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Port picks firm to help build SEED incubator

The Port of Bremerton Board of Commissioners Tuesday night approved the selection of a firm to oversee the construction of a Clean Technology Small Business Incubator, an initial part of the port’s Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) project.

Interim Chief Executive Officer Tim Thomson told the board that port staff had vetted the 19 requests and proposals they received and decided on six firms to interview for the role of project development manager.

Thomson said the consultant’s role will be to “assist the staff in its efforts to find cost effective re-design changes to the project that would bring the cost of the building (down) ... without losing building functionality and preserve the highest LEED certification.”

Thomson said staff had identified The Warren Company as the ideal candidate, explaining that the Shelton-based company was involved in constructing Bainbridge Island’s IslandWood, which Thomson said was the state’s first building to be certified LEED gold.

Commissioner Bill Mahan said the process of hiring a project development manager “began in November when the port tried to hire (Godstream Technologies)” to see if there were changes in materials and practices that could be made to save money.

“The estimated cost of the incubator building is now $7.1 million, and we have a gap in funding that we’re going to have to fill if we want to get the building built,” Mahan said.

Board President Cheryl Kincer tried to describe the project as if “you have the land and the design to build your dream home, but then you find out that you can’t afford it. So you go through the process of figuring out how you can build the home.”

Commissioner Larry Stokes said he did not believe the port should be building a new building when it had one “sitting vacant for 14 months at a cost of $20,000 a month.

“I think we’re going about this in the completely wrong way,” Stokes said. “I am absolutely afraid that if we’re not careful, were going to send the port into a bankruptcy situation.”

Bremerton resident Kathleen Seamans agreed, saying that she thought the port was “putting the cart before the horse,” while fellow Bremerton resident John Hanson said the move was typical of how the rest of the project has progressed.

“I find it appropriate that the board is hiring another consultant for a project that was spawned by a consultant,” Hanson said. “The board has certainly employed a lot of consultants.”

A third citizen, Louis Soriano, said he was concerned that the board was not asking how much the consultants were to be paid, how long they were to work or what they were expected to acheive.

“You are spending tax dollars on speculation,” Soriano said.

Thomson, on the board’s request, then explained that the board was merely approving the staff’s selection of the most qualified candidate, and that now he was authorized to negotiate the details of the contract.

A vote was then called for, with Stokes being the only “no” vote.

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