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Cityhood leaders fear annexation by Bremerton

"Early in the cityhood discussion, proponents warned that Bremerton might try to annex its neighbor to the north if Silverdale fails to incorporate. The issue faded in the ensuing months, making way for discussion of taxes, schools and law enforcement. But it has made its way back in recent weeks as proponents make their final push for votes.Richard Sheak, president of Citizens for Silverdale, said the risk of Bremerton annexation has been on the horizon for a long time. He is primarily concerned with the Waaga Way corridor and the Tracyton neighborhood, which has a contract with the Bremerton Water District.In particular, Sheak pointed to Bremerton’s anemic downtown as the impetus for city officials to annex elsewhere for revenue.And the problem with that? For Sheak, Bremerton annexation would mean compromising the submarine base character of Silverdale for Bremerton’s shipyard style.“I believe there’s a distance in identity and character for the people who identify with Bremerton and Silverdale. It’s not that we can’t work together, but I believe the character of the communities are different,” Sheak said.But Bremerton Mayor Lynn Horton said incorporation proponents may be projecting their own hunger for Central Kitsap property. “You could look at the flip side of the coin - initially, when they looked at boundaries, they thought about coming down to Riddell Road,” Horton said. “They are probably coming from the other end, the city perspective, that was far too close to our boundaries.”Long-time incorporation proponent and Silverdale lawyer Bill Broughton said the Riddell boundary was only one of a few ideas kicked around. “There were a lot of different scenarios that were available for our original incorporation area. ... We went and sat down with the mayor and talked with her about where Bremerton saw the reasonable boundary for Silverdale being, and she said Fairgrounds Road. We took her concerns in to account” with the current proposal.Horton suggested Silverdale leadership and Bremerton city officials hunker down and carve out the map before fisticuffs break out. “Somewhere in the future, Silverdale will incorporate. Whether it is today or five years from now should know where that boundary should be.“The pertinent parties need to sit down and look at the service delivery areas and to look and see where there are natural topographical breaks. We need to decide where the future boundary should be. Some place in the future, Bremerton and Silverdale will ultimately meet. If we do it in the next few years, nobody has to work about the other jurisdiction encroaching on them,” she said.“I agree with her that it makes some sense to figure out between the two entities where the line should be,” Broughton said. “Of course, that’s one of the reasons we talked about it with her at at the outset.”Broughton and Sheak both pointed to the tax rich territory of Waaga Way, particularly the Fred Meyer and WalMart properties, as battlegrounds for potential revenue turf wars. While taxes are important, Horton said Bremerton city officials are concerned about more than just revenue. “We have the Brownsville corridor, which hugely impacts the city of Bremerton transportation-wise. It is important for us to control that end of the transportation corridor.“It isn’t just tax base, it is having control on an areas that impacts our community greatly. It’s the number of housing units and continuing on with strip mall development - we would like some control or say. It is an issue but not the sole issue involved,” Horton said."

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