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Botkin defends SEED project, rallies for support
At the same meeting during which the Port of Bremerton commissioners approved suspending work on the Port of Bremertons Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) project, the initiatives director Tim Botkin remained steadfast in his belief of its worth.
I will challenge anyone to name another project that has the potential we have with (SEED), Botkin said Tuesday, referring to the clean technology business park and incubator that the port estimates will eventually bring 2,000 new jobs and more than $200 million in private investments into the county.
Commissioner Bill Mahan, the sole vote against pausing the project, agreed with Botkins assessment of SEEDs potential.
Never, in 30 years, has there been an opportunity equal to this, Mahan said, explaining that while the now-folded NASCAR project would have benefitted the countys economy, (SEED) is creating good-paying, primary jobs, not ones (such as) at McDonalds or Burger King.
Mahan added that he still felt confident that (SEED) is going to happen, but acknowledged that there seems to be a lot of confusion about where were going with the project.
While he said part of that confusion can be blamed on the port, Mahan added that, Frankly, some of it is the publics fault for not wanting to know about the project until now.
As a way of answering the publics questions, board Chair Cheryl Kincer suggested a pause in SEED (that she and Commissioner Larry Stokes voted for) to allow a third-party review of both the projects business plan and funding plan.
Botkin said he welcomed such reviews.
It is clear to me that there is widespread misunderstanding of what were doing, Botkin said, adding that a third-party review could help explain exactly what were doing and why.
Botkin said he also hoped that further discussions of SEED could be separated from those involving the recent tax hike imposed after the port created an Industrial Development District to fund the Bremerton Marina Expansion.
That is comparing apples to oranges the IDD doesnt relate to SEED, he said. I hope we can look at (SEED) for what it is, and not (in regards) to other things that are not a part of it.
In an e-mail sent to SEED supporters following Tuesdays discussion and vote, Botkin described the meeting as inexplicably regressive and blamed what he called Kincers willingness to risk losing the project on an onslaught of negative calls and e-mails from SEED opponents, of whom he supposed there might only be a relatively small number.
Botkin stressed in the e-mail that this is the time to speak up, and my understanding has always been that most of us feel SEED would be great for our community. If I am wrong, we will move on. But I do not want to stand by and let this happen without knowing our good citizens had the chance to get involved.
Also in the e-mail, which Botkin stressed was sent as a personal statement and not as part of his role as SEED director, he states that he believes Kincer is being influenced by Stokes, whom he describes as clearly entrenched against (SEED).
I believe (this is because) she has been out of the loop due to health and work issues and has not had the chance to understand the reasonably complex issues of SEED, Botkin wrote.
On Thursday, Botkin added that Kincers personal issues, through no fault of hers, have kept her from being able to participate, and she may not be as familiar with all aspects of the project as she could be.
And part of that reason could be she needs to demand from us that we give her the information, which is absolutely fair, he said.
During Tuesdays meeting, Stokes referenced another e-mail from Botkin that he said had been addressed to a group called SEED Champs.
In the e-mail, Stokes said Botkin refers to a lack of support coming from they (who are) not willing to think or invest.
Stokes said he took the they to mean members of the board, and said he believed the ports paid consultant should be working for us, not against us.