Boardwalk is gaining believers in Olympia —

Boardwalk is gaining believers in Olympia

Steven Gardner, Kitsap SUN, Aug. 27, 2006

By Steven Gardner, for the Kitsap Sun

August 27, 2006

A $2.8 million boost could let work on the Bremerton waterfront link begin by 2010.

BREMERTON - A new overwater boardwalk in Bremerton looks like a strong possibility.

Bremerton officials announced this past week that the city likely will receive about $2.8 million in grant funding from the state.

The city ranked high on priority lists for three grants with the state’s Interagency Committee for Outdoor Recreation, including a $2 million grant from a trails program.

"I think this was the breakthrough that we were looking for," Mayor Cary Bozeman said. The mayor said people have discussed a boardwalk for decades, but the money coming in for it now brings it closer to reality.

The project originally was funded by close to $2.5 million from the city using money from the sale of the East Park property. Then the state authorized a low-interest $3 million Public Works Trust Fund loan for the sewer line portion of the project.

Phil Williams, public works director, said the city now has about $9 million for the project, which a year ago was estimated to cost about $13 million.

The boardwalk project would create an overwater walkway also suitable for bikers between Evergreen-Rotary Park and the downtown marina.

Williams describes the overall plan as three projects. One is the boardwalk. Second is sewer line improvements to prevent the kind of problems the city has experienced with the shoreline sewer lines. Finally, it’s the transformation of former Chevron property to add to the south end of Evergreen-Rotary Park.

The multiple purposes for the project have made it suitable for grant funding for different reasons, but it’s also been a complicating factor in trying to get that money.

Wyn Birkenthal, the city’s parks director, said he and staff got a couple of trial runs making presentations to the state’s recreation committee a couple months before the final presentation. Things didn’t always go well.

"We got beat up in one of those," Birkenthal said.

The problem was taking all the elements of the overall project and making it follow a logical sequence, he said.

Birkenthal and Williams admitted they didn’t expect to have success with any of the recreation grant requests, figuring it would at least give the city experience in applying.

The city worked with Grant-Solutions and Parametrix to prepare grant work and presentation preparation, but Birkenthal said he worried they might be asking for too much. With the trails grant, there was $7 million available, and Bremerton was asking for nearly 30 percent of it.

By the time city staff made its final presentation to the committee, however, they had found a way to tell the story understandably. Once that happened, it became a project state committee members were ready to back.

As a result, the city ranked at the top in the trails category, and high in the two other categories. The allocations still need legislative approval, but the Legislature typically doesn’t quibble with the committee’s recommendations. The amounts can change, Birkenthal said, but usually for those lower on the list.

The city council’s earlier decision to allocate East Park money for the boardwalk has allowed the city to pursue permitting work while it pursues the rest of the money. Williams said the price tag is likely to go up by the time the city has a design, but the existing $9 million gives the city more credibility in securing what’s left.

Williams said the city will pursue federal money, grants from private foundations and more state avenues. If funding and permitting go well, construction could begin around the end of the decade.

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Boardwalk Grant Funding

A look at three possible state sources to help Bremerton build an overwater boardwalk connecting Evergreen Rotary Park to the existing boardwalk.

Grant Amount

Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program — Trails $2 million

Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program — Local Parks $300,000

Aquatic Lands Enhancement Account $500,000

Source: City of Bremerton

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