Port Orchard gets everything it hoped for from state budget —

Port Orchard gets everything it hoped for from state budget

By Chris Henry
Kitsap Sun

PORT ORCHARD — City officials are elated over state budget allocations totaling nearly $4.5 million that will allow for completion of three major recreation projects.

The city learned Friday that it received $3.5 million, the entire amount requested, in the state transportation budget for construction of the Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway.

Also funded were phase II of improvements to the DeKalb Pier, with $500,000 from the state capital budget, and phase II of McCormick Village Park, with $386,000 from the Recreation and Conservation Office. Another $105,750 from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program will allow for purchase of a small but key property along the Bay Street Pedestrian Pathway.

“We’re just ecstatic,” Mayor Tim Matthes said. “We’re totally being blessed by this Legislature all at once.”

Matthes credits aggressive lobbying on the part of the city and support from legislators in the 26th District, including Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, Rep. Jesse Young, R-Gig Harbor, and Rep. Michelle Caldier, R-Port Orchard.

The allocations, especially the $3.5 million for Bay Pathway, exceeded expectations for Public Works Director Mark Dorsey.

“I was surprised and grateful to see the pathway project in the funded transportation budget,” he said. “This falls right in line with what we need to complete the remaining segments.”

The city has been struggling for at least five years to fund the paved bike and pedestrian pathway along Bay Street and Beach Drive from downtown to Annapolis. Two segments in and near downtown have been built, and construction is to start this summer on a bridge segment over Blackjack Creek, thanks to a 2013 capital budget allocation.

Concern from Beach Drive residents whose homes lie in the proposed pathway delayed the city moving forward with other segments, as did lack of construction funding. The City Council agreed to build around any property owner unwilling to sell, and the city has $1.5 million in federal funds to acquire the homes and complete the design.

The $3.5 million is the last large piece the city needed to fall into place. Given right of way acquisition and finalizing designs, the earliest construction could start on the Beach Drive segment is 2017, Dorsey said. With the foot ferry to Bremerton, the pathway will give Port Orchard a multimodal connection with Seattle, he said.

The $105,750 from the capital budget will allow the city to buy a 1.7-acre property between Comfort Inn, the current owner, and Marlee Apartments. The city will acquire tidelands beyond the 20-foot easement for the path, allowing a possible park bench and landscaping.

The city also received $500,000 from the state’s capital budget to complete improvements to Dekalb Pier, including replacement and extension of the pier and floating dock structure. The dock now bottoms out on the mud at low tide and doesn’t meet standards of the state Department of Natural Resources.

“This will create a suitable location for public day-use moorage in the heart of downtown Port Orchard,” Matthes said.

The $500,000 allocation is in addition to a 2013-15 appropriation of $255,000 that the city was not able to use due to lack of full funding for the project. The $255,000 was reallocated in the 2015-17 capital budget.

The city in 2013 received more than $700,000 for the DeKalb Pier from the capital budget to design both phases of the dock renovation and complete phase I, which included an upgrade to the standing pier with new lighting, benches and a handicap-accessible ramp.

The $386,000 Recreation and Conservation Office parks grant will allow the city to complete improvements at McCormick Village Park, including extension of the perimeter pathway, construction of a wetland boardwalk, addition of a small playground, picnic shelter, landscaping, signs and interpretive kiosks.

The grant requires a 50 percent match, which the city has covered by paying for design and phase I construction, in part through development impact fees.

Creation of the public park came about through an agreement between Gem I, developers of McCormick Woods, and the county. The city acquired the 40-acres of park land during annexation of McCormick Woods in 2009. Because of wetlands, buffers and steep slopes, only 22 acres are slated for development.

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