Marquee pickets will stay for now

The pickets will stay — for now.

Port Orchard City Councilman Fred Chang said walked away from Monday night’s council meeting “disappointed” that a discussion on whether to organize a group of community volunteers to take down the pickets on the downtown marquee — pickets the council has agreed need to be removed — did not result in any action.

“It was kind of disappointing,” Chang said. “I was hoping that we would pick a day and allow the community to be involved. I think there is some sentiment for that.”

The council had earlier decided to spend $24,983 to determine whether last fall’s repair estimates are indeed what the repairs would cost.

CTS Engineers of Bellevue, which told the council last fall that immediate repairs to the marquee — including the removal of the pickets — would cost $41,000, has agreed to provide the city with plans for the repairs, plans the city can use to elicit contract bids, and estimates of what the bids might run.

According to Port Orchard Public Works Director Maher Abed, the report from CTS will be available this month and, if approved, bids will be accepted in April. Work could begin on the marquee in June and, if so, would be complete in August.

Not fast enough, said Chang.

“I’d like to see something substantial happen this year,” Chang said.

However, Councilmembers Carolyn Powers and Bob Geiger voiced concerns on Monday about Chang’s “knee-jerk reaction” to the problem of the pickets.

Chang said that, if anything, the council is not moving fast enough.

If the council decides to accept bids for the initial repair work this year, it will exceed its allotted yearly budget for the marquee.

By the time a new budget is passed by the end of the year, Chang said, another rainy winter will have set in, possibly delaying any actual construction until next year.

“I don’t think anyone would ever accuse the council of moving too quickly,” Chang joked.

“I’ve heard from so many people who would like to (participate in a community picket-removal project),” Chang said. “On the bright side, at least we were able to have a civil discussion about it. It was nice that we could put this idea out there.”

The council met again on Thursday night for the second in a series of study sessions on downtown development. After using the bulk of the first meeting reviewing the city’s current building codes and regulations, Councilwoman Rita DiIenno said she is “cautiously optimistic” a workable plan will emerge.

“I would like to see us take hold of our development plan and actually start working it,” DiIenno said before the meeting. “I know the marquee has been a lightning rod that froze people in their tracks. Anything that we could move forward on would be delightful.”

In the first study session, Councilman John Clauson expressed a desire to create a development plan that would accommodate an upcoming project planned by Kitsap Bank.

“I’m leery of trying to make a downtown development plan because one business wants it,” DiIenno said. “My hope would be to speak for a well-founded development plan that will accommodate and regulate any plans for downtown development.”

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