Coppola to port: ‘We need money'

When Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola and Port of Bremerton Commissioner Cheryl Kincer met for lunch in Keyport on Tuesday, the first thing she said to him was, “Our relationship has gotten off track. How can we fix this?”

“I think it was to her credit that she said this,” Coppola said, recalling the conversation. “We both recognized that the press and the public think we don’t get along. That couldn’t be further from the truth.”

The port and the city have locked horns over a variety of issues since Coppola took office, including sewers and the South Kitsap Industrial Area (SKIA).

Most recently, Coppola’s request for port money in order to build Port Orchard’s new parking garage caused controversy between the two jurisdictions.

Coppola later called the disagreement “a tempest in a teapot.”

The Coppola-Kincer collegiality resulted in one action item, as discussed at the port meeting on Tuesday night.

Coppola is to prepare at least one “white paper” for the port about what the city expects and what it can give back.

The first item, coincidentally enough, is money to build the downtown parking garage.

“The parking garage is the most important project in downtown Port Orchard,” Coppola said. “Once the garage is done, we can look into doing other things, like getting the boat launch repaired.”

Coppola said the disposition of a port-owned parking lot across from City Hall also needs to be addressed. He would like to see its ownership revert to the city and turn it into a waterfront park.

Coppola’s message to the port is simple: “Give us some money. The more the better.” 

He hopes that the port will foot half the tab for the project.

The cost for its first phase of the project, which includes excavation, is estimated at $24 million in 2008 dollars.

The estimate for the entire project, which includes a relocated library facility and space for retail, is $35.5 million.

Coppola said that he has a “very cordial” relationship with Kincer, but is not yet committed in her re-election contest.

Accordingly, he has not made a decision about the capabilities of Roger Zabinski, who is Kincer’s presumed election opponent, but he appeared to put Zabinski on the spot during an impromptu city council appearance on Tuesday night.

Councilman Jerry Childs recognized Zabinski in the audience and asked if he would like to address the council.

Coppola then asked what Zabinski would do specifically for Port Orchard.

“I have a lot to learn about the issues down here,” Zabinski said. “There is a lot of infrastructure that needs to be put in place, and we need to make some improvements downtown and help the businesses take advantage of mixed use opportunities.”

Coppola said, “Can you be more specific?” before being interrupted by Childs, who said to Zabinski, “I’m sorry I did this to you.”

“You are here to talk about (issues), and that’s what interests us,” Coppola said.

Later, Coppola said that he had met with Zabinski after his declaration announcement, at which point he asked what the candidate would do for Port Orchard.

“I was just trying to see if he had thought about what we had discussed,” Coppola said. “Obviously, he hadn’t.”

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