Momentum building for gov center?

A comprehensive plan to rejuvenate downtown Bremerton and create a 24-hour city has picked up steam in recent months, despite the controversy surrounding its centerpiece — the proposed regional government center.

Now, for the first time since a revitalization plan was crafted for Bremerton, each of its components and their status will be simultaneously presented at a public meeting, set for 7 p.m., Nov. 27, at the Admiral Theater in Bremerton.

“There is a synergy, a momentum that’s building now,” said Bremerton Mayor Lynn Horton. “Now we plan to present the overall plan to the public at the meeting, as well as present the results of the Bremerton parking study.”

Officials representing each component of the Bremerton revitalization effort will share with Kitsap residents information about various cornerstone projects by way of PowerPoint presentations.

Information and updates on the regional governance center proposed for downtown Bremerton will be presented.

So, too, will information about the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority’s waterfront housing project, the Port of Bremerton’s marina expansion effort, the shipyard’s and city’s work on the Maritime Museum and Park and the city’s proposed conference center.

Work stations, operated by officials with project knowledge, will be available to any attendants with additional questions or with comments to offer for consideration following the main presentations.

Looming large on the minds of many Kitsap residents is the status of the government center proposed for downtown Bremerton.

Kitsap County Commissioner Tim Botkin, who represents parts of Bremerton, says citizens who attend the meeting will get a first-time glimpse of the government center’s design.

Seattle-based LMN Architects, who designed Benaroya Hall and the Boeing Co. headquarters in Washington, will be on hand to present a three-dimensional design of the goverment center.

The housing authority hired LMN Architects for $240,000 to do the second phase of design work for the governance center project.

Assuming the project timeline continues without a hitch, construction on the roughly $33 million government center could commence by late next year. The building would be sited between Pacific and Washington avenues and between Sixth and Fifth streets in downtown Bremerton.

At its highest point, the 145,500-square-foot government center would stand six stories tall and feature a tower at its main entrance. Though no concrete decisions have been made, city and county officials are talking about installing carillon chimes in the tower.

“It has always been the idea to install some type of vertical landmark,” said Terrie O’Neill, the county community resources coordinator. “But those details still have to be worked out.”

On the side facing Washington Avenue, architects designed an auditorium-style council chambers, a facility to be shared by Bremerton City Councilmembers and County Commissioners.

But with an outside entrance, the council chambers could also be opened after regular business hours to accommodate a public function.

An information center, to be located adjacent to the main lobby, could offer citizens quick directions to the correct government function or information kiosks and public computers.

Talk has also centered on building a public-access greenspace on a terraced roof facing the Olympic Mountains.

While construction on the government center could begin late next year, a lawsuit between Port Orchard and Kitsap County has tainted the project with a sense of uncertainty.

A Pierce County Superior Court Judge could decide in the weeks ahead whether the county can transfer certain jobs and offices to the proposed government center.

Botkin says that decision could heavily impact the project.

“We don’t have a clear backup plan,” said Botkin, when asked what will happen if a judge rules the county can’t move offices into the regional government center. “If we thought that this project could happen without he county, we wouldn’t be involved.”

Horton, whose mayoral term ends at the new year, disagrees with that assessment. She says there is enough commitment involved in the project that the regional center would be constructed, even if the county can’t participate. The idea is to create a regional center, where federal, state, county and city offices, as well as Port of Bremerton offices could be located.

Kitap County has discussed shifting about 265 county jobs to the center along with several county offices, in whole or in part. County departments slated for some type of move include the offices of administrative services, administrator, assessor, auditor, county commissioenrs, community development, personnel and human services and treasurer.

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