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CK Fire & Rescue approves beams transfer

Two steel beams from the World Trade Center site that now sit at Evergreen Rotary Park will soon officially be the property of the city of Bremerton.

At its meeting Monday, the board of Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue, which is the legal owner of the beams, voted to allow its chairman, Dave Fergus, to sign documents transferring the ownership to the city of Bremerton.

“Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue has been the custodian of the 9/11 beams since they were given to us by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Fergus said. “I am aware that a document is being prepared by the Port of New York and New Jersey that will transfer ownership to the city of Bremerton which will be the sole owner and be fully responsible for their upkeep.”

In order for that to happen, Fergus asked the board to allow him to sign that document once he receives it. The board voted unanimously to give him that authority.

The beams are a part of the 9/11 memorial that were dedicated Wednesday on the 12th anniversary of the terrorist attacks in New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania.  A local group, the 9/11 Memorial Committee, has been fundraising for several years to build the memorial. The beams were brought to Kitsap County through the efforts of Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue when it became known that pieces of the World Trade Center buildings destroyed in New York City were being given away by the Port Authority to groups it deemed to be appropriate. Sandstone remains from the part of the Pentagon also were given away.

Since they artifacts arrived in Kitsap County, there had been debate about where they should be located, until the city of Bremerton agreed on the beams being placed in Evergreen Park. But city officials promised that no tax dollars would be used to place them or for the upkeep of the memorial.

The 9/11 Committee raised more than $100,000 to create the memorial and some of that money remains for the short term care of the memorial. But Bremerton city officials have recently been questioned about how the memorial will be maintained throughout its life.

Fergus seemed to have the answer on Monday.

“There’s a plan in the works,” he said. “The city of Bremerton will continue to honor its pledge that no tax dollars will be spent on this.”

Fergus said that the city is working with VFW Post 239 in Bremerton to cover the costs of maintaining the memorial.

“The VFW enthusiastically embraces that idea,” Fergus said. “The accusation that’s out there - that we wouldn’t provide a way for them to be maintained - is unfounded.”

Fergus said he doesn’t anticipate any problems with the Port Authority agreeing to the transfer to the city of Bremerton and thinks it will happen within a matter of days.

Commissioners also unanimously passed the limited access roadways, bridges and culverts policy that has been debated for two months.

The policy calls for private property owners with bridges and culverts that are more than 24 inches in diameter to have them inspected to determine that they can hold the weight of large department vehicles that weigh up to 60,000 pounds. If they are deemed secure by a licensed structural engineer,  the fire department will post that and trucks will cross when emergencies happen. If not, fire department officials will do their best to fight fires and respond to emergencies on foot or with lighter weight vehicles.

The district has identified 91 bridges and 44 culverts that need inspecting.

Commissioners heard comments from property owners at two hearing in July and August.

Fire Chief Scott Weninger said the need for the policy is to protect equipment and employees.

While there has not been any incidents of private bridges falling in under the weight of a fire vehicle in the district, Weninger said it has happened in Gig Harbor and other places across the nation. He said the matter has been a safety concern in the Central Kitsap district for years.

Commissioner Dick West said he’s been aware of the concern for more than 30 years.

“It’s been a issue for a long time,” West said, after voting for the policy. “We just can’t afford to lose apparatus or personnel for that matter.”

Weninger said the district will now begin the process of notifying affected property owners. He anticipated that the policy will officially go into affect Jan. 1, 2014.

The fire district is preparing letters and a packet with information that will be mailed to the roughly 400 households that are affected by the new policy. The packets will include information about the new policy and a check list for engineers to use when inspecting structures.

In another matter, commissioners hired Ken Bagwell, a Silverdale attorney to be the district’s legal advisor. He replaces Rick Gross, who retires at the end of the month. Gross has been the district’s legal advisor since 1984.

 

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