Port Orchard paint party plan has some hurdles to clear

Many of the older surfaces in downtown Port Orchard will require extensive preparation before painting. - Charlie Bermant
Many of the older surfaces in downtown Port Orchard will require extensive preparation before painting.
— image credit: Charlie Bermant

As Port Orchard seeks to spiff itself up in anticipation of August’s Cedar Cove Days, the community’s collective imagination has been sparked by the idea of a local paint party.

As suggested by Mayor Lary Coppola, the downtown area would be closed up for a weekend, during which a group of volunteers will spring into action and re-do the Bay Street facade in bright new colors.

On the following Monday, the sun will rise and the once-gritty town will emerge in a bath of bright light that will change its face forever.

“There are a lot of pieces we need to put together,” Coppola said. “We'll need to contact DOT to close the street and determining how many paintbrushes we need. But it’s a do-able project.”

Coppola said that he expects to recruit local painting contractors to volunteer, and each take over a portion of the town. The contractors, who would donate their own time, would supervise the volunteer work force.

To put frosting on the cake, it’s been reported the tab for the paint would be picked up by Delilah Rene, the nationally syndicated talk show host who is also a downtown business owner — although she’s declined to commit to the entire cost before an estimate is presented.

“It’s a great idea,” said Moondogs Too owner Daryl Baldwin. “Anything the property owners and the business owners can do to beautify downtown is a good thing — although right now (the plan) is in the conceptual phase.”

While it is hard not to get caught up in the musical theater aspects of the idea and how it can unsmudge the town’s face, a closer look brings forth a wealth of concerns over whether the project can be completed before the deadline.

“Cedar Cove Days is less than three months away,” said Mallory Jackson, owner of Custom Picture Framing on Bay Street “With the wild weather we are having, I’m not sure we’ll have enough nice days to get this done.”

Jackson also suggests that Delilah’s gift may come with a caveat many merchants may find hard to swallow.

Delilah supposedly has her own idea of a color scheme, which has not been made public. Whatever it may be, there will be some downtown merchants who won’t buy into that particular palette.

Even if everyone agrees on the colors (which could itself eat away half the time available for the project) there are several more practical details that work against completing the job in time, even if the weather cooperates.

These include:

• Cost. No contractor will provide an estimate for a job before making a detailed cost projection, so the amount needed to paint the downtown area is impossible to determine.

However, the manager of the Sherwin Williams store in Port Orchard, Jason Rodriguez, guesses that about 1,000 gallons would be needed for the entire job. At $20 a gallon (also a guess) the paint tab itself could exceed even the limits of Delilah’s generosity.

Delilah spokesman Kraig Kitchin doesn’t rule out her spending $20,000 for paint, but suspects she won’t foot the whole bill — regardless of the amount.

“Anything is possible,” Kitchin said. “But I think that we would only supply part of the total, and that our support would encourage others to participate as well.”

• Preparation. Even if the city could marshal enough volunteers to paint the town in a weekend, it could take three times longer to prepare the cinderblock surfaces for a new coat of paint.

Many areas are pockmarked, chipped and broken and will need careful scrubbing or powerwashing before painting, according to Rodriguez.

“The buildings aren’t the same, and different areas will require different products in order to work,” he said. “And there are some spots that cannot be repainted because they are in such poor repair.”

Jackson agrees, saying, “If you don’t properly prepare a surface, it won’t look good after painting. I have several rentals and know this to be true.”

• Detailing. The precision required to paint a wall is considerable, since carelessly applied paint can splatter.

This is magnified for a window, or for trim. And since every store downtown has different windows, some of them with ornate framing, it could take several hours to do each one with the required care.

“Every store has different windows,” Jackson said. “It would take a lot of work to get this done right.”

• Insurance. Bonding against damage and insuring workers is what separates the men from the boys, metaphorically speaking, for a painting contractor.

Insuring volunteers against injury or damage could be an expensive proposition — and open the city up for liability. Kim Punt, owner of Alfred-Interwest Insurance in Port Orchard, said that policy cost will depend on a host of variables; including the size of the event, its duration, whether it creates revenue and who is involved. “If any contractors participate in this it will change the insurance picture,” she said. “There are different policies that cover volunteer labor.”

Even if the town isn’t painted on a large scale, a more manageable plan has already been suggested.

Delilah has donated $2,000 for downtown improvements, which has been channeled into the Cedar Cove Day treasury. This has been supplemented by $3,000 from the tourism fund.

“It’s an overwhelming task to paint the entire downtown,” said City Councilman Jerry Childs. “I think we might want to concentrate on some of the smaller areas that give us more bang for the buck.”

“This is really a lovely idea,” Jackson said. “But I’m not sure it’s realistic.”

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