Opinion

Bremerton: Now’s the time

It doesn’t take much to see that Bremerton has its problems. All cities do. But in the case of Bremerton, things are very obvious.

Just look at downtown. There’s not a lot there. Empty storefronts are everywhere. Up and down Fourth Street, windows are filled with “For Rent” signs.

Around the corner, a great antique store that used to draw folks downtown, is gone.

To be fair, there are some great restaurants, a movie theater, a couple of coffee shops, and several art galleries. And there’s always the museums, which are great draws for visitors.

But there is something seriously lacking for anyone who goes downtown to shop. No department store. Few clothing stores at all. Not even a good bookstore. These are the things that would draw residents to downtown. Even a nice card and gift store would be helpful for those who work in offices in the area and need to run out on their lunch break for a gift.

Instead, downtown Bremerton has become a hub for social services, the Navy shipyard and the place to catch the ferry.

Indeed, with the social services offices, come people with a host of issues. Recently, a large real estate firm moved out of downtown because employees and customers were tired of dealing with obscene gestures and dirty needles.

Almost every week, photos are posted on Facebook pages showing the used hypodermic needles that have been found in downtown Bremerton.

Right now, it doesn’t look good for Bremerton. Anyone thinking about relocating to Bremerton wouldn’t find its downtown to be the kind of place they’d want to frequent.

But all that can change.

Within the next couple of months, residents in Bremerton have an opportunity to decide the city’s future. Elections are at hand and there’s open city council seats. And, the mayor’s position also is on the ballot.

Residents of Bremerton need to go to the candidates for office and ask them for the specifics of their plans to re-invent downtown Bremerton.

Find out how these candidates plan to balance the social services that are located in the area with the need to have a welcoming downtown with a vital retail core.

Sure, the waterfront is beautiful and there’s a great sense of tranquility to the fountains in the park. A Sunday farmers market is great and Friday music concerts add something. But there’s got to be more.

Ask candidates for their ideas and evaluate how realistic they are. Discuss what will and won’t work, what’s affordable and what’s not. And give Bremerton’s future to those who you trust will make the city better.

 

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