Work set to begin on new Kitsap morgue

Architect’s rendering of new Kitsap County Morgue. - Rice Fergus Miller, Bremerton WA
Architect’s rendering of new Kitsap County Morgue.
— image credit: Rice Fergus Miller, Bremerton WA

Construction work is set to begin this week on the new Kitsap County Morgue, pulling the county out of a long period of substandard facilities and non-existent customer service.

“I’ve worked toward the construction of a new morgue since I first took office nine and a half years ago,” said Kitsap County Coroner Greg Sandstrom. “The county has deserved this new facility for a very long time and I’m glad it’s finally happening.

“This prepares us for the future and will serve our needs for the next 25 or 30 years,” he said.

Currently, morgue activities are spread across two areas, an administrative office in Givens Community Center and the actual morgue in the basement of a local condemned house.

The new facility will comfortably accommodate 16 decedents at a time, up substantially from the six that fit tightly into the current space.

“Customer service” may be a misnomer with regard to the morgue, since the actual customers can’t tell the difference. However, the new facility will meet the needs of those who have loved ones who have recently died, giving them a place to grieve or to view the body if necessary.

Currently, the county only has green zones, where the public is allowed, and red zones where they are not.

The new morgue will include a yellow zone, an interim space where relatives can view the body without endangering their own health and safety.

Construction of the 8,400-square-foot, $2.89 million building will take approximately one year.

While the contract was awarded to Blews Construction Inc. of Spokane, Sandstrom stressed that much of the project will be handled locally.

Bremerton architect Rice Fergus Miller provided the design, while local labor and contractors will be used during the construction process.

The contract was approved by the county commissioners during their regular July 28 meeting.

South Kitsap Commissioner Jan Angel said, “After several ups and downs, we finally have results.”

Added Central Kitsap Commissioner Josh Brown, “If the public could see the working conditions that you and your staff have dealt with, they would understand that it is a prudent investment.”

The new facility is in Bremerton, adjacent to the CenCom headquarters. This central location will be convenient for the entire county and could even serve other regions in the future, according to Sandstrom.

Construction is scheduled to begin Aug. 1, but a public ceremonial groundbreaking will take place at 10 a.m. on Aug. 12.

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