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Community members gather for boardwalk update

Manette and downtown residents listened to a presentation on plans for the extended boardwalk project Tuesday night and the consensus was they liked what they heard.

Public Works director Phil Williams gave the PowerPoint presentation and also spoke from his experience in the early stages of the project, answering questions from the dozen District 3 and 4 constituents welcomed by council members Adam Brockus and Wendy Priest, along the way.

Turnout was light at the Bremerton Senior Center but the audience engaged the topic fairly actively.

Williams expressed one of his favorite aspects of the project was allowing public access to the shoreline, a rarity in Kitsap County. Of 228 miles of shoreline in the county, he said, just 5.6 percent is publicly accessible. The project increases Bremerton’s accessible waterfront 40 percent.

“This seeks to give everyone access to more of that shoreline, not just those that can afford waterfront property,” Williams said. “(Accessibility) is a huge factor. Waterfront is getting really expensive. It’s really not affordable for most people, let’s face it.”

Williams also pointed out that much-desired cleanup along the the shoreline will be part of the project, with rubble from concrete pilings that currently litters the beach to be removed.

“As a result, the Chevron property will actually get remediated,” he said of the plot of land adjacent to Evergreen Rotary Park.

Slides showed both earlier renderings of an all-wood boardwalk and sections of concrete with wood railings more like the all-weather materials that will actually be used for durability purposes.

Williams stated the boardwalk is among three projects “we’re trying to package ... and build synergies between” along with the Evergreen Park expansion and sewer upgrades.

The sewer system has been an ongoing problem with periodic spills requiring emergency response, with Public Works often unable to access the source of the problem, Williams said. Improvements allowing better accessibility to the sewers would come along with the boardwalk, he said, shifting the focus to areas of concern.

Ensuring sewer odors do not become a problem on the boardwalk will be delicate work and increased difficulty for property owners in maintaining current seawalls also will be an issue to consider as the project moves along. Williams said the city may need to increase the boardwalk’s height or put in a costly removable piece to allow that access.

Costs are hard to nail down, Williams said, as design is far from complete but the city has gained nearly $2.5 million from property sales earmarked for getting the project started and a ballpark figure of $13.5 million was tossed around at the meeting.

Near the meeting’s conclusion, Williams asked the audience if they thought the city should move forward with the ambitious project. Every audible response was a “yes.”

“The pictures are dynamic,” said Greg Wheeler, a 46-year resident of Bremerton. “Synergy is the right word. It’s exciting ... seeing growth like we’ve only seen around World War II (in the city).”

Brockus was pleased to hear the input from a small, but lively crowd.

“This is the first time someone has asked whether we’ll close it at night or keep it open 24/7,” he said.

Williams concluded it will most likely remain open all hours as the current boardwalk is.

“What I enjoy most about this project is that we are expanding Evergreen Park,” Brockus said.

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