Vote on Bremerton's Conference Center funding could come Dec. 18

Seven months of deliberations will culminate next week when the Kitsap Public Facilities District (PFD) board decides which group will receive an $11.5 million sales tax rebate to build a regional center.

The board has whittled the field of contenders down to two.

The PFD board will meet at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Dec. 17; a second meeting is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 18. Both meetings will take place in the Eagle’s Nest building on Fairgrounds Road.

Cris Gears, the director of the county Parks and Recreation Department, has proposed using the money for Fairgrounds improvements, including artificial turf and a new stage in Thunderbird Stadium, improving ball fields and a new equestrian facility.

Bremerton Mayor Lynn Horton has proposed using the funds to build a conference center on Sinclair Inlet. The funds originate from a .033 sales tax rebate permitted by Washington law,

Construction of the facility must commence before Jan. 1, 2003.

McCormick Land Company in South Kitsap and the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce also proposed conference centers but were eliminated.

The Kitsap County Fairgrounds is assured of getting some of the money, the board has determined. Still to be decided is whether the board will divide the money between the two projects. That decision will hinge on a design feasibility study for the Bremerton project, which Horton is set to present Monday.

To qualify for the rebate, the facility must serve a regional population and cost at least $10 million, including debt service. One-third of the facility’s cost must be matched by the group proposing the project.

Meanwhile, two men have applied to fill the position for the PFD board left vacant when Cary Bozeman was elected mayor Bremerton.

As of Dec. 13, Steve Stagner, a mortgage banker with CitiMortgage Inc. in Silverdale, and former Bremerton Mayor Gene Nelson have applied. County Commissioner Jan Angel was to select a new member after press time on Friday, Dec. 14.

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