Community

PO council gets parking garage plan

The Port Orchard City Council got its first look Tuesday night at the preliminary plan for the proposed downtown underground parking garage, answering initial questions about project cost and construction schedules.

The disposition of the Sidney Museum and its place in its downtown redevelopment plan was also discussed, although those decisions will be deferred until the project’s second phase.

The structure will have a total of 473 stalls on two levels, a less than projected in past estimates.

It will have two entry points, from Bay Street on what is now Frederick Street and on Prospect Street across from Port Orchard City Hall.

The cost for the first phase of the project, which includes excavation, is estimated at $24 million in 2008 dollars.

The estimate for the entire project, which includes a relocated library facility and space for retail, is $35.5 million.

The report was prepared and presented by Bremerton-based engineering firm Art Anderson Associates.

While no official action was taken on the Phase 1 plan, the council accepted it in principle and did not require any major revisions.

Phase 2, however, will generate some controversy, in the style of the proposed library building as well as whether the museum building will need to be moved or dismantled.

These matters cannot be completely deferred, since the current plan requires excavation to take place below the museum.

This prompted a discussion between City Councilman John Clausen and museum board president Jud Turner.

“We should know if you have any flexibility here,” Clauson said. “If you are willing to sit down and discuss all the alternatives, then we can proceed with that knowledge. If you are not willing and you will not allow us to dig into your land for the parking garage, we should know that now and plan for a smaller garage.”

In response, Turner said the museum would consider the alternatives, “but we will still protect our interests.” 

The “conceptual” plan situated the two-story library building exactly where the museum now sits, with a large section of what is now Prospect Street turned into a park.

At this stage, the locations of any buildings have yet to be determined.

City Councilman Jerry Childs also voiced concern about the direction of the project, saying that a two-story building and the inclusion of retail contradicted his original vision for the space.

“I originated the idea of having a library on top of the parking garage,” Childs said. “And I pictured a first-class, craftsman-style building that has just one story and doesn’t block the view of the houses on Kitsap Street. If we move the building, we will have to lower it.”

City Councilman Fred Olin said he favored a two-story structure with retail because, “We can get more money for retail.”

And City Engineer Mark Dorsey pointed out that including retail space will help to pay for the space.

“You like a two-story building and I don’t,” Childs said to Olin. “That is part of the process, that we discuss this. But we will need to have all of the information before we act on this.”

Tuesday’s work-study followed a meeting between the museum board and Development Director James Weaver, at which point he encouraged board members to attend the city council’s work session.

Four of the 11 members did so.

While Weaver would not absolutely rule out any plan, there are two options that all parties seek to avoid — permanent destruction of the house or acquiring the land through eminent domain.

He said maintaining the building could have a financial as well as a historical advantage. If they seek to move and restore the building, it may qualify for preservation-related grants.

For more detail about Weaver’s meeting with the museum board, go online to www.portorchardindependent.com.

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