BREMERTON — “Imagine coming down to City Hall Jan. 2 and having an 8:30 a.m. meeting,” Greg Wheeler said of his first day at work as mayor of Bremerton.
“It’s been a lot of that, a lot of getting my office set up and lots of meetings. I’ve already met with the Navy leadership. I met with Puget Sound Regional Council executive director. I think the short story is, lots of meetings with folks, getting my office set up, that type of thing.”
Since taking office, Wheeler has also been establishing short- and long-term goals for 2018.
“The top priority is to get the police chief hired,” Wheeler said.
Former Bremerton Police Chief Steven Strachan left at the end of 2017. Jim Burchett is serving as interim chief.
“I have other goals I’m working on,” he said. “I’d like to see us get started on providing incentives for affordable housing [and] continuing to encourage development. Parking is going to have to be addressed soon, so we’ll be working on implementing some parking strategies from the study the council budgeted for.”
Wheeler said his first days in office have been spent “just making sure we keep city business going while we’re moving forward.”
One big aspect of that is health care related. Wheeler said Jan. 9 that he’d be meeting with CHI Franciscan the following day to discuss their future plans for the Bremerton hospital.
“What I’m looking for right now is an update from them on what their plans are for the property after they vacate,” Wheeler said, “and as far as their future plans for urgent care [in Bremerton]. I intend on our city being a partner in this because, frankly, that’s a valuable piece of property up there. We need to have a strategic plan for what’s going to go in there … My goal is we can develop a relationship where we can be a part of their planning.”
Wheeler’s other goals include updating the code enforcement policy.
“We decided to go to to a more proactive approach to code enforcement,” he said. “I’m sitting down with staff to determine, what does that look like? How do we prioritize our resources? What’s the best way to prioritize?”
Wheeler said that if someone has a reason for being out of code, such as lack of funds needed to update a building to bring it into compliance, he wants to connect that person with resources to help them achieve compliance.
He wants to get the soccer fields at Pendergast Regional Park completed; fix the “dying” Kitsap Lake; streamline the licensing and permitting process; and make online business licensing doable. He added that he wants the passenger-only fast ferry to be “more predictable and user friendly.”
“I’m going to consider success differently,” Wheeler said of accomplishing his 2018 goals. “Some will be complete. We’re going to have a new parking program implemented; that’ll be completed. [For] Pendergast [park], we might identify funding sources. I’ll consider success to be, well, we’ve got a plan in place and we’ve secured the first funding source. Making a step that’s measurable would by my way of evaluating that one. [Regarding] Kitsap Lake, there’s something right now we’re going to move forward [on], address the milfoil problem. It’s a very small step, but it is a step toward helping that lake.”
He said other short-term goals will come up throughout the year; what he considers a “successful” goal completion will depend on the project itself.
“How do you measure success? It’s going to be some completed projects, other ones, we’re just starting the process.”
City Council vacancy
Wheeler vacated his District 4 City Council position when he was elected mayor. The city received applications from seven candidates for appointment; the City Council was scheduled Jan. 10 to interview applicants and make an appointment. The appointee will serve until the results of the Nov. 5, 2019 Municipal General Election are certified, according to the City Council office.
Of the city’s legislative body, Wheeler said, “I’m looking forward to a good relationship with the City Council this year.”
Wheeler is reachable by calling 360-473-5266, or emailing email@example.com. The mayor’s office is located in the Norm Dicks Government Center, 345 Sixth St., Suite 600, Bremerton.
— Michelle Beahm is online editor for Kitsap News Group. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.