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Two-year stay in the works for Scouts, Camp Fire

It looks as though the Girls Scouts and Camp Fire USA may have at least two more years before they have to vacate their post at 11th Street and Warren Avenue.

News of a pending agreement between the city and the two service organizations prefaced Wednesday’s public hearing with the Bremerton City Council. The hearing, the first of two, was to determine whether the property including the scout hall and tennis courts should be sold and make way for street improvements at that intersection. Money from the sale of the tennis courts would be funneled to other parks projects.

Under the new lease agreement, the groups could stay in the scout hall at least two years, but no more than three, which is when the improvement project would start.

A contingent of Scouts and Camp Fire members said while they appreciate the offer, they wanted to set the record straight.

“We really hope the city will consider that lease and approve it,” said Kathy Thayer, membership manager for the Girl Scouts Totem Council. She said the hall is used days, nights and weekends and it being “rent free” is a technicality.

“We’ve always taken responsibility for the upkeep of the lodge,” she told the council. In the past five years about $25,000 in improvements — including a new roof, heat pumps and doors – have been made to the building.

“It’s loss is an exceptional hardship to our organizations,” said Karen Aoyama, program director for the Camp Fire USA Central Puget Sound Council. The groups have used the 1930s-era building for the past 60 years.

“We’ve enhanced the value of the building and contributed to the value of the neighborhood,” Aoyama said.

Ron Van Hollenbeke, a member of the Bremerton Kiwanis said the club built the hall in 1938 and it has been a source of pride for them.

“I’d hate to see that building torn down,” he said.

According to a parks and recreation commission report issued March 10, “(The property) has minimal usage and provides little direct value to the parks system.”

The commission supported the sale of the property for development that was not part of the right-of-way improvements. Those improvements include a sidewalk, separate bike lane, and landscaping.

The second public hearing is scheduled for April 19 at the council’s regular meeting. The council is expected to vote on the lease agreement prior to its vote on selling the property at the April 19 meeting.

In other business, the council approved 5-2 to continue a moratorium on development more than 40 feet on Highland and Pleasant Avenues between Sixth and 11th Streets. The moratorium was scheduled to end April 13. The action allows the council time to review and vote on proposed design guidelines which is scheduled for April 19.

In a pre-council study session, council members discussed the Bremerton Police Department’s west precinct location as a possible site for the court building. Economic Development Director Gary Sexton informed the council topographical study and testing for hazardous material should be done on the site if the council were to proceed in that direction.

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