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Courts likely to go to Eighth Street

The search for a new site of Bremerton’s municipal courts is hitting the home stretch and sentiment among the City Council seems to focus that search toward Eighth Street.

During an informational session Monday, city attorney Roger Lubovich briefed the council on the three options currently on the table: the former CenCom building, space on the corner of Eighth Street and Park Avenue and an Eighth Street mid-block site.

“Staff is looking for a direction,” Lubovich said.

The attorney provided cost comparisons between the three sites with CenCom coming in about $500,000 less expensive than the Eighth and Park site and its approximately $2.1 million price tag with the mid-block option squarely in the middle.

Lubovich also presented costs for each site with a 6,740 square-foot building and a 7,000 square-foot option with the difference about $50,000 for each site.

He also shared his personal leanings toward CenCom or Eighth and Park as the mid-block site comes with the potential for environmental cleanup work at an unknown price as it sits near a former dry cleaning facility that has already required work.

Councilman Will Maupin pointed out the need to consider that the $500,000 difference is really a moot point when the city would be selling the CenCom land, potentially to neighboring Olympic College, to help pay for putting the courts at another sight if one of the Eighth Street options is chosen.

Also, Lubovich wrote among the cons for the CenCom site that its location creates traffic problems and it may have hidden costs involved with traffic mitigation.

Any one of the picks comes with a high price in comparison with the city’s budget for the move. Mayor Cary Bozeman indicated there will be multiple property sales to pay for the move during his report to the council Wednesday.

“Each of these still has a significant amount of money (needed) to move the location,” said Laura Lyon, director of financial services for the city.

Plus, there will need to be a double move, with the courts finding a temporary home between leaving the former City Hall building on Fourth Street, which has been sold, and moving into its new home, wherever that may be.

“There’s no way we can have this done by Feb. 1,” Lubovich said.

Lyon said the temporary move comes with a price tag of $25,000 just to physically move paperwork and personnel.

Plus, Jonna Koehn, courts manager, pointed out, the temporary space will require a locked, secure clerks area and a jury area separate from the courtroom itself.

“As long as we know there’s light at the end of the tunnel, we won’t whine too much wherever we go,” Koehn said.

Council president Cecil McConnell informally called for council members’ opinions and got a clear message in favor of an Eighth Street site and against the former CenCom for purposes of looking long-term.

“If it costs a little bit more to do it right and think ahead 50 years, we should do it,” said councilwoman Wendy Priest.

“I don’t want the council to do something and have buyer’s remorse five years later,” McConell said.

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