July 26 meeting: Final opportunity to ask ‘tough questions’ about Kingston’s future

KINGSTON — On July 26, Kingston residents will have one more opportunity to help shape their community’s future. That’s when Heartland, LLC, will present its report, “Port of Kingston: Downtown Waterfront Properties Study and Site Development Plan,”

According to the draft copy of the report, available on the port’s website, cottage rentals and a signature restaurant would appear to be the most attractive uses for several of the Port of Kingston’s waterfront properties. This is based on input from the community when “viewed through the lens of a prospective developer and operator.”

Representatives of Heartland, LLC, will present their report — and explain their findings and recommendations — at 1 p.m. July 26 at the monthly Port Commission meeting in theVillage Green Community Center’s Windermere Room, 26159 Dulay Road NE, Kingston.

The meeting is open to the public.

Port of Kingston Executive Director Jim Pivarnik encourages Kingston residents to download and read the draft copy of the report and then bring their questions to the meeting.

“Remember, the key word here is ‘draft,’ ” Pivarnik said. “There will be questions. The purpose of the meeting is to give the commissioners — and the public — an opportunity to ask tough questions about how the researchers arrived at their recommendations.

“[For example,] one thing that is blatantly missing from the draft report is residential,” Pivarnik said. “With the foot ferry coming in 2018, we know there is going to be increased demand for condos and apartments. These were in the original presentation as a [possible] use for the Hilltop property by the boat ramp. Why did they drop it off?”

Which is not to say he or the commissioners want the recommendations changed; they just want to understand the rationale and numbers behind them.

Port commissioners hired Heartland LLC to conduct the study in 2016. The $47,000 study was largely funded by a $35,000 grant from the Community Economic Revitalization Board. Heartland, LLC is “a Seattle-based real estate advisory and investment firm with over 30 years of experience devising and implementing strategies to create value for its clients,” according to its website.

From the outset, the port kept its hands off the study.

“We didn’t want to direct this study. We wanted an independent outsider’s interpretation of the situation,” Pivarnik said.

When the study began, Pivarnik said, “We need to think outside the tourism box. We need to be helping develop businesses that will support family wages. As a port district, under RCW 53.08, we are the government agency responsible for development [in unincorporated Kingston]. Four million cars a year come through Kingston … How do we leverage that?”

Pivarnik said he saw enhancing community life as an important ongoing role for the port.

“We belong to the Kingston Stakeholders [organization],” Pivarnik said. “These are business people who are very philanthropic and want to make Kingston better place to live.”

He acknowledged at the time that not everyone supported the idea of economic development. “There are those in the community that would like us to remain a bedroom community, where people live here and work on the east side [of the Sound].”

And their voices and opinions are important, too, Pivarnik said, adding that he he wanted all Kingston residents to have a voice in the future of the area.

“Community outreach meetings were an important part of that study,” Pivarnik said. “We really wanted the residents to speak up and have a voice in their future.”

— Terryl Asla is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at tasla@soundpublishing.com.

Port of Kingston/courtesy

Port of Kingston/courtesy