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Downtown makeover moves forward

In their second meeting with hired consultant EDAW, Inc., Tuesday night, members of the Port Orchard Revitalization Team (PORT) and the City Council’s Economic Development Committee (EDC) had a chance to review the team’s direction, renew its vision and prepare for the future.

For three carefully scheduled hours, a group of two dozen local business owners, employees and city officials sat at tables set up in council chambers and poured over individual Economic Redevelopment Plan binders, refining issues, ideas and opportunities.

The combined group learned, after a report from the funding committee, that the committee had met with both local business owners and a local bank, the latter offering to set aside funds for the improvement.

A color-coded map of downtown, spread across the wall helped PORT members better envision what they wanted the revitalization to look like.

Sandy Fischer, one of two EDAW representatives heading the meeting, explained to the group that the revitalization will be achieved in two ways — through immediate projects and long-term policies.

One of the goals re-echoed in the meeting was the need to both preserve and draw attention to the city’s maritime history.

“I think it is something this community feels pretty strongly about,” said Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel, who attended Tuesday’s meeting.

“This place is just so rich in history, but some buildings have been so worked over that if we’re going to bring that history to life, some things have to change,” Fischer said. “We really believe in authenticity and what’s unique.”

The PORT and the EDC will meet with EDAW again on Tuesday, Aug. 17, to discuss the project’s economic options.

A market analysis is planned, as well as a list of projects and programs and the development of a Policy and Development Regulation Analysis that would help to encourage redevelopment.

“I think that we’re taking baby step so far,” Abel said. “The map on the wall was a really good start. We did do some visioning work later one. It was a good step forward.”

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