Marquee meeting looks to future

The Street Committee of the Port Orchard City Council met Thursday night with downtown building and business owners in a two hour meeting that focused on how best to remove the city’s controversial marquee.

“I laid out the groundwork at the beginning of the meeting,” said Port Orchard City Councilwoman and Street Committee Chair Rita DiIenno.

DiIenno said she worked to keep the meeting focused on what the council had already decided on — the phased removal of the marquee as per hired consultant EDAW’s final recommendation.

DiIenno said the meeting was held to get input on how and when it could be done, not whether or not to do it.

Ultimately, one building owner could not keep from discussing the legitimacy of planning to tear down the marquee. DiIenno eventually asked him to leave, which he did.

Funding for the removal was a large topic of conversation. According to DiIenno, there is funding set aside within the city budget, tax incentive funding, reduced-rate loans from a local bank and building owners willing to pay out of pocket.

“The funding is always a big question,” she said.

According to DiIenno, the most noteworthy thing to consider when discussing the funding for the project is that the existing marquee has two owners — the city of Port Orchard owns the actual marquee and is responsible for that part of it, but the building owners must incur the cost of repairing the facade and developing signage once the marquee is down.

DiIenno said she heard from business owners that they want the marquee down quickly, accompanied by a funding plan and as little disruption as possible to downtown businesses. The Street Committee will meet again without building owners to work out a plan.

DiIenno said the removal will probably come in two phases — first the railing, then the actual marquee will be taken down from the ends to the middle. She hopes to begin the first phase by this summer, although the specific plan will have to pass the council.

Meanwhile, Councilman Bob Geiger has not accepted the council’s vote and is, according to DiIenno, resurrecting a plan he voted against several years ago in lieu of removing the entire structure.

“Councilmember Geiger has decided to go backwards,” DiIenno said.

Geiger cannot bring a motion to rescind the council’s original vote, however, because he voted against the motion that carried and to much time has elapsed since the vote was taken.

Geiger could not be reached for comment.

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