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Navy eyes property on Pacific Avenue for security reasons

What do you think of having your business demolished and a security fence put up in its place?

That’s the question property owners and tenants along the west side of Pacific Avenue between Burwell and First streets might be forced to answer. The U.S. Navy is considering acquiring and demolishing buildings on that block to create a safety zone around the northeast corner of Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

Mary Anne Mascianica, PSNS public affairs officer, said nothing’s been decided.

“It’s not even a proposal yet. It’s just something they’re looking at,” she said. No property owners have been contacted at this stage, she added.

“I think they should leave it alone,” said Hyman Markrack of Camarillo, Calif. and Mercer Island. “Those buildings were there during World War II when there were all kinds of rumors of terrorist attacks ... but nothing happened.”

Markrack said his family has owned the building that includes the addresses 115-119 Pacific since 1930. The structure was built in 1913, according to information from the Land Title Co. of Kitsap County.

“I don’t want to put my tenant out,” said Markrack of McCall Music, which occupies 115 Pacific. The other addresses are vacant.

He said the property’s assessed value of $50,000 has been artificially depressed. It was worth up to $100,000 in the past, he said.

“Somebody’s trying to take it over” cheap, he commented.

The Bremerton Patriot’s call to Markrack was the first he’d heard of the tentative proposal. He was reached at his home in California. Markrack splits his residency between California and Washington.

Lou Ann Quast, co-owner of Old Wooly’s at the corner of Burwell and Pacific, said she has no opinion.

“We have no comment at this point because this is a non story,” she said. “When they (the Navy) come to us with an offer, then we’ll comment.”

Quast would only say that over the years, there have been “at least five” proposals to demolish Old Wooly’s.

“They talked about demolishing Wooly’s for the Gateway Project,” she said, adding that nothing came of that, and nothing will probably come of the latest proposal.

Bob Bachand, a mail man who rents a stall in Old Wooly’s Antique Mall, said he has mixed feelings.

“The sanctity of the shipyard is of the utmost importance,” he said. “But is this really going to give them the added safety they need for the money they’ll spend?”

Bachand, who’s had a stall at Old Wooly’s since the mall opened about three years ago, wondered if the loss of businesses on the block is worth the added security. He said he’d like to see some studies before demolition begins.

Louis Soriano of Soriano Investments has no objections. His company owns land with two parking lots along Pacific.

“If our country needs that property for security, our family’s all for it,” he said.

The Sorianos lease the lots, which provide about 100 parking spaces downtown, to Diamond Parking of Seattle.

Diamond Parking leases a third lot in that block from another land owner. The only person who could be reached at Diamond was the office manager at the company’s Seattle office, who said the company will not comment.

Clarke Whitney, Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce president, said he’d hate to see the businesses go.

“I understand security issues are important,” he said. “But my vision of that area was to have a parking complex with retail on the ground floor. If they just put up a fence, the city will lose a lot of tax revenue.

“We need to sit down with the Navy and find out what their plans are,” he said. A compromise might be worked out in which a safety zone is created with some parking.

Mayor Lynn Horton said it’s her understanding there would be no parking whatsoever, and she regretted the loss. But she also said the Navy wants to put something “attractive” in there, not just a chain link fence.

“I’m trying to set up a meeting with the Navy this week to see how it would be done,” Horton said on Monday. Proposals in the past have included creating a pedestrian mall or strip park.

“If the Navy buys up the property, we’ll find ways to relocate the businesses elsewhere downtown,” she said.

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