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Citizens glimpse city's future

Everything was big Tuesday night before 225 people at the Admiral Theatre.

The big screen, filled with big ideas, presented by the big shots.

The Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce event was an update on redevelopment projects ongoing in downtown Bremerton.

Though politicians and officials used words like cooperation, teamwork and destiny to describe more than a half dozen projects, citizens were much more practical in commenting later.

“We need to be flexible enough so that if one big piece falls through, we don’t abandon the overall plan,” artist Alan Newberg said.

Mechanical engineer Chris Bell encouraged all the players involved in downtown Bremerton to stay focused, even if failure lurks.

“There is too much momentum for it not to be done,” Bell said. “The elements are all doable. If we lose one element, we cannot get discouraged or lose tenacity. It could all still happen with one piece missing.”

During an hour of presentations, updates were given:

l The $27-$33 million city/county government center at Sixth Street and Pacific Avenue awaiting a judge’s ruling on whether it amounts to a de facto move of the county seat from Port Orchard to Bremerton.

l A Port of Bremerton study leading to a possible decision on increasing boat slips from 50 to 190.

l A $7 million downtown conference center the city hopes will be funded by a Public Facilities District decision later this month using a state sales tax rebate. If that is successful, Mayor Lynn Horton said a hotel, restaurant and multiplex theater could be built near the conference center.

l A new maritime park with a relocated Bremerton Naval Museum and pedestrian-friendly security buffer along PSNS’ eastern edge bounded by Burwell Street, Pacific Avenue, First Street and the Bremerton Transportation Center.

l The Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority’s pending purchase of two properties at Burwell Street and Washington Avenue for apartments, condominiums, and retail shops.

l A Fehr and Peers (consulting group) representative also presented a parking study which showed adequate parking and traffic flow for any and all downtown redevelopment.

Outgoing Mayor Lynn Horton said the “recipe” for a successful Bremerton is a “24-hour city, where people are going about their business around the clock and feeling safe doing it.”

She said downtown residents need space to live, work and have recreation/entertainment opportunities.

“There is no silver bullet,” Horton said. “There is no single element that can revitalize Bremerton.”

Many citizens attending praised Horton.

“It’s going to happen, you can feel the momentum,” Bremerton resident Susan Bell said. “The pieces are coming together. I take my hat off to Lynn Horton. She got all the different factions together.”

Bremerton business woman Jackie Souza said the city is at a “turning point.” She said incoming Mayor Cary Bozeman must use his “outside contacts” to push forward many of Horton’s ideas.

“This is Bremerton’s chance,” Souza said.

Newberg said it is critical that politicians and citizens not get discouraged if one part of the current plan fails.

“If that court decision goes against the government center, is that enough to stop people’s belief in the project?” Newberg asked.

Newberg, a member of the Collection Visions Gallery, is not going anywhere.

“If I didn’t believe that we could have an active, vital downtown, I would have been gone a long time ago,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bozeman was introduced, but didn’t speak Tuesday.

On Wednesday morning Bozeman said,“there is no question that this is an era of opportunity for Bremerton. If we miss this, it will be unfortunate. We have this opportunity that most cities in the state don’t have right now and we need to seize on it.”

Bozeman said the city could be “turned around” in 10 years and credited the Horton administration with doing the groundwork.

“The table has been set, some good work’s been done, but now we have to push it over the top,” he said.

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