An old and cherished landmark for many in Port Orchard was finally demolished but will not be forgotten in the construction of a new fire station.
The project has been years in the making, with the 3-acre property containing four parcels purchased in 2019. Fire chief Jeff Faucett said the property was purchased with the intent of improving emergency services in South Kitsap while also clearing out some older buildings.
“These buildings are not salvageable, and they pose a public safety hazard to our citizens. Removing them is the best option,” Faucett said.
The most notable of these properties is PJ’s Market, a local business that served as a gathering place for the Port Orchard and Manchester communities. A multitude of flowers often decorated the market, and regulars more commonly and lovingly known as the “porch potatoes” would sit outside with their coffee and make conversation with fellow community members.
The market site is to serve as a memorial to Al Kono, the man who took ownership of the market in the early 1990s and was well known throughout the community, Faucett said. Kono’s life was cut short when he was murdered in 2005, but his legacy lives on.
Faucett said, “Our plan is to create a public space located on this property where many can come and share and reflect on his legacy to this community.”
The fire station planned for the property is intended to replace Station 9 located at Yukon Harbor, which has served the community since the 1960s. The additional space planned for the new station would allow the department to staff a paramedic unit and a fire engine 24 hours a day if approved by voters.
“Having two units in this community will help with the increased simultaneous calls that are occurring every year,” Faucett said.
As the property begins preparations for construction, Faucett said that the department is looking to reduce the cost to taxpayers, and he also said the Board of Fire Commissioners has considered the possibility of a bond for emergency facilities.
“The amount required in bond funding to build a fire station would be less if we can pay as much of our upfront costs as possible,” Faucett said.