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Navy's parking garage opens
After breaking ground a little more than a year ago, the Navy parking garage at Fourth Street and Park Avenue is nearly complete with a ribbon-cutting Tuesday marking the ceremonial opening.
Boasting about 1,000 spaces, the facility replaces the same amount that were eliminated within Naval Base Kitsap (NBK) as a security measure following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks more than four years ago.
Obviously, 9/11 changed our world. We were attacked behind our own borders ... and we had to quickly adjust, said Capt. Reid Tanaka, commanding officer of NBK and master of ceremonies for Tuesdays event. We had to create buffers to protect facilities ... and those buffers do not allow vehicles. This structure serves as a vital need to the Navy base ... its more than just a parking garage.
Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman echoed that sentiment, noting the impact on downtown streets of the move of shipyard workers vehicles into the garage.
The city benefits. We do fully expect retail is going to come back to the downtown of our city and this frees up parking.
Everybody won on this project. It wasnt easy, but everybody won, Bozeman said. Its a monument to people working together. It took all of us working together to pull this together. It shows what we can do when we work together on something.
The project initially slated to cost slightly less than $10.8 million came in at $12 million when all was said and done, according to Lt. Cmdr. John Daniels, public affairs officer for Navy Region Nothwest.
Daniels added that the ribbon-cutting had once been planned for a point in time about three weeks later but was moved up to accommodate U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks (D-Belfair) and his busy schedule. Dicks role on several Congressional committees was vital to securing funding for the construction of the garage.
Its been fun to work with the Navy and people Ive known all of my life on the restoration of Bremerton, Dicks said. (The garage) will make an important contribution to (shipyard) personnel and the City of Bremerton. Clearly, the future is bright.
The garage covers about 1.8 acres of property where a Payless drugstore, the Bremerton Antiques Gallery and the Olympic College continuing education center once stood.
It certainly looks better than the old Payless building, said Capt. Dan Peters, commander of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance facility. There are growls and groans as (workers) come and go to work and this facility is going to help with that.
The parking relief will be in full effect by the end of January as the Navy is phasing in parking permits for the facility 200 at a time. Tanaka cited a few finishing touches necessary for the completion of the facility and the desire to give the Bremerton Police Department a chance for a more gradual transition in handling the change in traffic patterns caused by the new facility for the approach.
Tanaka also addressed the possibility of public use of the garage in teh future.
The Navy and the city are both interested in those possibilities, Tanaka said. There have been preliminary discussions.
Tanaka said he expects talks on that matter to intensify in the spring, probably March 2006.
Recently installed Navy Region Northwest Commander Rear Adm. William French has been impressed with the community partnership on display in Kitsap County.
This is a phenomenal opportunity, French said. You cant ask for better cooperation from the community.