Health district to move downtown

New digs for the Bremerton-Kitsap County Health District are on the horizon.

The health board gave the district the go-ahead earlier this week to move to the $24 million government center proposed for downtown Bremerton at Pacific Avenue and Sixth Street.

The agency would occupy about 30 percent of the government building — thought to be key to the overall revitalization of the Bremerton waterfront — at a cost of $6.48 million to be paid over 30 years.

“I think Bremerton is going to be revitalized, and it is going to be so exciting,” said Kitsap County Commissioner Chris Endresen, who chairs the health board. “In five to 10 years, people are going to be standing in Bremerton and say, ‘You know, they did it.’ The only way for this to happen is for all agencies to be on the same page, as well as the private sector.”

With the health district’s commitment to move, the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority (KCCHA) can move ahead with the final design of the government building. Completion is scheduled for mid-2004, and the health district plans to move by the fall 2004. The project could go out to bid as early as this fall.

County Commissioner Tim Botkin who, along with Endresen, has advocated

for the redevelopment of downtown Bremerton, is pleased the project is moving along.

“(Redevelopment) is something I’ve continued to work on,” Botkin said. “The building is a part of that, but the other element is to get people down there working. It never has mattered who those people are, but that they are there and working.”

The health district has outgrown the space available at its Austin Drive location, which once served as a Navy barracks, officials said.

Other agencies to relocate include: Bremerton City Hall, KCCHA, the Bremerton branch of the Kitsap Regional Library, Bremerton Housing Authority and county agencies such as the Aging and Long-term Care office.

That brings the government building’s projected occupancy rate up to about 90 percent, according to KCCHA. State and federal offices could make up the difference, along with commercial businesses to serve the 350 -400 employees at the government building. The number of employees and the occupancy mix could changes as the project proceeds.

Health officials say the district’s budget can cover 80 percent of the move to the government building, and they are now ready to formally ask the City Council to make up the remainder of the cost.

Meanwhile, health officials will continue to pursue federal funds and federal grants to help pay for the move to the government building.

The district also could have as much as $500,000 in a facilities reserve fund by the end of this year.

Although the health district plans to relocate, client and clinic services at the district’s satellite offices will remain in their locations.

A Pierce County judge ruled in February the county can’t move any of its core offices to Bremerton because, in doing so, the county would effectively be moving the county seat. But the judge’s order didn’t preclude the county from transferring non-core functions to a satellite office.

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