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City, port seeing eye to eye on pedestrian pathway

The Port of Bremerton’s commissioners have started working with Port Orchard’s City Council to redevelop land along the city’s waterfront, an area with ownership divided between the port and city.

“I think that’s a great plan, and I’m looking forward to seeing it happen,” said Port Commissioner Bill Mahan, who represents South Kitsap.

Previously the Port of Bremerton refused to allow the city of Port Orchard to extend the proposed trail through its land, even though it would cost the city more than $200,000 to go around it.

But Port Commissioner Lary Stokes said he’s committed to working with the city in the future.

“We’ve got to communicate, because we don’t need another misunderstanding,” he said. “We’re all on the same page. We’ve got the same things on our mind, the same interest.

“I, for one,” Stokes said, “pledge to communicate face-to-face.”

To help facilitate good communication, the city and port started a joint study session on Tuesday by visiting the area they’re looking to develop, although they went back to the Port Orchard City Council Chambers shortly thereafter because it was raining.

During the meeting, both sides agreed on several concepts, including:

• expanding the Etta Turner Memorial Park;

• reconfiguring waterfront parking; and,

• building the Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway through the port’s land.

“The new trail location would come in to the south of the children’s park and picnic area, wind through behind the gazebo and tie into the boardwalk side,” said Mahan.

The new path will cost $200,000 less than another trail option the city had considered, to avoid port land.

City Councilman Jerry Childs strongly opposed the more expensive pathway, Alternative No. 1, and favored Alternative No. 4.

He said several weeks ago he planned to lobby his fellow city councilmen and the port commissioners for Alternative No. 4.

“I hated alternative No. 1,” he said. “It was unsafe. I’d rather not have a trail than have alternative No. 1.”

The city and port also agreed to shuffle around several of the parking spots near the park.

“We would change the parking agreement to reflect the 10 spots that are along the boardwalk would be for park use and trail use,” Mahan said.

And leaders from both groups said they liked the idea of demolishing two houses owned by the port along the waterfront to expand the park.

“We have the two houses there on the waterfront,” Stokes said. “What I would like to see is those two houses razed to increase the size of the park when they do the trail. It would be a perfect time to coordinate those two projects together.

“There would probably be cost and time savings in there,” he said.

Stokes also said that the port would like to work with the city to give up the houses at a convenient time for both parties.

“They had one-year lease,” he said. “The renewal of that lease is very soon, and we’re going put it on a month-to-month.”

It’s in the city and port’s best interest to work together, Mahan said.

“I’m not sure you all realize how many people, when the Chris Craft Rendezvous is in town, go to the hotel downtown for their sleeping quarters,” he said. “How they get from there downtown is important to us. I’m sure you’ll find that the same thing happens for the harbor fest.”

What happens at the city impacts the port, Mahan said.

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