Politics & Government

Bremerton port asks Norm Dicks to help get nearly $10 million for garage, road

BREMERTON NATIONAL AIRPORT - U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, got the hard sell Tuesday from Port of Bremerton leaders who have asked for nearly $10 million in federal money for a parking garage and road.

Also, port Chief Executive Officer Cary Bozeman for the first time mentioned the possibility of as much as $2.5 million in bonding to help pay for the garage near the port’s Bremerton Marina.

When Bozeman was mayor of Bremerton, he worked closely with Dicks on downtown redevelopment. Now he seeks to build that same close relationship for the port.

"We’re trying to educate Norm about the workings of the port," Bozeman said. Port officials took Dicks to a couple of businesses in the port’s Olympic View Industrial Park, and then to an emerging road the port is building that will allow potential development of the almost-empty South Kitsap Industrial Area.

The road would go from Highway 3 around the north end of the Bremerton National Airport runway, and eventually to Old Clifton and Lake Flora roads.

About a mile of the road is nearly complete, funded by $2.6 million in federal stimulus money.

The port now has a request in through U.S. Sen. Patty Murray’s office for $4.5 million to fund the second of three phases of the 3.5-mile road. The money would get the road to within about a mile of Lake Flora Road. The money also would allow for design and environmental planning, but not construction, of the final phase.

The $4.5 million request would be part of the 2011 federal transportation budget.

The port believes it also will soon have in hand another $336,000 for the road from the Puget Sound Regional Council.

Bozeman hopes the work will be completed by 2012.

"This looks good; we’ll help," Dicks said as he walked around the roadwork site where asphalt is being laid this week. The road features pervious sections that allow rainwater to spread naturally.

A new Defiance Boats showroom and another boat building have just been constructed by SKIA landowner Stan Palmer near the almost-completed road section. It marks the first development in SKIA.

Port leaders didn’t mention to Dicks their disappointment that traffic improvements in Gorst were left off a priority list set by a recent state long-range transportation study. Any potential industries considering locating in SKIA would have to factor Gorst into their decision, since there is no promise of improvement for decades.

The port is also asking for $5 million for an underground parking garage, which would be located on an undeveloped piece of port property off Washington Avenue in downtown Bremerton. The garage would be close to Hampton Inn and Suites and new condominiums, as well as the port’s marina.

Bozeman’s vision, which he has yet to sell the commissioners on, is for the port to build as many as 400 parking spaces. One hundred would be for Bremerton Marina parking. The remaining would potentially be turned over to a private commercial developer who would build on top of the garage.

Bozeman estimates that the waterfront development would cost the port $7.5 million. If the $5 million in federal funds come through, that would leave the port looking for another $2.5 million. Bozeman said he anticipates recommending to commissioners that the port fund the rest through bonds, eventually paying them off from parking revenue the garage would generate.

Whether more bonding would fly with commissioners has yet to be seen.