After Kitsap Rescue Mission announced last week that it would temporarily shut their doors Oct. 13 due to fire code issues in the building, Bremerton Mayor Greg Wheeler is proposing the reallocation of $120,000 in federal grant funding from the Quincy Square project to be used for building fixtures at the shelter.
Originally, the building’s temporary permit for the overnight shelter was set to expire and would not be renewed until the roof was replaced and a sprinkler system was installed.
Under the City of Bremerton’s proposal, Kitsap Rescue Mission would complete a two-hour firewall that would split the building into two spaces — one for day-to-day operations and case management services, and the other for the overnight shelter and dayroom, Wheeler said.
“By doing this, Building A will not need to have the roof replaced,” the mayor said.
“All of a sudden we have reduced the roof replacement cost, we’ve reduced the amount of square footage that needs to be sprinkled and they can maintain their operations. It’s something that’s doable.”
In Wheeler’s proposal, the City of Bremerton would use $120,000 of federal grant money, previously devoted to the Quincy Square project, to help Kitsap Rescue Mission with the building expenses. In 2018, the city received $300,000 in federal community development block grants for Quincy Square and has only spent $14,000 of that amount.
According to Wheeler, there are some federal guidelines that require the city to spend a portion of the funding by a certain deadline or risk losing access to the money.
The design of Quincy Square is already underway, Wheeler said.
“The Transportation Improvement Board was going to be a primary funding source that was going to determine our construction dollars,” Wheeler said of the Quincy Square project. “The design was going to fit how much money we raised. The board came back and asked us to take a year off and apply again in 2020. When that happened, it kind of put our design on pause.
“Without the entire scope of what we’re going to have to spend, we weren’t able to continue the design.”
Wheeler reiterated this action won’t have any effect on the progress of Quincy Square.
“It doesn’t affect it at all,” he said. “I’ll be out aggressively looking for money. I am as committed now as I was. A couple of things just happened to come all together. This appropriation is not only necessary but timely.”
Regarding Kitsap Rescue Mission, Wheeler said construction of the firewall should start immediately and the agency should start getting their funding in place.
“They should be actively seeking donations just in case,” he said. “We’ve estimated $120,000 will cover this but they shouldn’t be resting. They should be working as hard as the city just did.
“This is all hands on deck. We’re treating this with urgency because it’s not acceptable to be living and sleeping in a building without fire suppression.”
The proposal will require approval from the Bremerton City Council, which Wheeler will present at Wednesday’s City Council study session. Then, a 30-day public comment period will ensue, followed by the council voting on whether to approve the proposal.
“We have to have people weigh-in. This has to be important to the community,” Wheeler said. “I want our City Council to understand the gravity of the situation.”
Kitsap Rescue Mission posted a statement on its Facebook page Sept. 20 thanking Wheeler and the city for their support: “We are still working out the details, but I want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart to this caring, creative and amazing group of city officials. Special thanks to Greg Wheeler who leads this awesome team.”