Tag Archives: Bremerton boardwalk

Download agency letters addressing the Bremerton boardwalk

Construction of a new boardwalk from downtown Bremerton to Evergreen Park is supported by more than a few people, as evidenced by letters sent to the Army Corps of Engineers. But most of the letter writers don’t tackle the thorny environmental issues involved with the overwater structure and its significant impacts on fish habitat.

On the other hand, state and federal agencies and the environmental group People for Puget Sound have raised many more issues than I could cover in Sunday’s Kitsap Sun story.

I would like anybody interested to be able to read the agency letters I’ve seen, so I’m posting them here for you to download. Some agencies, such as the National Marine Fisheries Service and Washington Department of Ecology, are involved directly in permitting, so they have chosen not to comment at this time.

Suquamish Tribe (PDF 208 kb)
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (PDF 180 kb)
Washington State Department of Natural Resources (PDF 108 kb)
People for-Puget Sound (PDF 973 kb)

Is Bremerton boardwalk really a sewer project?

Bremerton Public Works officials say they never would have proposed the 20-foot-wide boardwalk from downtown Bremerton to Evergreen-Rotary Park were it not for the need to maintain a new sewer line along the beach. (That’s not to say, however, that the parks department or mayor’s office wouldn’t have proposed something.)

It seems a lot of people don’t believe that the boardwalk proposal resurfaced after 20 years because of a sewer, and I’m open to evidence that anyone might have on this point.

In a story in Sunday’s Kitsap Sun, I examined the potential environmental consequences of building the boardwalk. Effects of shadows cast by the main part of the boardwalk, running north and south, would be far greater if the orientation of the boardwalk were east and west, experts say. Two finger piers that stretch from the boardwalk to the shoreline might result in greater impacts than the much longer boardwalk itself. One of those piers is planned entirely for sewer access; the other would include a pedestrian component.

I can see why people don’t believe city officials when they say the boardwalk is largely a sewer project. The transportation and recreation amenities seem too great for the boardwalk to be connected with sewage in any way.

If city officials want more people to believe that such a large overwater structure costing $24 million is truly needed, it might help if they fully explained how and why all other alternatives were ruled out — including a discussion of costs.

For example, one option would be to abandon the sewer line after buying up all 54 homes served by the line. While we can debate the political and legal wisdom of such a move, an analysis of the costs would be most revealing.

Dosewallips and boardwalk: Wants or needs?

It’s far easier being a reporter than a policy-maker.

As reporters, we are trained to gather information from all sides, get to the heart of the issue and represent the arguments in their best possible light.

Decision-makers ought to go through the same process of due consideration, then come to a conclusion. Reporters have the luxury — if that’s what it’s called — of avoiding that last step. If we have an opinion, it’s best to keep it to ourselves, even though one side’s arguments may sometimes be much stronger than another.

This balancing of arguments becomes more difficult when we’re talking about “wants” versus “needs,” or what is perceived as such.

For example, I personally would like see a road going up to Dosewallips Campground. I remember camping trips there and hikes into the upper watershed. It was easier to drive to the campground than starting five miles down the road, as we do now. An unbroken road would be a nice thing to have.

But when I examine the environmental impact statement and listen to biologists and road engineers, I can’t help but wonder if this road is something we need to have. It’s like considering whether to buy an expensive car or house — or a bike or stereo as a kid. You wonder if you can really afford it. Maybe you can; maybe you can’t. In the case of the Dosewallips road, the cost would be environmental degradation to an ecosystem already overtaxed. Maybe it’s worth it; maybe it’s not.

See my story in today’s Kitsap Sun about opposition from the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe.

Is this item important enough to pay the cost? It’s a question that must be answered. How quickly you can answer it probably says something about your values. Those of us with mixed values tend to vacillate, and I guess that’s OK for me to do as a reporter, as long as I recognize the arguments on both sides.

This same kind of discussion relates to the extension of the Bremerton boardwalk. It would be a beautiful walkway out over the water from downtown Bremerton to Evergreen Park. Is it worth the cost environmentally? For some people, this is an open-and-shut case on one side or the other. Others might need more information, which you can expect the Kitsap Sun to provide.

See recent stories on the boardwalk issue by Kitsap Sun reporter Steve Gardner — today and July 16. On July 18, Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman clarified the tribe’s position on the boardwalk.

Something should be said here about Native American tribes and their involvement in environmental issues. Tribes are not opposed to everything, as some people seem to believe. But they do have a moderating influence on decisions affecting the environment. In a way, they’re like the banker who says you can’t afford the house you really want or the parent who suggests a less-fancy bike.

Tribes are not perfect stewards of the environment. Their positions are sometimes contradictory. But they are focused on the environment, and we should consider their comments — either because of their treaty rights or because they often make sense.