SKIA flap shows city isn't going to take it anymore

Consider last week’s decision by the Kitsap County Boundary Review Board regarding Port Orchard’s desire to provide sewer service to the South Kitsap Industrial Area (SKIA) the first dividend in the city’s newfound Howard Biel strategy.

Biel, the unhinged TV newscaster in the Oscar-winning movie “Network,” is best known for bellowing, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” And after years of taking guff from its neighbors in Bremerton, that’s the tack Port Orchard has recently — and rightly — taken when it comes to SKIA.

The Jan. 8 ruling by the BRB did nothing more than reaffirm what anyone not wallowing in denial should already have understood — that a 1998 Memorandum of Understanding signed by Port Orchard, Bremerton, Kitsap County and the Port of Bremerton with respect to SKIA entitles all of the parties a seat at the table when it comes to disposition of the project.

Port Orchard officials first raised objections last year, when Bremerton moved to annex the site.

Port Orchard, however, didn’t want to annex SKIA itself, and since the city doesn’t share a contiguous border with SKIA, there’s no way it could have done so anyway. Consequently, leaving Port Orchard out of the annexation discussions was a largely symbolic gesture — albeit a meaningful one.

The sewer service issue, however, was entirely different, since Port Orchard not only covets the lucrative contract but has already spent millions of dollars to upgrade its Karcher Creek treatment facility with the expectation it would get it.

Whether or not Port Orchard is ultimately awarded the contract is a question for another day. But for the moment, it’s at least gratifying to see someone in authority actually point out that SKIA was intended to be developed as a partnership between all four signatories, and Bremerton can’t just brush Port Orchard aside — especially when the taxpayers over here have a considerable financial stake in the project’s outcome.

Port Orchard should be mad as hell, and it appears at last the city has decided it’s not going to take it anymore.

Howard Biel couldn’t have said it any better.

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