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Council will review findings of precursor services at Sept. 9 meeting
The Port Orchard City Council will hear the findings from Universal Field Services, Inc. concerning five over-the-water homes and the construction of the Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway during an executive session next month.
At the Aug. 12 meeting, the council agreed to hold the executive session during the Sept. 9 retreat at City Hal.
Public Works Director Mark Dorsey said the city hired Universal Field Services, Inc. on Feb. 11 to assist in the decision-making process associated with the pathway project and the five homes located on the proposed pathway. He said the primary focus was to obtain title reports, prepare appraisals, meet with property owners, summarize their findings pertaining to overall anticipated acquisition costs and determine the level of participation interest of the homeowners.
Dorsey said the findings by Universal Field Services would be presented during an executive session, not during public discussion.
During discussion on the issue, Dorsey presented the council four decision-making alternatives for the council to ponder.
The first alternative was to terminate the federalized project at Segment No. 5 at the Westbay Center, which would require the city to payback $300,000 (spent on design) it received in 2005 and the de-obligation about $2.2 million which was allocated by the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council, said Dorsey.
He said the second alternative would make Bay Street a one-way street and would require the reclassification of Perry Avenue as a 6,000 average daily trip minor arterial.
The third would construct a deviated pathway within the existing right-of-way as currently designed and would require Department of Transportation approval of deviation from a 14-foot required minimum pathway to a 10-foot pathway.
“According to our talks with the Department of Transportation, they would direct the city to use it’s existing right-of-way and not to provided any additional parking,” Dorsey said.
The fourth and final alternative would construct the non-deviated 14-foot pathway and require removal of the five overwater homes.
Dorsey said in 2005 the city applied for a federal grant to build a waterfront pathway form the Port Orchard Ferry Terminal to the Annapolis Ferry Terminal.
He said the project set dormant from 2005 to 2008, until the city moved forward and began working within the federal constraints of the pathway.
“After going through the process and reviews, we are at the junction where we have two options — one is to terminate the project or to take the homes,” Dorsey said.
He said that the second and third alternatives are “not viable.”
Dorsey said to make Perry Avenue a one-way minor arterial it would have to meet highway guidelines for an arterial for 6,000 vehicles per day.
“Based on out talks with (Department of) Transportation, that is not viable,” he said.
Dorsey said to pursue the deviated plan to put the pathway in the existing right-of-way is also “not viable.”
He said it would take the removal of the homes in order to permit and get the ecological lift to permit the pathway Segments 6 and 7.
Councilwoman Bek Ashby told the public that the council has not seen the findings of Universal Field Services.
Dorsey said there has been no official negotiations or offers.
“This was simply a city-funded effort to reach out to the citizens to do appraisals and the values will be discussed in executive session using the federal process with includes relocation assistance,” he noted.
Removal of the homes were not part of the original process. Dorsey said from 2008 to 2013, it was the city’s intention to build the pathway with the right-of-way and not disturb the homes.
“The issue of taking the homes or not, came as we were moving forward with final design to get funding to build Phase 2,” said Dorsey. “When we submitted the plan for DOT review, they said we city couldn’t supply parking on the other side of the street — because of liability issues and for us to use our right-of-way.”
Dorsey said he told the council at an earlier meeting, it the city uses the right-of-way, the pathway would be built up to the home’s door knob with no place for the homeowners to park.
Several people spoke against the city taking the five homes during the session of the meeting designated for comments by residents.
Paula Ryan, whose sister lives in one of the five homes, said she reviewed staff reports and documents on the project.
“Why is the fact that peoples’ homes will be torn down buried in these reports,” she said. “Why do I have to go through information that the city council is exercising ‘eminent domain’ though cleverly disguised language.”
She asked the council when does good policy mean tearing down peoples’ homes.
“To that I say shame on you city council,” she exclaimed. “Have you once considered how incredibly invasive and violating it fells for my sister and her neighbors that their homes are going to be torn down.”
Ryan asked the council to compensate her sister and the neighbors.
“Please give them fair value for not only their property, but for their pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life,” she said crying. “Shame on you and do the right thing.”
Mayor Tim Matthes relinquished his mayoral duties to Pro-Tem Cindy Lucarelli and spoke as a resident.
“I am not very happy about this whole process,” he said. “My position is that a trail or pathway should never be the deciding factor in taking someone’s home.”
Matthes said as mayor he has to sit and run meetings, and not comment on “a lot of things.”
“In this particular case as a citizen, I don’t want to see any of these folks’ homes being taken,” said Matthes. “I’m against this and there are too many other options.”
He said the best option is for the city to repay the $300,000 that was used for the pathway project.