Finally something to talk about

After feeling a hot breeze blow out of the south across the Sinclair Inlet or perhaps it was the high pitched whine of crying over spilled milk, the city of Bremerton can now epitomize what country crooner Toby Keith termed “A little less talk and a lot more action.”

While Port Orchard city leaders and Kitsap County officials made Shakespearean “much ado about nothing” over the possibility that property owners in the South Kitsap Industrial Area might submit an annexation petition to the city of Bremerton, Bremerton city officials and staff wisely remained mute, waiting until an actual petition was presented before making public comment. Doing otherwise would have fed into the speculative fires, which while generating stories for print lacked any real substance.

The more prudent course of action would have been to watch and wait and not comment about something which until Tuesday afternoon was little more than pure conjecture and speculation. When SKIA property owner David Overton addressed the Bremerton City Council, not one single council member pulled out pompoms and expressed support for the possibility for annexation.

At the meeting of the minds in Port Orchard about two weeks ago, Port Orchard Mayor Larry Coppola brought his entire team to plead the city’s case for involvement in SKIA, while Bremerton sent only Council President Will Maupin to listen and observe the proceedings. There was no salesmanship from the city of Bremerton, because the city’s recent track record speaks for itself.

Few cities in the state of Washington and the Northwest region have been as successful as Bremerton at revitalizing a community that was near an economic abyss, and that success has garnered deserved state and national attention and recognition. Now what has Port Orchard done that equivalates to what Team Bremerton has done? Answers, anyone? Also, isn’t it the Bremerton National Airport and not the South Kitsap National Airport or the Port Orchard National Airport?

That’s not to say that Bremerton’s economic development director Gary Sexton, Congressman Norm Dicks and Mayor Cary Bozeman will be able to wave a green-colored wand and magically make 1,000s of living wage jobs appear in SKIA, but it would be pretty hard to bet against them making it happen sooner rather than later.

All that being said, it is important to remember that a petition doesn’t guarantee annexation and that before one single acre becomes city of Bremerton all of the details must be fleshed out including utility and other infrastructure issues. Potential is one thing; fulfillment of that potential is an entirely different matter.

The state’s Growth Management Act clearly dictates that land use planning must be done at the lowest level possible, which is the city level. It also states that Urban Growth Areas should be annexed by the city’s in closest proximity with the ability to provide the proper levels of essential services. Using those guidelines, since the city of Bremerton provides sewer service just across the road from SKIA and it is a city, what’s the only logical conclusion? Annexation into the city of Bremerton.

While it is the educated opinion of this newspaper that the city of Bremerton should indeed annex SKIA after a complete analysis of the area is completed, there is a long road ahead, and when it comes to that light at the end of the tunnel, it might just be a train.

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