Task force embraces shoreline planning

It looks like Kitsap County’s shorelines task force is off to a good start. All but a couple of the 20 members attended the first official meeting of the group last Thursday. Everyone seemed happy to be there.

Several members made a point of thanking the county for bringing the task force together at the start of the process of updating the Kitsap County Shorelines Master Program. Kitsap County’s planning director, Larry Keeton, said he is not aware of another county relying on a citizen task force to the extent that Kitsap is. Check out the story I wrote for Saturday’s Kitsap Sun.

One member said he was glad to be part of the process, even though he realizes that the plan finally adopted by the county commissioners may be different.

As a “get-to-know-you” exercise, the meeting’s facilitator, Margaret Norton-Arnold, asked members to talk about themselves. And, to get a snapshot of their views, she asked them to place their names, a picture or some kind of symbol in an appropriate spot on a long poster. On the poster, a picture of industrial development had been drawn on the left side, with a forest scene on the right. People who believed that development had already left its mark were asked to place their symbol on the left, while those who favored restoring things to a pristine condition were asked to place their symbol on the right.

Most people placed their names/pictures close to the center. Two or three tried to suggest ways of bringing the opposite sides together.

Only Bob Benze of the Kitsap Alliance of Property Owners chose not to place himself on that spectrum. He said his emphasis during the planning process would be to make sure individual property rights are respected and that the laws be followed.

Benze’s statement prompted Tom Nevins, a member of the Kitsap County Planning Commission and a longtime conservation supporter, to get up and say his focus would be on community values while respecting people’s rights and the underlying laws. His mark went somewhere in the middle.

Frankly, that’s exactly what I expected from those two, which is one reason I predicted a lively debate in my April 18 Water Ways entry.

As Norton-Arnold described it, the process of consensus-building will allow room for all viewpoints. Where compromise cannot be reached, she will prepare “majority” and “minority” reports to reflect the full range of opinion.

While introducing herself, Norton-Arnold revealed her longtime relationship to Kitsap County, and I discovered a distant and roundabout connection between her and myself.

Margaret grew up in Bremerton, where her parents still live, and she attended East Bremerton High School. As a high school senior in 1972, she worked on a school project about shorelines in Bremerton. A news story in the Bremerton Sun of those days described the report and quoted “Marrgie Norton” during a Chamber of Commerce meeting:

“We looked for Bremerton problems, and people might take it offensively, although we didn’t mean it. We tend to remember the beautiful but not the ugly — the ugly buildings and parking lots.”

It is important to recall that much of Bremerton’s waterfront was parking lots less than a decade ago. Dilapidated buildings and shacks on the water’s edge were common in the 1970s. This high school student produced a slide show to demonstrate the character of the city’s shoreline.

As Marrgie said in the news account: “These are examples of the misuse of the waterfront.”

As for the distant connection to me, the person who wrote the newspaper story about her was Richard Campbell, the reporter I replaced at the Sun five years later.

In 1977, I was covering the environment for the Idaho Falls Post-Register. During a trip to Seattle, I asked to be interviewed for a reporting job at what was then the Bremerton Sun. I was informed that the newspaper had no job openings and would not conduct interviews until a job became available.

I was somewhat insistent, saying I should be interviewed while I was in the area rather than having to fly back later. The managing editor agreed to meet with me. I brought with me a book of clips I had compiled from my coverage of the Teton Dam collapse the year before. The dam failure had killed a dozen people and wrecked farms and homes through the Snake River valley. My clips included an investigation I had conducted into the cause of the failure — but that’s another story.

I never met Richard Campbell, but I was told that he left the Sun without notice to take a job at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Apparently, his sudden departure left a hole that needed filling — and guess who was the only person interviewed within two weeks of his leaving.

The managing editor called me on the phone and asked me to come right away, so I gave two weeks notice and pulled up stakes. Now, all these years later, Norton-Arnold is back before a group talking about shorelines, and I’m there to cover the developments.

5 thoughts on “Task force embraces shoreline planning

  1. Will Marrgie be a neutral facilitator of the process or does she still harbor biases against what she sees as “misuses” of the waterfront?

  2. I think it is safe to say that Margaret Norton-Arnold is not the same person she was in high school. As for her comments about Bremerton’s waterfront all those years ago, I recall general agreement that there were better uses for the property than parking lots.

  3. “The dam failure had killed a dozen people and wrecked farms and homes through the Snake River valley. My clips included an investigation I had conducted into the cause of the failure — but that’s another story…”

    When do we get to read your Snake River valley investigation story, Chris?
    It sounds like a story for our time.

    There may have been better use for Bremerton’s waterfront than parking lots… but only a condo owner could possibly consider the condo waterfront blight an improvement over the parking lots. At least then the water was visible over the parked cars.

    Nowadays, our sight of the waterfront is blocked by the pablum condo buildings…scarcely an improvement over the parking lots for the Bremerton resident or sightseer.

    btw: BL is right, Chris. When/if the time comes, who better investigate than you.
    Thanks for being here…
    Sharon O’Hara

  4. My writing about the Teton Dam failure was done on a typewriter. As far as I know, it has never been converted to an electronic format. The investigation involved interviewing experts to explain the cause of the failure before official findings were released by an independent panel.

    If you are interested in the technical details, a pretty good summary of the panel’s report can be found on the website of the Materials Digital Library.

    As for the best use of Bremerton’s waterfront, I’m not sure what that would be. But most people seemed to agree at one time that it wasn’t parking lots.

  5. Thanks…though most of the urls didn’t work…especially surprising was evidence of a dam failure dating back to 1200 plus.

    Well now… compared to the parking lots, can’t say that the condos with their accompanying landscaping herbicides and pesticides and other condo living items draining into the sound and completely blocking the water view, is more appealing.

    No doubt further decisions made about Bremerton’s waterfront will fit in well with the amazing 14 foot fish statue and separate fisherman stature hogging up two downtown corners…they sure work well with the condos.

    Did Bremerton’s taxpaying residents vote on the statues or have a say in the condos?
    Will it ever matter what Bremerton’s tax payers want for their waterfront?

    Sharon O’Hara

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