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Increased cleanup costs create confusion Chevron property at Evergreen Rotary Park in Bremerton
Bremerton city councilors unanimously approved a $10,000 change order for ongoing restoration work at the former Chevron property at Evergreen Rotary Park.
The move got a lot of attention because the Chevron cleanup site has been designated as the future home of a Kitsap 911 Memorial that will feature steel from the World Trade Center. Memorial supporters ponied up a $4,500 donation to the city to use as a local match to a Department of Ecology grant to help clean up the site, but city officials have promised that no local taxpayer dollars will be contributed to the memorial.
The change order to a Talbot Excavating contract comes after crews found more concrete and other debris underground than was expected. Public Works Director Chal Martin told the council that approving the increased cost was time sensitive because hydro-seeding needs to be completed as soon as possible.
“If you try to hydro-seed later than mid-October, the weather is not conducive to establish the grass,” Martin said.
But, Bremerton resident and business owner Robert Parker expressed a common concern regarding the ongoing cleanup at the site as it relates to the long-stalled 911 memorial.
“The overall theme that I kept hearing, and that has been touted, was that the taxpayers weren’t going to have to pay for this memorial … What part of, ‘We’re not going to have to pay for this’ are we not understanding,” Parker said. “Maybe we should get real clear on what we are going to pay for and not pay for. At this point, I’m getting real confused and I pay close attention.”
Bremerton resident Todd Best, who is a former New York City firefighter, said that he left the 911 memorial committee due to accounting concerns and he urged the City Council to tread lightly because the New York and New Jersey port authorities have been explicit in warning that no taxpayer dollars be used for memorials that include Ground Zero materials.
But, Martin and members of the council insisted that the additional money, which will come from the DOE grant itself and not memorial funds, is being used to clean up the Chevron property and is not in any way a contribution to the memorial project.
Beyond concerns about the possible commingling of funds, at least one Bremerton resident, John Larson, had concerns about the change-order itself.
“This represents a 50 percent error in defining the scope of work in defining the contract,” Larson said.
Larson noted that the work is mostly done and needs to be paid for after the fact, representing a break down in the process.
Council President Jim McDonald originally placed the change order on the consent agenda a day ahead of the meeting, but it was moved to general business as a discussion item by Councilwoman Leslie Daugs.
During part of that discussion, Councilman Roy Runyon suggested that McDonald, who serves as a liaison between the council and 911 memorial project, work on creating a thorough breakdown of how much the group has raised and spent to date and what role the city has played so far.
Martin also noted that Bremerton Mayor Patty Lent has called for a new agreement between the city and memorial committee moving forward.