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Infrastructure tops city council goals for 2013

Port Orchard City Council members announced their 2013 goals in the area of infrastructure for the city at a meeting held Tuesday night.

At the top of the list of goals is the Bay Street pedestrian pathway, which represents the biggest transformation to the city’s waterfront in years.

City Councilman Rob Putaansuu said that the project is the top priority because it will help encourage the local community to support downtown businesses.

“It will give the citizens and the community the ability to walk by our waterfronts. This is a step forward to helping downtown businesses,” Putaansuu said. “More people downtown means that the residents and visitors will stop in at restaurants or shops to spend money. It’s a good, public open space that has the ability to draw people downtown.”

City of Port Orchard Development Director James Weaver agrees that the segment of the path in the area spanning from West Bay Street to the ferry dock is the most important aspect of the path to build first.

The city has only been granted $500,000 dollars for the project thus far, in a time when funds for city projects are lower than usual.

“This is the most benefit to the city. Most of our commerce downtown is that first segment from West Bay to the ferry dock. The Comfort Inn Hotel is there, along with the Slaughter County Brewing House. We hope that we see new businesses come in and that the pedestrian path will let older businesses look at new opportunities — restaurants, entertainment.”

According to Weaver, water front access has done similar things for Poulsbo and  Gig Harbor.

“So we use examples from other cities that have done exceedingly well with boardwalk recreation in their downtown areas,” Weaver said.

Port Orchard Mayor Tim Matthes is also excited about building the waterfront path and said that the trail will not only encourage local residents and tourists who come to walk and cycle on the trail to frequent restaurants and shops, but also entertain themselves. He envisions the  pedestrian space as one that allows people to take a break from their physical activities to  enjoy many of the communities  musical and artistic events.

“They can enjoy our Concerts by the Bay, Art Walks, in addition to creating a downtown area that will help all of the businesses,” Matthes said. “To the greatest degree possible, we want to make it user friendly.”

The pedestrian pathway begins at the Port Orchard Ferry facility, near Waterfront Park and ends at the Annapolis Ferry facility. The path will eventually become a part of the Mosquito Fleet Trail, a project connecting Kingston and Southworth along the eastern shore of Kitsap County.

Fathoms o’Fun Float Director Allen Mahaney says he’d like to see more event-related   attractions near the pedestrian pathway. With experience as a parade float builder for this Port Orchard  non-profit organization and as someone who volunteers his help through the organization to put on  the city’s weekly Concerts by the Bay at Waterfront Park, Mahaney  sees  how a concert-like environment would surely lead to more shopping, dining and drinking at local establishments in downtown Port Orchard.

“If we had the pathway built, we could have an amphitheater for our concerts, we could have fireworks going off of our jetty on the bay. You could have simultaneous events going on all at once. You could have a concert on the jetty and one going on in the park in an amphitheater,” he said.

“People are already coming here from all over the state. We have a lot of visitors who come from all over the world — Australia, Great Britain, Germany, Spain, Brazil, El Salvador, Japan, China, Uganda and Mexico.”

City Councilmen Fred Chang said in a time when resources for city projects are scarce, he thinks the pedestrian pathway is one of the most worthy goals because of the physical health value it adds for the local population.

“It is pedestrian oriented,” Chang said. “We want this to be the top priority. I live downtown and I think it is good for them to enjoy the waterfront. We have a lot of walkers.”

Construction on the first segment of the project is expected to begin in October.

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