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Silverdale port commissioners to make decision on 9/11 memorial

Fifty-six feet worth of mangled and twisted steel will be made into a 9/11 memorial in Kitsap County, and now it's just a matter of securing the location.

The 9/11 Memorial Committee, consisting largely of community members and employees with Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue, has its heart set on the Silverdale waterfront, but commissioners for the Port of Silverdale could ask the committee to build elsewhere in light of property use restrictions and accessibility.

"This is where we'd love to see it, but the final approval is in their hands," said Roy Lusk, assistant chief for Central Kitsap Fire and Rescue and the committee's chairman.

The group will formally present its plan for the memorial — which includes winding pedestrian pathways, low-lying granite walls with etched names, dates and pictures as well as a pentagon-shaped slab of concrete — at the port commissioners meeting March 18 and a decision may or may not be reached at that time, Lusk said. Architect and committee member Dave Fergus will present a drawing of the memorial at the meeting.

The commissioners are considering whether or not the privately-funded memorial is "appropriate" for the park said port attorney Phil Best. The grassy area between the boat ramp and the pier that the committee had in mind for the memorial's placement was provided by a federal grant through the National Parks Service and there are specific restrictions on how that land is used.

"We have to go back and look at those constraints," Best said.

Parking at the waterfront park will likely affect the commissioners' decision. Parking, especially during the summer months, is already an issue in downtown Silverdale, Best said.

"Is this going to exacerbate an already existing problem?" Best said.

Lusk said he doesn't see a problem with having enough parking, adding that if visitors are forced to park farther away, it could create more foot traffic for local businesses.

"While parking may be a detriment in some areas, it may enhance others," Lusk said, adding the foot traffic would be good for the revitalization of Old Town Silverdale. "I'm not envisioning hundreds and hundreds of people, I'm envisioning more things to see within in the area."

If the port commissioners deny the committee's request, Lusk said there are alternatives.

The committee has a list of at least 17 other sites stretching across the Central Kitsap area including the Brownsville marina and Island Lake County Park that could serve as a home for the memorial. Lusk said he has not contacted anyone about constructing at any of those sites and that each individual location requires its own specific design.

The steel, which is being housed temporarily at a hangar at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, will arrive on an escorted flatbed truck this summer and Lusk said he hopes to have the memorial mostly constructed by the 10-year anniversary in 2011.

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