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Courts have new home

After hopping like a token on a “Monopoly” board, the Bremerton municipal courts landed on Park Avenue and passed “Go” Wednesday night.

A 7-1 decision by the City Council allows for the courts to move to a 26,000 square-foot parcel located at Eighth Street and Park Avenue, to be purchased from the Bremerton Housing Authority for $325,000.

The courts have previously been tabbed for the electric company (a Puget Sound Energy property at 10th and Park), not-so-free parking (the former US Bank building currently used as a parking lot), the bank (the Kitsap Credit Union site at Burwell and Warren) and the former CenCom building near Olympic College.

The Eighth and Park site provides “plenty of room for potential expansion in the future,” said City Attorney Roger Lubovich.

Potential contamination from a former dry cleaner near the site raised concerns about the site earlier in the process, but Lubovich said further studies have determined petroleum-based cleaning solvents, rather than more harmful chemical-based cleaners, were used at the site and are not a major concern.

The attorney also said any removal or recovery of some fuel tanks located on the property can be supported fully by EPA brownfields grants.

The property is appraised at $379,000, but BHA cut the cost to allow for the price tag involved with removing three houses currently located at the site.

A pair of council members shared praise for BHA in helping complete the deal.

“I wanted to thank BHA for being very accommodating ... during the purchase process,” said Councilman Will Maupin. “They were very helpful ... in working with the city.”

Councilman Mike Shepherd also was impressed by the housing authority’s accommodation during the process.

“Our long-term best interest is served in having a judicious system that is (strong),” Shepherd said. “It’s going to be a beautiful section of town.”

Maupin agreed that the location was just right.

“Our goal was to provide a facility that was close to police, close to other social services, close to the ferry ... and to the rest of downtown,” he said.

The site is almost directly across the street from the new downtown fire station on Park Avenue.

Councilman Brad Gehring was not present for the vote but Councilman Adam Brockus acknowledged his involvement in the decision process. Councilwoman Wendy Priest cast the lone dissenting vote.

“I’m really hesitant to approve a project that has surface parking,” Priest said.

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