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Government center likely headed for superior court

"A superior court judge likely will determine the immediate future of a proposed joint government center in Bremerton.But whatever the judge to be named later decides, the county and the city of Port Orchard will have the right to appeal.Kitsap County and Port Orchard officials have been discussing for weeks how to go about asking a judge if relocating several offices to a consolidated government center in downtown Bremerton constitutes moving the county seat from Port Orchard.The sticking point has been whether the judge's decision should be final, or if it could be appealed. Port Orchard Mayor Jay Weatherill has held out for the right to contest a decision, but the county has insisted both stick with the judge's ruling, whatever it might be.The Kitsap County Commissioners backed off that request Tuesday, saying they want to work with Port Orchard to achieve a fair and expeditious resolution.Because the county wants to continue to work with the city in resolving our differences, we agree that both the city and the county will retain their right to appeal a superior court's decision if they are firmly convinced that it is legally incorrect, Commissioner Chris Endresen wrote in a letter to Weatherill. It is our sincere hope, however, that an appeal will not be used merely as an instrument to stop or delay the governance center project.Weatherill said he was pleased with the county's response and is looking forward to reaching a resolution.We've been waiting awhile, he said Wednesday, July 18.The county and the city legal counsels are expected to contact each other as soon as possible to outline the issues to be presented in court. They also will try to agree when to submit the question to a judge. Lastly, they will try to select an impartial judge.Endresen wrote that the commissioners hope the process will cordial, even though one party will be named defendant and the other the plaintiff.Given this requirement, we believe it is most appropriate for the county to be named as the defendant, wrote Endresen. It is our hope that the city will join us in explaining to our citizens that this is a formality and that the county and city are committed to an expedient and amicable resolution to this question.The proposed $35 million city-county government center would be built near the intersection of Sixth Street and Pacific Avenue in Bremerton. "

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