McCormick resigns as association president

Bay Street Merchants Association President Phil McCormick resigned from office at last Wednesday’s association meeting, citing frustration with downtown merchant attitude.

In his letter of resignation, he said a major factor in his decision was a recent petition opposing the proposed expansion to the Festival by the Bay. The petition, which received 30 signatures and was delivered to the Port Orchard city clerk Feb. 20, said the expanded festival would cause merchants “severe financial hardship.”

Although the petition collected signatures from merchants outside the immediate downtown area, approximately 10 merchants within the area defined by the marquee signed.

Several had attended the association meeting where the festival was discussed but did not raise any objections then. McCormick said nobody who signed the petition called to talk to him about the festival plans and pointed out that many of those who signed had businesses well outside the festival’s scope.

Pat Drew, who spearheaded the petition effort, said she felt the petition was not anti-festival, but rather served as “a voice of the people.”

She said many Bay Street merchants are adversely affected by the festival, including Half-Time Meat Supply, the tenant of the building she owns.

“If our tenants can’t make rent, we lose them,” Drew said. “There’s some of us who rely upon Bay Street being open because it is a highway.”

She added: “Not everything can be run by Phil McCormick.”

One of the signers, Fred Karakas of Olympic Bike and Skate said he had only signed the petition with the understanding it would be taken to McCormick, rather than to the city council. Karakas supports starting the festival mid-day Saturday, rather than Saturday morning as proposed. He pointed out most of his clients come in before noon, and few tourists are likely to want bikes or repair services on the spur of the moment.

Although Karakas attended the association meeting at which the festival was discussed, he said he never felt there was a good moment to talk about how he felt.

“I’m a go-along and get-along kind of guy,” Karakas said. “I am so sorry (about what happened with the petition). I’ve got to go talk to Phil. I wanted this all handled down here on the street. What we need to come up with is a win-win situation.”

McCormick, however, said most of the petition supporters, including Drew, weren’t association members and don’t attend meetings. He said he’s tired of trying to improve the downtown area only to be undermined by those who choose not to give input.

“I love doing it (being president), but I can’t contientiously represent these kind of people,” McCormick said. “I can’t feel good doing it.”

McCormick, who is in his third year as president, has agreed to retain his position for the next three months to give the association time to find a replacement. Those interested in the position must have been paid members of the association for at least one continuous year.

“By no means does this mean I will stop striving to improve this community and downtown Port Orchard,” McCormick said. “I will continue to be as active as I always have been. However, I will be doing this as a business owner.”

At the same meeting, Secretary/Treasurer Brenda Zink-McKee succeeded in resigning after having attempted to do so several times in the last year and a half. Each time, McCormick said, she had to continue her term due to lack of potential replacements. Sheri Meek, a manager at Key Bank, will be taking over Zink-McKee’s responsibilities.

The association hasn’t had a secretary since August when Sue Nelson closed her business, Cubbyhole Toys, and left the group. Monika Sabol, of Western Washington Center for the Arts, volunteered to revive the position Feb. 20. Vice president Ron Rider, of Harborside Bar & Grill, retains his office. His term will officially be up at the end of this year.

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