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In our opinion: Out of the Westpark Woods
When we talk of Bremerton’s revitalization, usually to argue whether it has been equitable or worth the money and effort, Westpark is typically not mentioned.
We talk about condos, a tunnel and a monolithic city hall paying tribute to the sitting Congressman, mostly the tunnel.
Hidden behind a tall stand of trees, hemmed in by State Highway 3 and Kitsap Way, Westpark was not as visible to those foreign to Kitsap sands.
In fact, through design or accident, the World War II-vintage housing project was invisible even to many who live in Bremerton.
When the exodus began in April 2008, more than 500 families were living in Westpark. Without considering the public money spent, this project, radical in its vision, has affected and will affect more people, more intimately, than all the lattes served by the ferry terminal Starbucks.
The leveling of the old housing project was completed April 19, the last vestige of Westpark was erased. Nothing remains, not even the name. The new development – mixed-income, to not repeat the mistake of piling poor people on top of each other – is called Bay Vista.
Westpark had many problems, not the least the hasty housing units not meant to last 60 years. But 60 years is a long time. In 60 years a lot of people with nowhere else to turn called it home. In its future incarnation, only 25 percent of units will be set aside for affordable rental housing.
The new development won’t be as isolated, and hopefully not as isolating.
Last week volunteers cleared ivy from the trees along Kitsap Way. They removed trash and abandoned tires. The slice of the forest will be preserved as a park for the new residents.
The trails and trees will be open to anybody who wants to take a walk.