Ground broken for Bremerton armory

Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, was a principle speaker Nov. 1 at the groundbreaking for Bremerton’s new west side Armory. - Photo by Tracey Cooper
Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, was a principle speaker Nov. 1 at the groundbreaking for Bremerton’s new west side Armory.
— image credit: Photo by Tracey Cooper

After years of anticipation the Washington Army National Guard finally broke ground on the Bremerton Readiness Center.

The dirt turned Friday on the 36,700 square foot center in West Bremerton, which is expected to open in spring 2004.

“Did you ever think we’d make it here,” asked state Sen. Betti Sheldon, D-Bremerton, as she arrived at the Union Road site. She was one of several state and local public officials who were on hand for the 2 p.m. ceremony .

The new building will replace the old Sinclair Housing project building. In less than a week equipment will dismantle the old building to make way for the new.

The old armory, which was built circa 1940, will continue to operate until the new one is completed.

“We’re doing something more than turning a shovel full of dirt,” said Maj. Gen. Tim Lowenberg, Adjutant General of the Washington National Guard.

The $12 million Readiness Center will also have 11,000 additional square feet for classrooms, a food preparation area, lockers and shower rooms.

The new facility will be more energy efficient, aesthetically pleasing and boost morale among the troops said Rick Patterson, public affairs officer for the National Guard.

The main tenants of the armory will be the guard’s Company B, First Battalion, 303rd Armor and Detachment No. 2, 702nd Chemical Company, which specializes in nuclear, biological and chemical reconnaissance.

In addition, area firefighters and emergency management teams will learn how to handle terrorist attacks or natural disasters.

“When a disaster strikes we engage as we train,” Lowenberg said. The training center would provide a world-class response, he continued.

But community groups, such as Olympic College and local Boys and Girls club, are encouraged to use the center as well.

“This is a great facility,” said U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Belfair, as he addressed the crowd of about 100. Dicks and other lawmakers. were instrumental in keeping the center’s funding afloat this year when Washington Gov. Gary Locke looked this year at cutting funding for the project.

About $6 million came from the state and $4.3 million came from the federal government.

A similar facility opened in Yakima replacing their armory that was built in 1903.

The Bremerton facility was designed, in part, by the Bremerton architectural firm of Rice, Fergus Miller Architects. The General Contractor for the project will be Berschauer Phillips, of Tumwater, Wash.

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