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Port of Traceyton hangs in the balance

In a briefing Monday morning, Central Kitsap commissioner Patty Lent proposed the Port of Tracyton be dissolved. But the other two commissioners were lukewarm to the idea — at best.

“My major concern is every port we have has economic development opportunities that the county doesn’t have,” commissioner Jan Angel said. “My question is can those funds (in Tracyton) be used for economic development?”

According to state law if the port is dissolved its assets are given to the school district in which it resides.

Since 1994, the port has collected close to $50,000 from taxpayers. Those dollars were earmarked for possible improvements to the Tracyton Community Center, but have not been spent.

In the past several months the port commissioners have not conducted any business because of a dispute between two of the three members.

Former port commissioner Roy Anderson resigned his position in September after work obligations kept him from attending meetings. The vacancy has not been filled.

Although no public comments were allowed during the discussion, Brownsville resident Bob Arper spoke to Lent following the meeting. He shared his concerns about the possible dissolution of the port.

“Why put the load on Silverdale and Brownsville,” he said during a phone interview Monday.

In his 50 years involved with the two ports he has seen those flounder as well.

“There’s a lot a port can do,” he said.

“You can’t sit there and knock heads and get anything done,” Arper said.

The Tracyton Port district has not done much of anything for the past year or for the past several years, except collect taxes — about $6 for every $100,000 of assessed evaluation.

In his first year as Tracyton port commissioner Walt Fitzpatrick filed a criminal complaint in February 2002 with Kitsap County Sheriff’s office claiming the port’s budgets are false.

He has also said the tiny port district is inactive and should have been dissolved years ago.

In July 2002 a judge granted a temporary restraining order prohibiting port commissioner Steve Hoffman from speaking to Fitzpatrick. Hoffman threatened Fitzpatrick at an earlier meeting. Since then the port commssion has not conducted business or submitted a budget.

He attended Monday’s meeting but afterwards declined to comment for the record about what happened.

Commissioners are scheduled to meet Jan. 15 at a work session to further discuss the port issue.

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