Powers miffed at plan to fund walkway with parks money

Work will go forward on the Port Orchard’s proposed Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway — at the cost of the city’s parks fund.

The allocation upset Councilwoman Carolyn Powers.

“I have to tell you that I sit here with heartburn,” she said at the council’s regular meeting on Tuesday.

“Every time there’s any money for parks,” she said, “it always gets shifted off to something else.”

It’s the best alternative the city has, countered Allan Martin, the city’s treasurer.

“Tapping the money that’s already approved ,” he said, “would allow Public Works to go forward with this project.”

And it’s a totally legitimate funding source, Martin added.

The city owes the money to N.L. Olson & Associates for extra work it did in designing the Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway.

The firm spent several months designing an alternative for the pathway that the council wound up rejecting.

The council, including Powers, knew several months ago the city might not end up using the design, but voted for the firm to go forward with it anyway.

At the time, they had two alternatives.

They knew one would work while the other was less certain, but would save the city $250,000 in construction costs.

The latter alternative posed a greater risk for the city because it required cooperation from the Port of Bremerton, and the port wasn’t cooperating the city at the time.

Councilman Jerry Childs thought the port might cooperate and strongly suggested N.L. Olson & Associates stop working on designing more the expensive, though more sure, alternative.

But he was in the minority.

The rest of the council opted to keep going forward with designing the more expensive path.

They wanted to have a plan to offer up during the “grant funding cycle,” and they didn’t want that plan to be a risky one.

Powers was an especially vocal proponent of doing this.

But on Tuesday, she fought strongly against covering the costs by taking money from the parks fund.

She said that she’s “frustrated” and “nervous,” about taking so much money out of that fund.

She would strongly prefer the money be used for improvements for the Paul Powers Park, named after her husband, and to the Van Zee Park.

Or they could use the money to fund a skatepark that a local group is trying to bring to the city of Port Orchard, said Councilman Fred Olin.

“The skatepark idea is very much alive,” said Olin. “I’m not interested in funding the whole thing, but I’m interested in a little more than they’re proposing.”

The city can reallocate money to the parks fund, from another fund, later.

For now, though, the council is committed to taking the money from the park’s fund and spending it on the pathway.

“I hope I live long enough to see that we get some more money that we can put into these parks to upgrade some of the parks,” Powers said.

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