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KCCHA negotiating for governance center land
"The 30-day hold the Kitsap County Commissioners imposed in late May on land acquisition for a $33 million joint government center has expired, and the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority (KCCHA) is moving forward with planning for the downtown Bremerton project.KCCHA executive director Norman McLoughlin said last week he already has started land acquisition negotiations with a half-dozen property owners, including Washington Mutual Bank. The property is located primarily between Fifth and Sixth streets. Kitsap County already has committed up to $320,000 for studies and design work, which will be managed by the KCCHA.The commissioners voted 2-1 in May to proceed with planning, but also attempted to appease Port Orchard officials by imposing a month-long moratorium on land acquisition. Port Orchard officials oppose the move because of the potentially negative economic impact of transferring 270 county jobs from their city to Bremerton.Commissioner Tim Botkin said the county and city engaged in several informal discussion on how to mitigate the economic impacts on downtown Port Orchard. Talks also centered on how the city of Port Orchard could make up possible losses in sales tax revenue. Commissioner Jan Angel, who represents both South Kitsap and part of Bremerton, said she still has too many questions about the plan, including about traffic and congestion. Phase II planning is a concern to me because, if we're still in a study phase, then why are we buying the land now? said Angel. That doesn't make sense to me.Current plans call for the assessor, auditor, treasurer, county commissioners, administrative services and community development offices to move most operations to Bremerton. The commissioners still would conduct regular meetings at the Port Orchard courthouse.About 500 county employees, mostly in law and justice and public works departments, would remain in Port Orchard.The county has hired Seattle-based LMN Architects to help design the government center.The firm, which had a hand in construction of Benaroya Hall in Seattle, has proposed building two structures with a glassed-in central plaza, including civic areas and meeting rooms. A vertical landmark, such as a clock tower, bell tower or lighthouse, also has been discussed. "