Planning for future marked 2004

The past year marked the beginnings of major changes throughout both the city of Port Orchard and its surrounding neighborhoods.

To the city, the changes will eventually be visible, thanks to the work of the City Council, the Port Orchard Revitalization Team (PORT) and EDAW, the Seattle firm hired to study and suggest how to physically better Port Orchard’s downtown in order to improve the city’s economic interests.

If and when the city accepts and implements EDAW’s final report, the changes could end up being more than physical. The transformation of downtown Port. Orchard could include the steady flow of residents and tourists on the streets and a booming business atmosphere.

However, the most obvious change the city could undergo is the removal of the decades-old marquee the wraps around the majority of the businesses downtown. The marquee debate was rekindled and has raged on for the better part of the year, to the frustration of many.

Frustration has also been a factor in several personnel changes in the city’s public works department this year.

Former City Engineer Larry Curles left his post after 23 years to join the Annapolis Water Company. He was replaced by interim-City Engineer Alan Lobdell.

City Planner Rob Wenman was let go and was replaced by Planning Director Joanne Long-Woods.

The South Kitsap Parks and Recreation Board of Commissioners also underwent personnel changes. Commissioner David Kimble resigned early in the year and was replaced by Commissioner John Palo. Palo also resigned and the board will name his replacement next year.

The board is set to change more than just its members. This year, the promise of change hung in the air as the board adopted yet another Master Plan. Board Chair Larry Walker is currently negotiating changes in the board’s water contract with Annapolis.

Manchester residents are also experiencing promises of change. A group of residents formed the Manchester Community Council, complete with bylaws and officers, dedicated to pursuing planned projects throughout Manchester. Of the group’s several pet projects, the extension of the sewer lines in Manchester seems to be the most contentious.

Failing septic systems have forced many residents to replace their systems, but the Community Council is currently forming Utility Local Improvement Districts (ULIDs) to extend the sewer lines and replace septic systems entirely all over Manchester.

The South Kitsap School District showed positive change this year, boosting its WASL scores in eight of nine areas and increasing its focus on previously-overlooked subgroups of students.

Scott Hlinka, owner of the Harborside Bar and Grill, moved his business to Bremerton last summer after his failure to obtain a permanent liquor license, changing the atmosphere of downtown over the weekends. Many downtown residents complained about loud music, fighting and underage drinking in Hlinka’s establishment and law enforcement were repeatedly called. After much debate, Hlinka sold his downtown space.

It was subsequently sold again and is now occupied by the much quieter Moondog Bar and Grill.

Finally, 2004 was an election year and Democrats and Republicans debated endlessly on all races. Though the results of the presidential race were relatively clear and there were no major upsets in the South Kitsap races, the race for governor rages on.

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