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Delilah visits downtown, scopes out paint prospects

Nationally known radio personality Delilah Rene kicked the plan to repaint downtown Port Orchard up a notch on Wednesday, visiting Bay Street and taking pictures of specific eyesores that could benefit from renovation.

“Look at the rust and the broken tiles here,” she said, outside one building. “This could easily be cleaned up, fixed up and made to look absolutely gorgeous.”

At the heart of the matter is Delilah’s assertion that downtown Port Orchard is “butt ugly,” a comment that prompted some downtown defenders to take offense.

While admitting that the comment “got me into a little bit of trouble,” she stands behind the statement.

“It’s ugly, there is no other way to put it,” she said. “When the paint is cracked and the buildings are falling apart and there are three or four different colors slapped on, it’s butt ugly.

“I didn’t say that any of the people were butt ugly,” she said. “I just said the paint jobs were butt ugly. Downtown has a lot of potential, and a lot of charm. It just needs to be dressed up and made to look beautiful.”

Delilah walked the length of Bay Street shooting pictures to be posted on a new Web site, in order to present a “before and after” comparison.

The idea of painting Port Orchard first emerged in a discussion between Delilah and Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola, at which point she offered to pay for the paint.

This offer was amended to say she would contribute a share and raise funds from other parties, and led to negotiations with local hardware merchant Scott McLendon to get a discount on the paint.

McLendon is also working with Delilah to develop a “maritime” color palette, from which individual building owners will be able to choose.

After the selection, the plan is to close Bay Street for a day, during which time volunteers would paint the buildings’ surfaces.

Coppola previously announced that the effort would take place on the weekend of Aug. 1. This proposal generated immediate opposition from downtown merchants, who maintained that Saturday is their busiest day and the time they cannot afford to close.

Coppola met this week with Downtown Merchants Association president and Moondogs Too owner Darryl Baldwin, determining that the street will only be closed on Aug. 2.

All prep work and color selection will be complete prior to that time.

In another move to assauge the feelings of those who were not consulted prior to the public announcement, Delilah has teamed with downtown merchant Mallory Jackson to hold a public meeting of merchants and citizens to explain the project.

The meeting, with a date and time to be announced, will take place after the holiday.

In the meantime, Delilah said she intended to approach all the downtown property owners directly, with a request to allow their buildings to be painted free of charge.

Of those, Mansour Samadpour, who owns six large buildings, has signed on to the project according to Delilah. This includes a large, vacant building at the corner of Bay Street and Frederick, which Delilah has leased and plans to turn into a clothing store.

Fred Karakas, who owns the Olympic Bike Shop and two adjacent stores, said he had not been approached to repaint but was open to the idea.

“I’ve repainted a few times over the years,” he said, “but if someone wants to help me paint again I’ll go along with it.”

His neighbor Ken Kalberg is also accommodating and will accept painting help, as long as Delilah agrees to Kalberg’s black-and-white design plan.

One of the buildings in need of repair houses the Orchard Theater, and is owned by former Port Orchard City Councilman Bob Geiger.

“The theater needs help,” Delilah said. “It needs to be painted a really beautiful sea coast color.”

Geiger said that the proposal “sounds like a good deal” and that he would agree to allowing a paint job “as long as competent professionals were involved and they had some references that said they knew what they were doing.”

During her downtown tour, Delilah pointed out Kalberg’s building as a specific example of a run-down front, a characterization with which Kalberg agrees.

Still, if she offers a color other than white, it is likely that Kalberg will decline to participate.

This, according to Delilah, is not a problem.

“We are not going to make anyone participate,” she said. “Nobody will be forced to do anything they don’t want to do.”

This message was lost on Kalberg, who said, “If she tries to paint my building, I will sue.”

This skewering of the truth results from poor communication between Delilah, the merchants and the city, and has resulted in some ill feeling between all parties.

This has developed from a disagreement to outright personal attacks, including one deleted comment on the Port Orchard Independent website that criticized Delilah’s physique and her children.

“It hurts,” she said of the personal comments. “These people don’t even know anything about me and they attack me for no reason. I don’t understand why people want to be unkind and cruel.

“I just want to make the town spectacular for (Debbie Macomber’s) Cedar Cove Days,” she said. “Why is that controversial? Why is that a bad thing, that someone thinks they have to attack me over?”

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