Lifestyle

Port Orchard gets a Harley, at a discount

The Port Orchard Police Department this week will assume ownership of a Harley Davidson motorcycle that would have been repossessed without some imaginative financing on the part of Chief Alan Townsend.

“This is a great deal for the city and for the taxpayers,” Townsend said, “We will be able to use this for many years to come.”

According to Townsend, the department leased the bike from a local Harley Davidson dealership, with an agreement to pay $250 a month for two years. No transactions after the bike’s delivery; the city expected to receive invoices while the dealer expected to receive payments. Neither occurred.

The dealer discovered the mistake when the lease was about to expire this year, contacting the city with the news that $6,500 was owed and the bike needed to be returned. The dealer proposed an alternative, to pay a total of $14,000 cash for the bike—an amount that was about half of the retail price—and the lease would be forgiven.

Townsend, confronted with the option of paying $6,000 plus tax and coming away with nothing or spending $14,000—which the city doesn’t have—to gain full ownership of the bike, attempted to develop a creative solution. He approached the Washington Traffic Safety Commission and secured a grant for $8,750, which was immediately approved. He then came to the city council with a request to make up the difference, which it did so by drawing from road funds,

“We are basically getting this motorcycle for $5700,” said Mayor Lary Coppola, “And it was already in the budget.”

Not every officer will be allowed to drive the bike after the ownership change, doing so will become something of a privilege. In fact, the city’s top cops won’t be taking it out for a spin. Commander Geoff Marti said he doesn’t like motorcycles, and Townsend has no idea how to drive one.

The bike, a 2007 Harley Davidson FLHPI, has about 1600 miles on the odometer. According to Townsend, the low mileage is attributable to the bike’s limited use,

“We mostly use this for traffic enforcement,” Townsend said. “We also use it for public relations, it is a talking point at the school, Harley Davidson is a good bike, and it makes our officers more approachable. A lot of people own Harleys and will talk to a policeman who is driving one. It is also a more cost-efficient way to enforce traffic, as it can set up in places that a patrol car cannot.”

The bike will not participate in Sunday’s Poker Run, a local fundraiser in support of Veterans’ Cancer research.

“We’d like to participate,” Townsend said. “But I don’t have the budget to send an officer out on the bike and pay overtime.”

Nevertheless, sponsors expect a heavy turnout for the event, which begins and ends in downtown Port Orchard. Motorcyclists will register at one of three locations on Bay Street; Myhre’s, the VFW or Moondogs, Too, beginning at 8 a.m., and ride to four locations to collect their poker cards. Winning hands will get part of the pot, with the majority going to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research fund.

The event was organized by Kierstin Hazelton, a caregiver from Gig Harbor, who chose Port Orchard “because there are a lot of good people down there.”

As part of her job, Hazelton treats Vietnam vets who are suffering from Agent Orange poisoning. She hopes to make them more comfortable.

“I want to help them make their last days more comfortable,” she said.

Hazelton doesn’t have a goal or projection for the event, saying “this is the first time I’ve done this, so I am looking to raise what I can.”

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