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Seattle Avenue parcel vacated, committees finally assigned

The Port Orchard City Council granted Gil and Kathy Michael’s application for the vacation of a parcel of land on Seattle Avenue Monday night — much to the dismay of several local residents.

The Michaels, who declined to comment themselves, were represented by attorne yof Poulsbo. Both stood before the council and explained what they intended to do with the land. According to Tracy, nothing has changed.

“They want to preserve the existing structure, rock wall and green belt located in the city right of way.”

Several residents came forward at Monday’s night council meeting to speak against the vacate in favor of the possibility of a future park. Tracy said neither he nor the Michaels expected the amount of opposition they received at the meeting.

“It just seems that every action elicits a lot of response in the community these days,” Tracy said. “I thought that was the responsible decision, the reasoned decision. This is not to say there aren’t alternative ways of looking at things, this decision just makes the most sense for the city.”

Kitsap Street resident Melode’ Sapp said she was shocked by the council’s decision.

“There are a number of people in the general neighborhood that could really see an advantage in maintaining the land until the city could determine what it could become,” Sapp said. “The promise of what might be seemed quite clear to a great number of people. Unfortunately, the majority of the council, in my opinion, put the wants of one citizen ahead of the needs of the community. It was amazing to watch. Amazing and unsettling.”

Sapp said she believes the community will come together once again to fight for a future waterfront park.

“I don’t think we’ve accepted it,” Sapp said. “I think it’s going to take a couple of weeks to regroup. There are other options that have not been explored. It’s a very expensive process.”

Sapp said even the Michael’s original intent, to preserve the historical significance of the parcel, is questionable.

“The historical value of the gazebo has been marred by the Michael’s remodel,” Sapp said. “If they truly intended to preserve the greenbelt, they would have entertained a trade, as was suggested at the meeting. It still would have allowed them the gentle-grade access, but by refusing that, I find it difficult to believe their intent is as stated.”

Sapp said she doubts any future park will be successful without the Michael’s new vacated parcel.

“When the city vacated that land, they land-locked the handicap access,” Sapp said.

Phil Havers, a Silverdale attorney, represented a group of concerned citizens at the meeting after they approached him.

“They let me know they were very concerned, particularly be-cause Gil Michael is on the (Port Orchard) Planning Commission,” Havers said.

City Councilman Rick Wyatt, who voted in favor of the vacancy, defended the Michaels.

“There is no one more honest than Gil and Kathy Michael,” Wyatt said.

Wyatt said he was perplexed at the community members’ request that council member Ron Rider, a neighbor of Gil Michael, abstain from voting on the grounds of potential conflict of interest when fellow Councilman Bob Geiger is also a neighbor.

“That kind of troubled me because I like to be a fair individual,” Wyatt said. “If one was asked to abstain, the other should have been, as well.”

“In most public hearings, the public comes away with the perception that their concerns were taken under the consideration,” Sapp said. “I don’t feel that most people there felt they were heard.”

Monday night’s meeting met with more controversy later on when committee assignments were passed out to council members for approval. Councilwoman Carolyn Powers spoke against the assignments on the basis that she’d been placed on both the Economic Development and Growth Management committees, committees she’s specifically requested she not serve on.

“I’ve been totally ignored,” Powers said.

According to Wyatt, who led the seven council members in roundtable committee discussions, Powers’ attitude about the committees in general was to blame for her committee assignments.

“During the first go-around, a couple of other council members tried awfully hard to please Carolyn,” Wyatt said. “During both of the committee meetings we held, she was not happy. The majority of the board tried to please her and it seemed like committee decisions were kind of at a standstill.”

According to Wyatt, Powers made a comment at the second meeting that he noted.

“Carolyn stated (at the second meeting), ‘If I show up (to my committee meetings), I show up. If I don’t, I don’t,’ ” Wyatt said. “A lot of work has gone into planning the committees, a lot of hours. It wasn’t fair to the rest of the council.”

Powers ended up switching her seat on the Economic Develop-ment Committee for Geiger’s on the Safety Committee.

“If Bob and Carolyn are willing to say, ‘Let’s swap,’ that’s fine,” Wyatt said. “But based on the last few words she quoted to me, I was hoping the assignments would stand. I think Carolyn is just upset in general. I would have left it the way it was, based on what she said at the second meeting.

Powers could not be reached for comment.

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