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Silverdale proposal wins support at PFD hearing
"The occupancy rate of hotels in Kitsap County - 52 percent - is the second-lowest in the state, and building another hotel only would make matters worse, according to WestCoast Silverdale Hotel general manager Kevin Wojcik.He urged the Kitsap County Public Facilities District to select the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce's bid for a $9 million regional center during a meeting Monday, Aug. 13, at the Eagle's Nest building on Fairgrounds Road.Two rival proposals - from the city of Bremerton and McCormick Land Co. - include new hotels in their proposals, but Wojcik pointed out that the Silverdale Conference Center site already is within walking distance of three hotels.Wojcik was not alone in his opinion. Of the 34 people who offered comments at the PFD's public input meeting, 17 favored the Silverdale Chamber proposal.Four groups are competing for the money, a .033 sales tax rebate permitted by state law.McCormick, the Silverdale Chamber and the city of Bremerton have proposed building conference centers, and the Kitsap County Parks and Recreation Department proposed several improvements to the Fairgrounds.Seven people testified Monday in favor of the Bremerton proposal, five favored McCormick Woods and two backed the Fairgrounds. Some participants weighed in against a proposal without endorsing any. About 75 people attended the meeting.The Silverdale Chamber conference center proposal calls for a facility to be built on land east of the planned Old Mill site park on Bucklin Hill Road. Tex Lewis, co-chair of the Clear Creek Task Force, said the Silverdale site would create an opportunity to expand the Clear Creek Trail.We see the conference center as a perfect way to continue the trail and to provide a pedestrian-friendly environment, Lewis said.Those who supported the Bremerton plan argued that infrastructure like sewer, transportation and water lines are already in place, and that the facility would be a boon for the struggling downtown.There are three major arterials in and out, and the infrastructure is already there. There is a shuttle van to the shopping, said Susan Bell. This is a large amount of money. Use it in an area that will maximize the benefits.The owner of the Oyster Bay Inn in Bremerton, Yong Kang, disagreed with Wojcik that the supply of hotel rooms will outstrip demand in the long run.We suffer low occupancy, but eventually we will get others, Kang said. Bremerton is long overdue for economic rejuvenation.The Fairgrounds plan received the most nay votes. Fairgrounds neighborhood residents were angry that an ice arena was added to the proposal after the first draft was released, and expressed concerns about traffic and damage to salmon habitat.(The Fairgrounds proposal) concerns me, because how many more modifications will be made before the next meeting? Susan Dixon asked.The Fairground proposal is not well-thought-out. The silt from the Fairgrounds has already devastated Barker Creek, Bob Kieffer added.Those who urged construction of the McCormick Woods project praised the site's proximity to golf courses and miles of wooded trails. It also would be a boon to local shops, several people said.To qualify for the rebate, the proposed facility must serve a regional population and cost at least $10 million, including debt service. Local governments or businesses must cover one-third of the total cost of the facility, and construction of the facility must begin before 2003. The money is a refund of sales tax revenue already collected by the state. "