Port clarifies SEED ‘pause’

The Port of Bremerton’s Board of Commissioners clarified Friday what a “pause” in its Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) project will entail, voting unanimously to delay any new contracts until independent reviews of the endeavor’s merits are completed.

“I did not call for killing the project,” said board president Cheryl Kincer, explaining that pausing progress on the clean technology business park and incubator represents “due diligence on the part of the port,” something she said she had been asking for “as far back as the end of last year.”

Kincer then read the motion defining the pause, which stipulates:

• the CEO will secure third-party reviews of the project’s business and financing plan;

• the CEO and Commission president will review and modify as necessary any existing SEED-related contracts and services while “not adversely affecting” the legal terms and conditions or relationships with grant agencies;

• no new, additional or extended contracts beyond those required for the due diligence or to meet grant requirements will be undertaken;

• meetings with private developers will be held and partnerships with research institutions will be established; and,

• the commission does not intend to have the port “staff discontinue its routine work.”

Once the reviews have been completed, Kincer said she saw one of three possible outcomes occurring.

“One, the project is found to (have merit) and we move forward, or two, it will be found to need minor tweaking, and we will make adjustments before moving forward,” she said, adding that the third eventuality would be that the project is declared to be “absolutely not a good fit” for either the port or Kitsap County.

“I don’t think that will happen, but if it does, the worst-case scenario is we would have infrastructure in place for something else,” she said, referring to work that has already been completed on the site now designated for the first buildings of SEED.

After the motion was read, Commissioner Larry Stokes seconded it, calling it a “great idea.”

Commissioner Bill Mahan agreed. “I concur, I think this is a good way to approach this,” he said.

Immediately following the commissioners voting unanimously to put SEED on ice, the suspension was tested by director/consultant Tim Botkin, who said he had brought in completed plans from the architecture firm Mithun, Inc. — hired by the port last October to design the project — and asked Kincer to consider adding them to the meeting’s agenda.

“No, we’re done,” Kincer said, before moving the meeting into executive session.

The board did not take public comments.

Also at the meeting:

• The board voted unanimously to approve a resolution raising the annual salary of both the port’s CEO Ken Attebery and attorney Gordon Walgren.

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