As it stands today, a 1.4-acre plot of land adjacent to Evergreen Park is fenced off, filled with mud, brush, grass and weeds.
But a year from now, community members involved in developing the area hope it will be the final addition to Evergreen Park, complete with a Sept. 11 memorial that has been seeking a home since steel beams salvaged from the World Trade Center arrived in Kitsap last summer.
Evergreen Park is one of several Bremerton parks on their way to a facelift, mostly paid for by service club donations and grants. As Lions Park’s remodel finishes this year, work on Matan Park will break ground this month and plans are moving forward to renovate Kiwanis Park next year.
The land planned for the 9/11 memorial – known as the “Chevron property” – has long been contaminated, having been used for bulk fuel storage before the city purchased the property in 2005. The soil contained gasoline and diesel, which was found floating on the ground water beneath it, likely seeping into the beach, said David Dinkuhn, a Parametrix project manager who led recent clean-up efforts.
But following one last clean-up effort this summer, the area will be ready to incorporate into the park, which city officials say will complete Evergreen Park’s gradual expansion.
Clean-up efforts began in 2006, with much of the work done in the summer of 2009, Dinkuhn said. Currently, the ground water is being tested to ensure it’s free of contaminants.
“It was a pretty heavily contaminated site at one time,” Parks and Recreation Director Wyn Birkenthal said.
However, recent measurements indicated higher concentrations of petroleum remaining in some areas of the property, making a final clean-up necessary at the beginning of this summer, said Tom Knuckey, managing engineer with the City of Bremerton.
An oxygen-releasing chemical will be injected into the ground, reducing the soil’s fuel contamination over time. Though the site will be monitored for several years to come, nothing will prevent the area from being integrated into the park, Knuckey said.
Though the Chevron property was long intended to be the final piece of Evergreen Park, plans for that area have changed. Originally, it was to include an amphitheater with walking and biking trails and anchor the north end of the Bremerton Park to Park Loop Trail, which would have connected the downtown Harborside district to Evergreen Park and Olympic College. The city built up 70 percent of the money needed for the project in grants, but when the economy tanked and real estate excise tax income dropped, the city was unable to provide matching dollars for the grant and scrapped the concept about a year ago, Birkenthal said.
However, the 9/11 memorial gave the property a new purpose. Originally intended for the Silverdale Waterfront Park, the Port of Silverdale rejected the memorial in April 2010. In October, the Bremerton Parks and Recreation Commission recommended the memorial be located in Evergreen Park, with the City Council voting to support the memorial in December.
Currently, the Kitsap 9/11 Memorial Committee is raising money for the construction of the memorial, with about $55,000 collected so far. Dave Fergus, of Rice Fergus Miller Architects in Bremerton, is working on preliminary designs that will incorporate the World Trade Center steel, as well as memorial tiles painted by Kitsap fifth graders. He hopes the City Council will approve his design next month and that construction will begin before Sept. 11.
“It’s just awesome,” Knuckey said. “It’s going to be a really fantastic memorial.”
Though pedestrian pathways and the newly landscaped beach at Lions Park are now open to the public, there is still more landscaping and construction to be done before the renovated park’s grand opening this summer.
The green space is still fenced off while the grass continues to take root. Picnic tables, benches and trash cans also need to be installed and the granite, whale-shaped play sculptures planned will be finished this summer, Birkenthal said. The climbing toys will be paid for by a $50,000 donation from the Bremerton Central Lions Club Foundation.
Volunteers have planted hundreds of plants and spread bark, including Lions club members and USS Nimitz sailors who planted 700 plants March 26. About 150 to 200 trees have yet to be planted.
The grand opening of the park, which has been under construction since March 2010, will likely happen the last week of July or the first week of August, Birkenthal said. The renovation cost almost $2 million, with $300,000 paid for by the city.
The City of Bremerton will be interviewing design consultants next week to help develop plans to remodel Kiwanis Park in Union Hill. There will also be an open house April 28 to show the public the proposed street improvements.
The scheduled improvements include street landscaping and storm drainage improvements on Fourth and Fifth Street, which will include pervious pavement to reduce storm water pollution, Birkenthal said. The park will receive a new playground, picnic shelter and restroom. The slope between the upper and lower portions of the park will be shallowed out and include steps and a ramp.
The grants paying for the update include a $400,000 grant from the state Recreation and Conservation Funding Board and a $500,000 low-impact development grant. Construction is expected to begin next year.
Construction will begin at the end of the month for Matan Park in Anderson Cove, which is slated for improvements following public comments and survey results collected last year.
A neighborhood meeting will be hosted at the park, located at 2220 Anderson Street, at 5:30 p.m. April 19 to review the details of the remodel and the construction schedule. Changes will include a new playground, walking path, new picnic shelter, an upgraded sports court with an adjustable height basketball hoop, an expanded lawn, benches and landscaping.
The park received an $80,000 Community Development Block Grant for the improvements, as well as $25,000 from the Downtown Bremerton Rotary Club and $25,000 from the city Park Development Fund.