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Mayor Lent sings Bremerton's praises at chamber luncheon
Mayor Patty Lent had a chance to be the city's Booster in Chief during this week's chamber of commerce monthly luncheon.
Lent spoke for about 25 minutes and fielded questions from chamber members. She highlighted a variety of accomplishments across the city in recent years and renewed her campaign pledge from last fall to increase the city's population from 38,000 residents to 50,000 by the end of her second term.
Lent said that three upcoming apartment projects -- the Spyglass with 83 units overlooking the Manette Bridge, Evergreen Pointe with more than 100 units and retail space near Evergreen Rotary Park and 81 apartments above the city's Park Avenue garage downtown -- will help accomplish that goal. She said three other waterfront towers along Washington Avenue, with more than 400 units and parking, are also still a possibility.
Once those first apartments go up, with more affordable rent than Seattle offers and promised parking, Lent said she will begin reaching out to Human Resources staffers at Microsoft, Amazon, Google and other companies in Seattle.
"We think if we get that passenger only ferry with a 30-minute crossing, with the quality of life we have here, we've got it made here for a population that can support the city and that the city can support," she said, later noting that more than $9 million has been invested for fast ferries since 2004.
Lent thinks King County, which operates three water taxis, would be the ideal partner for Kitsap Transit to make passenger ferries a reality.
In addition, Lent noted that the shipyard is looking to hire more than 3,000 workers in the next three years which could also boost Bremerton's population.
Lent also told chamber members that she will be traveling to Houston in October to meet with officials from five General Electric divisions to talk to them about locating in the South Kitsap Industrial Area around the airport and in downtown Bremerton.
"We have here in Bremerton, with the shipyard and naval base, all the businesses you see in Los Angeles and San Francisco, Houston or Denver, but you don't know they are here because they don't have a big sign on a building," she said. "Raytheon, Lockheed, Vigor, GE, all of them have contracts with our military and the shipyard. We'd like to let people know that they're here."
During a question-and-answer session, Lent was asked about the future of Harrison Hospital in Bremerton when acute care services are centralized in Silverdale. After learning of the possible move, Lent said one of her first calls was to Washington, D.C. to find out about having Veterans Administration services in Bremerton or some other way to re-purpose the hospital. She also noted that she, along with state Senator Christine Rolfes, former Harrison CEO Scott Bosch, Bremerton City Councilwoman Leslie Daugs, and others will be serving on a task force to plan for the future of the hospital site and surrounding businesses.
"It's not immediate that the hospital is leaving, so it gives us some time to take and do that re-purposing review," Lent said.
Just some of the accomplishments in recent years that Lent touched on during her presentation included new downtown streets with eight-foot sidewalks, the ongoing Lower Wheaton Way improvement project, the Kitsap 9/11 Memorial, a complete overhaul of Kiwanis Park, the addition of Ace and Henry's hardware stores, a re-built McDonald's and Kitsap Bank with a Starbucks in East Bremerton, the redevelopment of former Navy housing at East Park and West Park (now known as Bay Vista), the future home of the Marvin Williams Youth Recreation Center downtown, the new Youth Wellness Center in East Bremerton and the Salvation Army hygiene center project.
One other new business that Lent highlighted is the Horse & Cow in downtown on Fourth Street.
"If you haven't been inside, it's almost like another museum," she said.