Council wants more time to digest PORT plan

The Port Orchard City Council voted Monday to postpone its decision to accept the Port Orchard Economic Development Plan, as prepared by consultant EDAW, until its next meeting on Dec. 27, deciding councilmembers needed more time to review the plan they had just gotten.

In order to fulfill the requirements of the grant used to hire EDAW, conduct a market analysis of Port Orchard and produce the plan, the council must vote to accept it by the end of the year.

The plan is “the result of a six-month study to identify opportunities for the revitalization of the city’s downtown for the next decade.”

More than 60 pages long, the document includes a detailed color profile of 20 projects EDAW said will serve as catalysts for the continued economic redevelopment of downtown Port Orchard.

For every project, EDAW lists the project’s location, its timeframe, which group or governmental entity should take responsibility for the project, its economic benefit in the community, a description and step-by-step instructions for completing the project.

The first project listed is a signage program, the second calls for historic building markers and photos. Both are designed to highlight the history and landmarks of Port Orchard.

According to the plan, the projects are low-cost, high-priority projects for the city.

The third project calls for an increase in sculptures and murals throughout the city. The fourth is to erect environmental education signs for visitors.

The fifth project is really thought by EDAW to be a turning point for the city. Under the plan, the city would encourage use of Bay Street businesses’ second stories, improving the look and feel of the downtown corridor.

This project is predicted to be low-cost, high-value and high priority for the city.

The sixth project calls for underground utilities, making the downtown area more open and attractive.

The seventh project, the phased removal of the marquee and various facade improvements, is still a highly contentious issue.

EDAW points out in the plan that removing the marquee would bring unique identities to individual businesses; naysayers believe it’s too expensive and won’t make enough of a difference.

The eighth project is to enhance Sidney Avenue at the waterfront.

Development marks the next seven projects. In addition to adding 30 townhouses to the area around St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store and 70 to where Westbay Center now stands, the plan calls for a 24,000 square foot two-story development in the Kitsap Bank parking lot to be used for office and retail space.

The 12th project is to convert to current location of the Peninsula Feed Store to retail or restaurant space. A three-story development for retail and office space is planned on Bay Street at Harrison.

A new library site is planned and the old site is recommended for use as retail or restaurant space.

The 16th project is to enhance the streetscape on Bay Street where people enter the downtown corridor and in it.

Three enhancement projects follow: the expansion and enhancement of pedestrian connections, the enhancement of the waterfront parking lot and the extension and enhancement of waterfront greenways.

The final suggested project could prove to be the most expensive, as it requires traffic circles, (like the one at Bethel Road and Mile Hill Drive), be placed at downtown entry markers at Bay and Kitsap Streets and at Bay and Bethel.

The downtown plan also includes a funding matrix to help the City in its quest for funding these individual projects.

After several days to review the plan, some councilmembers are more pleased than others.

“They’re ideas that for the most part were planted in the hands of the consultants and were not generated by an outside party with fresh eyes,” Geiger said, of the plan and the PORT group of which he continues to scrutinize.

The Port Orchard Economic Development Plan is available for viewing at Port Orchard City Hall.

For more information call (360) 876-4407.

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