Ports take next step in regional planning

Taking their ideas one step closer to action, commissioners from both the Port of Bremerton and Allyn met on Wednesday to plan their next move in bringing an ambitious blueprint for regional planning to life.

Called Estuary To Estuary, or E2E, the plan spans a 14-mile stretch that hugs State Route 3 between Sinclair Inlet and the south end of Hood Canal, and is described by Bremerton’s board president Bill Mahan as a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape both the recreation and employment developments along the corridor.”

First announced in September during a retreat that included presentations by consultants from Parametrix and Engineering Services Associates to an audience that included all three Kitsap County commissioners and Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel, the plan is one that both port boards hope will help them take an active instead of a passive role in creating the future of the corridor between Mason and Kitsap counties.

“This (plan) will help you guide the process (of development), rather than be pulled through the process,” said Peter Battuello, a Parametrix consultant, who told the commissioners of both ports earlier this month that the next crucial step will be creating leaders to steer the project.

“There has to be a management body in place,” he said, “since there are so many stakeholders with competing priorities.”

Two weeks later, on Wednesday, the port commissioners met again to decide how best to do that.

“There are so many different units of government, (including two counties and two ports), that how we approach this will determine the success,” Mahan said, suggesting that perhaps an InterLocal Agreement signed by the interested parties that outlines their responsibilities would be wise. “That way,” he said, “they would be making a commitment to follow through.”

As to what type of leadership panel they wanted to form, most of the commissioners seemed to agree that a board similar to the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council (KRCC), or the Peninsula Regional Transportation Planning Organization (PRTPO) would be ideal.

That way, the commissioners surmised, the panel could facilitate grant funding and attract interest, especially if its members included elected officials.

“I’m not sure we would be all that successful if we just did this ourselves,” Mahan said.

Batteullo agreed that elected officials would help move the plan along, but said that ultimately, “to really generate some traction and get this going, you need money.”

Port of Allyn Commissioner Ben Meservey then asked, “Where would the money come from?”

The rest of the group seemed to think that grant funding would be available, including Port of Allyn Executive Director Bonnie Knight, who said that the E2E plan seemed like fit nicely with the types of projects that the State Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development(CTED) has funded in the past.

“I think this is sexy enough to attract some interest,” Mahan said.

The commissioners then ended their discussion by agreeing to meet in mid-January to sign a resolution outlining their goals, the most pressing of which included defining, or “drawing a circle” around the physical area they would be focusing on, and identifying all the stakeholders that exist within those boundaries.

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