That carbon dioxide is then scrubbed off the ship with the rest.

USS Seawolf culinary specialist Marcus McConnell makes meat loaf for dinner. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN
USS Seawolf culinary specialist Marcus McConnell makes meat loaf for dinner. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN

6. The vessel can last only as long as its stock of food

The submarine’s most precious commodity? Its nuclear reactor can run for eons and we’ve already learned how they keep breathing down there. The thing that runs out first is the boat’s supply of food.

At the start of deployment, areas of the ship are stacked deep with canned goods, making it possible to go up to 120 days.  

When you consider that the crew — most of which is aged between 18 and 25 — eats around 850 pounds of food every day, that amount adds up fast on board a 350-foot-long sub. 

This past deployment’s favorite meal was probably Asian food, namely sweet and sour chicken, according to Kip Farrell, the boat’s leading culinary specialist. (Farrell, I might note, is from Silverdale.) 

USS Seawolf sailor Garrett Guglielmetti at the bottom of a narrow passage with steep stars on the boat. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN
USS Seawolf sailor Garrett Guglielmetti at the bottom of a narrow passage with steep stars on the boat. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN

7. All that equipment and food makes for tight quarters

Submarines aren’t known for being roomy to begin with, but that’s especially true for the Seawolf. Crew members routinely “hot bunk” to save space, meaning one submariner will take a bunk when he comes off shift for someone who just finished sleeping in it. It works out to about three people sleeping in a space of two bunks as shifts are divided. 

“Space is a high commodity onboard a submarine,” said Chief of the Boat Nicholas Wallace. “It’s like a giant Tetris puzzle in here.” 

They make it work. At times, submariners bunk with the torpedoes. The vessel’s wardroom, where officers dine and meet, doubles as a medical facility when a submariner needs treatment of some kind.

The boat's sanitation systems.
The boat’s sanitation systems.

8. Yes, sometimes it smells

With all that equipment, food and people, the Seawolf has never been able to install a sanitary pump aboard like some other subs have. That means that even when “blackwater” — the effluence on board — is expelled via pressure, some lingering smell can waft through the submarine. 

It’s really not that big of a deal, the crew said.

“You just get used to it,” Bierly said.  

BREMERTON, Wash. (Aug. 21, 2015) Sailors assigned to the fast-attack submarine USS Seawolf (SSN 21) return home to Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton, following a six-month deployment. Seawolf is the first of the Navy’s three Seawolf-class submarines, designed to be faster and quieter than its Los Angeles-class counterpart. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amanda R. Gray/Released)
The fast-attack submarine USS Seawolf returns home to Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton Aug. 21, following a six-month deployment. U.S. Navy photo

9. Time for an upgrade 

The Seawolf on Tuesday headed for dry dock, the start of a two-year overhaul. New sonar and combat control systems will be added, Bierly said, making the vessel all the more advanced when she goes back to sea in 2018.

“We’re gonna get the latest and greatest,” Bierly said. “And we’re pretty excited about that.” 

USS Seawolf Commander Jeff Bierley in the chief petty officer's quarters on the Seawolf. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN
USS Seawolf Commander Jeff Bierley in the chief petty officer’s quarters on the Seawolf. LARRY STEAGALL / KITSAP SUN

The paving is done … so why is Washington Avenue still closed?

Crews paint the retaining wall on Washington Avenue, as part of the street's $3.5 million makeover. Photo by Larry Steagall.
Crews paint the retaining wall on Washington Avenue, as part of the street’s $3.5 million makeover. Photo by Larry Steagall.

UPDATE, Dec. 11: City officials announced Friday that Washington Avenue will reopen to traffic on mid-day, Monday, Dec. 14. Some work continues that could result in intermittent closures but the roadway, including the intersections at Fifth and Sixth streets will finally be opened.


At long last, paving’s been completed on Washington Avenue and drivers will see some relief on their afternoon commutes home. 


Not quite.

The city has chosen to keep the southbound lane of Washington closed until mid-December, in order to get a few more tasks completed and so it does not further confuse drivers, according to Bremerton Public Works Director Chal Martin.

“Since folks are used to the one-lane northbound configuration and the intersection closure, we think it is best overall to get the work done right with fewer disruptions,” Martin told me.

There’s still a lot of electrical work to do, to include putting in those decorative downtown street lights. Crews from RV Associates also must wait for the pavement to “cure” before they can apply markings to the street. Remember, there will be Bremerton’s first “bike boxes” as a part of this project.

“Since we only have one lane to work with each way now, it really makes it much more difficult to get the big trucks in, and have the room they need to work safely,” Martin said.


The $3.5 million project has narrowed the roadway from four lanes to two, which made room for wider sidewalks and bike lanes. The project is also completing a new sewer line that will allow the city to abandon an environmentally sensitive sewer line on the beach below.

Once most of the road work’s done, the crews will be able to finish off the work at Evergreen-Rotary Park. Now that the aforementioned sewer beach line will be defunct, there’s no need for a pump station, roadway and power lines through the middle of the park. Crews will take those things out and fully connect the original park with the new 9/11 Memorial via grass and pathways.

Here’s the city’s timeline — not quite the October completion they’d expected.

  • Paving complete – Thursday, October 15th
  • Street lights installed and operational – October 30th
  • Landscaping on Washington – October 30th
  • Park construction – October 30th to December 18th
  • Underground (electrical) conversion complete and street fully reopened – December 18th

Why yes, another downtown Bremerton apartment project

Artist's rendering of 1010 Burwell Street.
Artist’s rendering of 1010 Burwell Street.

But wait, there’s more. Even after nearly 200 apartment units open in downtown Bremerton in the next year, there are more projects planned around the corner.

The next one is located on the corner of Warren Avenue and Burwell Street. Remember that fire in late September (see photo) that damaged the boarded-up town homes there? It may not be long before bulldozers take them all out entirely and replace them with a 25-apartment complex.

The fire in September.

The 1010 apartments, planned by the same developers as the ones wrapping up 71-unit 606 project down the street, have recently won approval from the city’s design review board. PJ Santos with Lorax Partners said there’s no timetable yet for construction.

The project spans four parcels between 1002 and 1018 Burwell Street, each currently owned by Diamond Parking. Lorax plans to buy the properties when construction looms.

In terms of design, the project cannot be more than 40 feet high. The Navy is asking for that limit along the city’s border with Naval Base Kitsap and the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard as a matter of security.

So why is downtown Bremerton getting so much attention from developers? Those I’ve talked to give three main reasons: the Seattle economy is bursting at the seams, the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard is home to 13,000+ jobs (and federal contracts) and apartment vacancies in Kitsap County are nearly nonexistent.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 4.23.55 PM
A rendering of the floor plan at the 1010.

Here’s a status update about the projects going around downtown. These three are a go:

The 606: Pre-leasing has begun on the $9 million project, which is scheduled to open Dec. 1, according to a Facebook post. (Thanks to Kitsap Sun Business Reporter Tad Sooter for the update.)

Spyglass Hill: Work is progressing on the $15 million, 80-unit project on Highland Avenue. While it was supposed to open in January originally, later in 2016 is a forgone conclusion due to some earlier delays.

The Monterey: The 48-unit project by longtime Kitsap County resident and developer Dale Sperling (who hasn’t disclosed the price tag) at the former Nite Shift Tavern and Evergreen Upholstery is making its way through the design review board; Sperling expects construction in early spring.

Two other developments are still clouded in uncertainty:

The Towers: The massive condo development on Washington Avenue at Sixth Street, pushed through by developer Mark Goldberg but now owned by Absher Construction, has been quiet for some time. I’ve heard a plan to rejig the development to include apartments, a restaurant and even a hotel, but nothing has come to fruition. The developers did pay more than $200,000 to bury power lines on the street as part of the Washington Avenue project.

Evergreen Pointe: The 104-unit complex would straddle Evergreen-Rotary Park on Sheldon Boulevard. This was also once a project owned by Mark Goldberg, but no more. I’ve talked to Kingston developer Trish Williams, who owns it now, and she is optimistic about it moving forward. But nothing is set in stone as yet.

The 606.
The 606.


Spyglass Hill.
Spyglass Hill.
The Monterey.
The Monterey.
The Towers.
Evergreen Pointe.

What the future holds for Warren Avenue

Artist's rendering of what expanded pedestrian access would look like on the Warren Avenue Bridge.
Artist’s rendering of what expanded pedestrian access would look like on the Warren Avenue Bridge.

“The year of torn up street corners.” That’s how Bremerton’s public works department summed up 2016 in Bremerton at a recent city meeting. And no place will have more torn up street corners than Warren Avenue.

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 8.08.12 PM

The reason is that the state is gearing up in 2017 to pave Warren Avenue, Wheaton Way, and all of the Highway 303 corridor out to Fairground Road. By doing so, many of the street corners along the way will need to reconstructed to meet current standards for accessibility. That means new curbs, concrete, countdown clocks for pedestrians and other traffic improvements will be installed in 2016. The state will pickup the tab for 34 of 55 curb ramps; the city will pay half of the cost of the rest, which will be about $100,000.

But city officials, including Mayor Patty Lent, have talked about expanding the narrow pedestrian access on the Warren Avenue Bridge. The state, in a $1.2 million project a few years ago, had improved safety crossing the bridge on foot (and on wheels) by making the railings higher. But if you’ve walked it lately, you know it’s a tight fit whenever you encounter anyone on the crossing. Lent and other think it should be fixed, and what better time to do it then while much other construction work is ongoing, they say.

Chal Martin, Bremerton’s public works director, unveiled an artist’s rendering (see above) and a plan for remaking the bridge, at last Tuesday’s city public works meeting. It calls for narrowing the driving lanes (no, no lanes won’t be taken out, unlike the project on Washington Avenue) to make more room for pedestrians. The route is part of the city’s bridge to bridge urban trail, and the city expects it to grow in popularity. But because some of the supporting structure of the bridge has to be reinforced, it comes at quite a cost: about $5 million.

Meanwhile, Mayor Lent, who last week attended the annual meeting of the American Public Transportation Association in San Francisco, is developing plans for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) up the Warren Avenue Cooridor, and wants ensure any longterm planning has BRT incorporated on the Warren Avenue Bridge. That usually means dedicated lanes on the road for buses, to go with fast and frequent service.

But a bridge that was built almost exclusively for cars may not have much room for much other stuff. I’ve heard from residents concerned about the idea that ‘skinnying’ up the road could lead to more accidents; I’ve also heard from others that say making the lanes smaller will actually slow or “calm” traffic on a roadway that motorists drive like a freeway and one that has too many crashes.

What will the bridge, and the roadways beyond it, look like in a few years? The future holds many variables. What would you like it to look like?

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 8.06.07 PM
Washington State Department of Transportation drawings showing the intersections along Warren Avenue and Wheaton Way.

Behind the scenes at Bremerton’s symphony


After a flood had damaged Mary-Cathern Edwards’ Manchester home, an insurance agent came out and … checked out her cello.

The agent happened to be president of the Bremerton Symphony board, and they needed a cellist. Edwards accepted the challenge.

That was 42 years ago.

“I’ve been there close to the longest,” Edwards said. “There’s a great camaraderie, a great community musical effort. It’s such a cool thing to be able to share.”

On Friday night, 6:30 p.m., the venerable Bremerton Symphony, on the eve of its season opener, will throw open the doors for the Kitsap Sun’s latest story walk.

Some 60 musicians will be doing their seventh and final rehearsal of “Dvořák the Romantic,” at the Bremerton Performing Arts Center.

“We’re from all walks of life,” said William Ferman, a Bremerton physician who plays clarinet in the symphony. “It’s a real cross section of the community.” ‘

We’ll hear Friday from Conductor Alan Futterman and several musicians before they begin the rehearsal. I’m especially curious about what it takes, mechanically, to bring all the moving parts of a symphony together.

The result is beautiful music — and you’ll be able to watch the entire performance. I think this is a real treat, and I hope you’ll join us.

“To be able to join together and as a unit perform these great works — you can’t describe the joy it brings,” added Ferman.

To RSVP, click here, or just show up.

Here are links to our previous story walks:

Campus at a crossroads 

Is the Cove turning a corner? 

Storywalking history, the Roxy, and all things hoppy

Walking the new Westpark

The new Lower Wheaton Way

Washington Avenue, past and present

The meandering Madrona Forest

Redwood Rendezvous in West Bremerton

Fourth Street’s Economic Divide