Port signs on as public partner for community events center

Port, City of Port Orchard, Kitsap County agree to work together

PORT ORCHARD — The Port of Bremerton’s Board of Commissioners approved a resolution at its regular meeting April 23 that confirms its participation as a public partner with the City of Port Orchard and Kitsap County to support the proposed South Kitsap Community Events Center.

The commissioners’ approval mirrored a similar resolution unanimously agreed to by Port Orchard’s City Council members that same night at their own regular meeting. The twin resolutions were crafted and approved as a means to signal to the Kitsap Public Facilities District (KPFD) that South Kitsap’s primary governmental entities were prepared to work in concert to shepherd the project to completion.

The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners has yet to approve a similar resolution, although Steve Sego, a representative of commercial development company Sound West Group of Bremerton — which is leading the effort to build the community events center — said he understands that county staff members are developing a draft version. Sego said he will give a presentation to the commissioners at their regular meeting Monday.

The PFD is a public municipal corporation with the authority to allocate an existing pool of tax revenue for Kitsap County projects that its board of directors deems to be of civic value to the county.

In its resolution, the commissioners stated that the Port’s status as a public partner in the project “will assist with the effort to identify and secure funding for the CEC [community events center] project, including local, state and federal grant sources, private benefactors and other appropriate sources for the funding of the project.”

They also committed to provide expertise and participate as a joint applicant in funding requests and determine underlying CEC ownership and funding sources for the center’s operations. The board also acknowledged that KPFD funding for the project will not be fully awarded until the public partners have raised the additional funds to “fully support the project and its projected operating costs.”

The community events center proposed by Sound West Group is the initial piece of a $100 million Port Orchard multi-use, multi-phased commercial and residential redevelopment project that is to reshape a major portion of the downtown area.

The Public Facilities District’s board received a proposal request March 11 from Sego for an up to 30,000-square-foot community events center that is projected to cost approximately $20 million to build. Sego said his group requested KPFD’s directors commit between $10-13 million in funding for the project.

The KPFD holds sway over an existing pool of Washington state sales tax rebate funds allocated to Kitsap County. The board has limited its scope to reviewing sizeable project submittals of $10 million or more in value, according to the corporation’s “Report to the Community” on its website. It also has identified South Kitsap or Bainbridge Island as preferential project locations.

The board previously allocated funds for the Kitsap Conference Center at Harborside in Bremerton, and improvement projects for the North Kitsap Regional Event Center in Poulsbo and the Kitsap Fairgrounds and Event Center in Silverdale. The Port Orchard project would be South Kitsap’s first project to receive funding from the KPFD.

“We’re still quite optimistic about our KPFD prospects,” Sego said of the funding proposal, which won’t be decided on until next month.

The KPFD has indicated that it intends to make a final funding decision on the community events center project and other projects submitted to the board by June 24.