Community

Port of Bremerton forms citizen advisory committee

COPP group discusses website improvements, access to documents at first meeting

After creating a policy designed to improve its relationship with the public largely by keeping it better informed, the Port of Bremerton has formed a citizen’s group to continue shaping that policy.

Made up of three South Kitsap residents, one Bremerton resident and one Seabeck resident, the committee held its first meeting last week and discussed ideas including the possibility of televising port meetings, improving its Web site and the status of the public’s access to port documents and ability to comment during meetings.

“This is a great first step in the port’s endeavor to be more transparent and have genuine public participation,” said John Hanson, a Bremerton resident and member of the committee. “The Port has shown a sincere interest in improving this area and I will work hard with four other community members to provide solid recommendations.”

Hanson, a retired Naval officer, said he began attending port meetings after it created an Industrial Development District tax in 2006 to help fund its expansion of the Bremerton Marina.

“It was done so quietly and showed a huge lack of transparency,” Hanson said, explaining that since he is retired, the port “seemed like a good thing to get involved with and it turned out to be a lot of fun.”

In the midst of strong public backlash following its passage of the IDD tax, the port in May approved the new COPP policy in the hopes of improving the organization’s communication with the public.

“It is absolutely appropriate that we are voting on this policy at our first evening meeting,” said Ken Attebery, the port’s chief executive officer, describing the policy’s goal as “enabling the citizens, business persons and other stakeholders of the port district to become better informed and engage in port business.”

Commissioner Bill Mahan, who worked with the port staff to create the policy, said the need for such changes became apparent after the public outcry following the tax increase, and also suggested forming a committee to continue shaping the policy.

Hanson attended that meeting and pointed out that the public participation policy was missing a crucial ingredient — public participation.

“There was no citizen involvement (in this document),” he said, adding that the public should have been involved in the process since “it is (them) who are missing the information.”

At the end of the meeting, Hanson said he was asked by board president Cheryl Kincer to be a part of the committee, an invitation he eventually accepted.

The other members include Seabeck resident Robert Moyer and three South Kitsap residents — Ardena Miller, Roger Jensen and Clarke Coulter.

“This group is truly independent, and a great way to get the public more involved,” said Hanson, adding that he was keenly interested in having even more citizens involved in the committee’s work and hopefully attending its meetings.

“We really want to involve the public, and have the public to show up,” he said.

The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for Sept. 23 at 3 p.m. at the port’s offices at the Bremerton National Airport.

In the meantime, if anyone has questions or comments for the committee, they can contact Hanson via e-mail at johnhanson992000@yahoo.com, or by phone at (360) 621-6675.

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