Federal grant may help bring life to abandoned properties in Bremerton

Up to 14 abandoned buildings or otherwise underused properties in Bremerton will undergo pollution assessments with an eye toward ultimate restoration, thanks to $300,000 in federal “brownfields” funds.

The old K-Mart building in East Bremerton is one of many properties that might benefit from a new brownfields grant awarded to the city of Bremerton.
File photo: Meegan Reid, Kitsap Sun

The pollution assessments are considered a first step in restoring life to properties that have been neglected because of the high cost of investigating and cleaning up hazardous substances on the sites.

The city of Bremerton targeted four neighborhoods in its grant application, which has been given conditional approval by the Environmental Protection Agency. These are the specific areas with descriptions from the city’s application:

  • Anderson Cove, an area along Port Washington Narrows where fuel was stored decades ago in large tanks. Petroleum and other contamination was discovered on the site in 2008, but no cleanup has been done. The pollution continues to cause water-quality problems along the beach, which is adjacent to a residential area and community park.
  • Wheaton Way, a commercial corridor in East Bremerton, where many buildings have been abandoned and have fallen into disrepair. “This is a prime commercial development area, yet many of the properties have remained vacant for decades due to concerns of contamination,” the application states. The former K-Mart shopping center and Parker Lumber store are among those eligible for funding.
  • Callow Avenue, Bremerton’s “second downtown” where many old buildings have been abandoned. The area was once home to dry-cleaners, gas stations and auto-repair shops that are believed to have left behind petroleum, solvents, lead, asbestos and mold in buildings adjacent to occupied stores.
  • Downtown Bremerton, where pollution records list 27 properties with potential problems. Photo shops, gas stations, dry-cleaners and manufacturing facilities once occupied the buildings. Dry-cleaning chemicals were even found during excavation for the Bremerton ferry tunnel. Bremerton City Council declared the 10-acre area “blighted” in 1977 and reaffirmed the designation in 2015.

Two federal grants, each for $150,000, will be used to identify properties that are candidates for cleanup within the four target areas. Money also will be used to review the potential contamination on selected sites, consider future uses for the properties, propose an initial plan for restoration and collaborate with members of the nearby community.

One brownfields grant will be directed to properties contaminated with petroleum; the other will address properties that have other hazardous substances, including asbestos. The term “brownfields” refers to properties that would likely be redeveloped except for pollution or hazardous substances that complicate the effort.

“The City is extremely pleased that our community was selected to receive brownfields assessment grant funding from the EPA,” Mayor Patty Lent said in a news release. “This grant will allow our community to redevelop areas that would have otherwise been impossible and to encourage private investment that will result in the revitalization of our city.

“We believe,” she added, “that this funding will facilitate private property sales and new construction in some of our most blighted neighborhoods — which will help make our community an even healthier place to live, work and play.”

Bremerton is among five communities in Washington state and 172 communities across the nation (PDF 542 kb) to share in $56.8 million in brownfields funding through EPA’s Assessment and Cleanup Grants Program.

“EPA is committed to working with communities to redevelop Brownfields sites which have plagued their neighborhoods,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said in a news release. “EPA’s Assessment and Cleanup grants target communities that are economically disadvantaged and include places where environmental cleanup and new jobs are most needed,”

Bremerton’s application for funding describes the high percentage of low-income residents living in the city and the potential exposure to people living near contaminated sites. More than 75 percent of all homes in the city were built before 1980 and about 22 percent were built before World War II.

Among counties in Washington state, Kitsap County has the fourth highest asthma rate among adults and one of the highest asthma rates among youth, according to the application.

Targeting four areas of the city with the brownfields money should support community renovation as envisioned in the city’s 2016 comprehensive plan, the report says. For the Anderson Cove area, that includes more waterfront access and open space for families to enjoy. For Wheaton Way, that includes two large mixed-use districts of commercial and residential development — one near Riddell Road and one near Sheridan Boulevard.

Before the money becomes available, city staffers must work out final contract arrangements with the EPA. Bremerton City Council is scheduled to vote on accepting the grant on July 5.

Stantec consultants, which wrote the grant proposal, is likely to be chosen for further work on the city’s brownfields project.

8 thoughts on “Federal grant may help bring life to abandoned properties in Bremerton

  1. Wonder why the derelict properties in Gorst (Bremerton) are ALWAYS forgotten. We are constantly calling police for squatters, drug use, rats, and the poor police officers even complain that we are the forgotten stepchildren! We need something done PLEASE.

  2. What sort of contamination would be in that area between the old Merit Mart and K-Mart? Oil drippings off of parked cars?
    That is NOT the reason that area is under-used.

    There are Super Fund sites that still need cleaning / capping. To spend decontamination money on an old parking lot / shopping center seems strange.

  3. ALL SOUNDS SOOOOOOOOOOO GOOD. What strings are attached. FOLKS; Just watch what the City/County does to receive these monies. I guarantee you that it’s going to cost the people money in some way or another. We are not getting the full story. NO FREE LUNCH . These @%#$$ elected officials will figure a way the public will further get screwed. “Money for Nothing” Don’t bet on it….

  4. So they’re not content to only suck money out of the rest of the county on the latest half baked scheme to “make Bremerton great again”? Clearly a great use of federal tax money.

    1. Why would pubic money be used to make improvements to privately owned properties? These buildings need to be condemned and demolished at the owners expense. If they don’t comply I’m sure there are laws would apply. Local government action required.

  5. I am happy to see some progress towards redevelopment in East Bremerton and areas OTHER than the anointed 6 blocks downtown surrounding the Dicks Building via this grant.

    What concerns me is the current small group of “1%-er developers” who have purchased Patty Lent and most of the council’s political souls through campaign contributions and how these developers are currently lining their pockets on the backs of the city taxpayer dollars at every possible turn of the screws Patty can provide for them.

  6. Seriously though, what’s the contamination risk at Wheaton Way? What was there before the shopping center and parking lot? I know there used to be a gas station in that big parking lot (the Gull!), so maybe there are still underground storage tanks or something.

  7. Funding is “conditionally approved”? With the current political climate at the EPA, we better not spend this money until the check clears…

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