Category Archives: Downtown

Bye bye, blue signs

Photo by Meegan M. Reid.

By the end of the year, the blue parking enforcement signs once prevalent in downtown Bremerton will be a thing of the past. A judge ruled they violate state law and the city claims it was already beginning to replace them. The whole project will cost the city up to $8,000 to remedy, the public works department says.

The story generated a firestorm of comments, ranging from: “More tax dollars wasted! Research people! Research!!!!” to: “Stupid! I liked the signs. Apparently people don’t want to have to read? The blue was different and nice looking.”*

Here at the Kitsap Sun, we received a lot of feedback with a simple question: if the Poulsbo man who generated the lawsuit had demanded the city use federally allowed white signs with red lettering, what’s the city doing erecting all that green lettering?

For that answer, we turn to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Devices (MUTCD), devised by the U.S. Department of Transportation. The manual, adopted by Washington state, is what the Kitsap judge relied on in making his decision Bremerton’s signs are unlawful.

The manual states that for areas where parking is prohibited, red letters will be used. For areas where parking is limited to a certain number of hours, the signs are green. Here’s a diagram to help:

sign, sign, everywhere a sign.

So, now that the city is following the MUTCD on parking signs, that’s the end of the case, right? Not quite. Kitsap County Superior Court Judge Kevin D. Hull has not ruled on a remedy for what happens now. But since the city has already chosen to replace the signs, the only other big question is whether the thousands of people who got parking tickets since 2012 could recoup their fines. Hull has asked both lawyers for the plaintiff and the city to “provide further briefing.” The next hearing in the case is Dec. 9.


*Actual comments from Facebook.



Bremerton ‘holds very special place’ in Quincy Jones’ heart

City leaders got the go-ahead from Quincy Jones to create a public square in his name. Photo by Larry Steagall of Fourth Street, where the square is slated to go.

A critical hurdle city leaders faced in constructing a new public square to music icon Quincy Jones was getting the permission from Jones himself. 

And late this last month, Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent got word he approved.

“As I’m sure you know Bremerton holds a very special place in Mr. Jones’ heart and he is honored that the city has seen fit to recognize him with the dedication of this square,” Jones’ publicist, Arnold Robinson, told Lent in an email.

Lent had hoped Jones, who discovered his love of music while living in Bremerton as a child, could come here next May for some festivities, including the Armed Forces Day parade. He politely declined due to a scheduling conflict. But he offered his blessing, Lent said.

“We can move forward with  Quincy Square on Fourth,” Lent told me Thursday, adding they’ll approach Jones again if and when the project is finished. “Everyone’s excited.”

The concept, seen below, was developed by the “Fourth Street Action Group,” a gathering of community leaders for the past two years at Rice Fergus Miller architects. It’s a complete transformation of Fourth, between Pacific and Washington avenues, that includes piano key-inspired sidewalks. Designer Emily Russell is credited with introducing the idea to honor Jones.

The project is by no means a done deal and will cost about $4.8 million start to finish. I’ll keep you posted as we learn more about it.



Mailbag: What’s the construction on Second Street all about?


Q: What’s up with all of the construction work on Second Street, within and around the headquarters of Kitsap Credit Union

A: This is one I’ve been hearing a lot lately. Portions of the credit union’s parking garage have been fenced off and construction crews have been digging a trench along Second Street outside the garage (pictured).

Photos by Larry Steagall.

I spoke with Leah Olson, the credit union’s vice president for marketing, to get the scoop.

“Water has been leaking into the underground parking garage,” she told me.

The company hired engineers to analyze how the leaks were occurring and following about three years’ research, the project to fix them began following the Blackberry Festival over Labor Day weekend, Olson said.

Plugging the leaks is not an easy process and the work will continue into December, Olson said. But she noted that the downtown branch will remain open for business through it all, and the company wanted to make sure to minimize impact to its membership.

The Kitsap Credit Union opened its headquarters downtown in July 2006.

Meanwhile, there’s some other construction nearby as well, closer to the ferry terminal (pictured below). That site, constructed by its owner Tim Ryan Construction, will house a 5,000-square-foot building for Chung’s Teriyaki, plus plop three apartments on top.




Who let the dogs out? Street fair to take over Fourth Street

In this April 23, 2013 photo, Dusty is the Bremerton, Wash. Police Department's new drug sniffing dog. The Bremerton Police Department, following in the footsteps of many law enforcement agencies around the state, is not training its newest officer how to sniff out marijuana. Months after voters approved an initiative legalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, Dusty is the first narcotics dog in Kitsap with the distinction. (AP Photo/Kitsap Sun, Meegan M. Reid)
K9 Dusty will be downtown Saturday, along with many of his colleagues. Photo by Meegan M. Reid.

Dog lovers are in for a treat downtown on Saturday. A veritable who’s who of Kitsap’s police K9s will trot onto Fourth Street and put on a show. The road will be shut down and merchants up and down the block will be joining in the celebration, from 12-5 p.m.

The all-ages street fair is a joint effort of the Horse & Cow Pub & Grill and a California organization called the Gavin Buchanan Memorial Foundation. As a 5-year-old, young Gavin donated his piggy bank to help police dogs be better protected with vests and equipment. But sadly, the boy was killed in a terrible case of domestic violence in Benicia, California only eight days after his eighth birthday in 2015.

As you might know, the Horse & Cow once had a location in Vallejo, close to the site of an old Navy base. The Buchanan family goes way back with the Horse & Cow and owner Mike Looby, and Gavin’s uncle Brett Miller lives in Port Orchard.

The event will help raise money for K9s right here in Kitsap, with demonstrations by dogs and their handlers from the Bremerton Police Department, Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office and Washington State Patrol.

It’s gearing up to be quite a weekend in Bremerton, with Manette Fest from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. the same day.



The piano keys of Quincy Square


A cascade of oversized piano keys would run along the sidewalks of both sides of Fourth Street near Pacific Avenue, should plans for “Quincy Square” materialize.

As you may have read in my story in Sunday’s Kitsap Sun, a bunch of volunteers calling itself the “Fourth Street Action Group” has been meeting for about two years in an effort to revitalize a largely vacant section of the roadway between Washington and Pacific Avenues. I wanted you to have a chance to see for yourself the designs that have come out of those meetings, put together by Rice Fergus Miller Architects.

As you can see from above, the piano keys would serve to tell the story about how Jones, the icon, discovered his love of music after breaking into an armory one night in Bremerton about 70 years ago. There would be a square for concerts and other events and the roadway could be shut down to create a plaza around the square.

This project is by no means a slam dunk, however. The group, with the city as its advocate, will have to raise nearly $5 million to complete it.

And what about Quincy Jones himself? City officials have yet to talk with him about the plan and confirm he’d be willing to come to Bremerton for any kind of festivities surrounding the plaza project. Mayor Patty Lent has reached out to his staff, and has vowed to also contact federal judge Richard Jones, a half brother of the music icon based in Seattle.

Screen Shot 2016-08-29 at 7.53.06 AM


A fountainless Bremerton in 2016

Before the dark times.
Before the dark times.

Bremerton’s Harborside Fountain Park will be a decade old in 2017. Unfortunately, that’s also the next time the submarine sail-shaped spouts will operate again.

City officials made the call this week to forgo attempts to get the fountains back up and running in time for this year’s summer season. Regulatory hoops and repairs, to make the park safe for water waders, will eat up the entire year, Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent said Thursday.

“It’s very disappointing,” Lent lamented. “On the hot days, those fountains draw so many people downtown. And our downtown couldn’t look prettier.”

The fountains will be dry ’til 2017. Parks director Jeff Elevado pictured. Photos by Meegan M. Reid.

As a consolation, the city will fire up the sprinklers from noon to 3 p.m. Friday (Aug. 26) at Evergreen-Rotary Park, Lent said. There could be more sprinkler outings on subsequent hot days.

Under Lent’s watch, the fountains have turned on each year in March (former Mayor Cary Bozeman would run them year round, but Lent thought it a prudent cost savings measure to turn them off in winter). Not this year. The city’s parks department, which maintains them, has grown increasingly concerned that the mechanisms keeping them going are failing.

The $20 million fountain park, formerly a rather unsightly lay-down yard within the shipyard, was not meant to be a swimming pool. But treating them as such has taken a toll. So city officials have authorized up to $100,000 in Real Estate Excise Tax funds to reconstruct filtration, control systems and upgrade plumbing. The goal is to ensure the water’s safe for human contact.


But the fountains also caught the eye of both the state and county’s health departments. The city had to apply for permitting to make the fountain park a recreational water facility. That took several months earlier this year. Even now, with approval, a bunch of parts needed for the repairs remain on back order.

Lent said that even once the repairs are done, the state and county health departments will want to conduct testing to ensure the water is safe. That’s going to take time, and sadly, that means Bremerton’s fountain park will be fully fountainless through 2016.

Construction begins in July on Williams Center


It’s game time for the Marvin Williams Center. The $6.4 million project, to include a gymnasium and job skills center, will break ground July 7 at the corner of Park Avenue and 8th Street.

“We’re ready and boy are we excited,” said Larry Robertson, pastor of Emmanuel Apostolic Church, which is spearheading the project.

It’s been a long road for the New Life Development Agency, the development arm of the church that has been planning the community center for more than a decade. Once opened, the center will provide everything from job training to a place for teens to play after school. It will be named for Williams, a longtime NBA star born and raised here.

Save the dates were mailed out starting last week.

Donations and state funding have poured in for the center in recent years. The State Legislature funded $1.6 million of the project in its capital budget in 2013; donations have from from the C. Keith Birkenfeld Trust, the family of teacher A.Y. Petter and Williams himself.

The center was $755,000 away from full funding last October, following a $100,000 from longtime developer Tim Ryan. But in the time since, several large donations have rolled in, including $112,000 during the Kitsap Great Give. Robertson said the organization is still short the project’s $6.4 million price tag, but by an amount it is confident it will reach in the coming months.

Williams, the center’s namesake, just finished his 11th season in the NBA, and enters the summer in free agency. He called this past season “probably the most fun year of my career,” helping the Hornets amass a 48-34 record with nearly 12 points a game. The team recently lost a a nail biter of a first-round series to the Miami Heat, 4-3.

The groundbreaking will be at 5 p.m. July 7. Robertson said construction should take nine months.

Bremerton’s Chase building will have its rocks checked


No rock will be left untouched. 

You may have noticed scaffolding now surrounds the Chase Bank building on Pacific Avenue (pictured). There’s good reason for that, as the building’s property managers are embarking on a two-week project that will secure every rock in its rather unique facade and will add a sealant and epoxy over them to ensure they don’t go anywhere in the future.


“We’re going to make sure the exterior is maintained,” said Melissa Marsh, a senior property manager with Beverly Hills, California-based Cardinal Equities. Cardinal manages the building for its owner, Bremerton Capital Group, also based in Southern California.

Marsh said that other options to remake the facade proved too costly. So, for those fans of the Mo-Sai architecture, you’re in luck: it’s here to stay. I was amazed at the range of the 80+ Facebook responses Wednesday when I asked a simple question: what do you think of the building’s facade?

“I love it, and so do my kids,” Sara Lyn commented. “I like the earthy, Natural feel to it, versus brick and mortar everything, and my kids love to examine the cool rocks!”

“Hate it,” Will Maupin wrote. “Looks like a cheap 1960s apartment building.”

And every opinion in between.

One thing’s for sure: it’s recognizable. As Craig Johnson noted on my Facebook post, which contained an oddly angled picture (above) of the facade, “Notice how everyone knows what it is, even from a somewhat abstract photo?”

Photo contributed by Colleen Monroe.
Photo contributed by Colleen Monroe.

The building was built in the site of a former Methodist church (pictured) which was demolished in the mid-1960s. In its place first rose the First Federal Savings & Loan. Its architects built it in the Mo-Sai style (see pictured ad), a series of quartz rocks that filled the sides of the seven story building like some kind of a vertical beach. (The city’s Carillon bells also happen to ring from the top of the building).

At some point, a rock or two was bound to become loose from the facade.

In November, staff at the Department of Labor and Industries — which has an office in the building — expressed concern after a customer brought in three rocks he said had fallen off the building.

Photo contributed by Colleen Monroe.
Photo contributed by Colleen Monroe.

“As you can imagine, we are concerned that a rock could potentially fall on a pedestrian,” Lori Oberlander, an office manager with L&I, told the city’s Department of Community Development in an email.

City staff attempted to investigate, but had no way of contacting the man without his name or contact information. 

The property management company decided to nip any potential problems in the bud. They’ve hired Applied Restoration to perform the masonry work over the next two weeks. Each rock on the building will be individually checked, to be on the safe side, Marsh said. I’ll keep an eye on the project as it proceeds.

Lastly, I must add the pun-filled Facebook comments of Jeff Coughlin, who happens to be a NASA scientist living in Bremerton: “I think it rocks, but we probably take it for granite. A change could be gneiss. Perhaps clean the slate and lime it with some sort of trendy new schist.” Oh, dear.

Photo by Meegan M. Reid.
Photo by Meegan M. Reid.

Strawtroversy: Bremerton woman told not to drink beer from straw


During a social gathering at the Bremerton Bar & Grill March 14, Bremerton resident Tonya Deline asked to have a beer, and a straw to go with it. 

She said she got a puzzled look from her waiter, who gave a warning to her once providing the straw.

“He says, ‘I hope you’re not trying to drink that beer with your straw,'” Deline recalled. “We all thought he was joking.”

He wasn’t. (And, for the record, this is not an April Fool’s joke, either.)

That led to the illumination of a table-full of cell phones, each of its owners googling and searching for state laws that might ban straw-drunk beer. Deline decided she’d had enough and consulted the manager.

The manager backed up the waiter, she said.

“The whole situation made me very uncomfortable,” she said.

A friend called the state’s Liquor and Cannabis Board to seek clarification. The friend was told no such law existed. I confirmed that as well.

“I don’t know of any reason why you couldn’t drink beer through a straw,” said Brian Smith, spokesman for the state’s liquor and cannabis board. 

I reached out to the new Bremerton Bar & Grill general manager, Jeffrey Kaune, who told me he was not authorized to speak to the media on the subject. But he did respond to a Facebook post addressing the issue, apologizing that it happened and noting he’d given a $100 voucher to the friend who’d contacted the liquor board.

He also wondered on Facebook about how the straw “myth” was perpetuated.

As LoveCraft Brewer Jesse Wilson joked: “There is no chance that drinking beer from a straw is illegal,” he said. “Immoral? Perhaps. Bizarre? Certainly.”

I say to each, his or her own. Deline, for her part, said she won’t be going back to the bar and grill. She said she likes to drink beer out of a straw to prevent spills. There’s no state law banning her from doing so.

Harry Truman returns to Bremerton

President Harry S. Truman impersonator Michael King, of Seattle, heads up Pacific Ave. on his way to the plaque that commemorates the location where Truman spoke during a campaign stop in 1948 and the slogan "Give 'em Hell, Harry!" was coined, on Monday, March 7, 2016. King was on his way to speak to the Bremerton Rotary Club. (MEEGAN M. REID / KITSAP SUN)
President Harry S. Truman impersonator Michael King, of Seattle, heads up Pacific Ave. Monday.  (MEEGAN M. REID / KITSAP SUN)

Harry Truman made his second sojourn to Bremerton on Monday, venturing to the Fifth Street and Pacific Avenue spot where the former president addressed the masses on June 10, 1948 in a campaign speech. The spot is marked with a plaque and is the place where the 33rd president first heard a supporter’s rallying cry, “Give ‘em Hell, Harry.”

Truman, in this case, was Seattle attorney Michael B. King, who has taken to appearing as the president in front of Rotary groups around the state since 2012.

King appeared in front of the Rotary Club of Bremerton at the invitation of Rotary member Tim Quigley. Making the Rotary circuit, King was not aware of the significance of Bremerton on that 1948 campaign tour through the Pacific Northwest, until Quigley told him about it.

Though some have offered skepticism that the phrase was first uttered here, a member of Rotary offered a first-hand account that it was indeed.

Chuck Henderson, who manages downtown properties for developer Ron Sher, was revealed by a fellow Rotary member to have been at the speech. Henderson confirmed that he heard it.

“Everyone laughed and clapped” after the man in the crowd said it, Henderson recalls from that day. He said he was 8 or 9. 

King spoke to Rotary members — as Truman — on the topic of “Making the Tough Decisions.” Pointing out that the president is much more popular through the lens of history than he was while in office, “Truman” talked about the “paradox” of leadership in a democracy.

“Sometimes the leaders in a democracy have to be willing to tick off the people who put them in office to do what’s best for the country,” he said.

President Harry S. Truman impersonator Michael King, of Seattle, sports a polk-a-dot bowtie and a small FDR button.(MEEGAN M. REID / KITSAP SUN)
President Harry S. Truman impersonator Michael King, of Seattle, sports a polk-a-dot bowtie and a small FDR button.(MEEGAN M. REID / KITSAP SUN)

Three of the toughest decisions Truman had to make, according to King: His decision to remove General Douglas Macarthur from command in 1951 (“He was a little bit like the girl in the nursery rhyme — ‘When she was good, She was very good indeed, But when she was bad she was horrid’”); his decision to desegregate the Armed Forces in 1948 (“We had defeated the most racist power in the history of the globe, yet this country was stained with racism”); and the decision to drop the atomic bomb to end hostilities with Japan in World War II.

What politicians of today can learn from the Truman of yesteryear, King, ur, “Truman,” told the audience, was the importance of being in touch with the people. The president is the president – not a king, or an emperor. The people in a democracy are sovereign. There are so many layers today between our country’s top leader and the people, he said, remarking on Secret Service caravans.

 “If we could figure out some way to peel those layers back…”

The Rotary Club of Bremerton meets at noon on Mondays.