As Public Works is in the midst of transferring operations to its new location on Viking Avenue, the Poulsbo City Council discussed last week potential future plans for its current location on Iverson Street.
Public Works is expected to be moved in by 2023-24. The city’s goal is to repurpose the Iverson Street site to maximize community benefit, city documents read.
The Poulsbo Farmers Market, which currently operates at the nearby Gateway Fellowship church, and Coffee Oasis, a faith-based entity located next to the property, are two organizations that have been considered by the city to transfer the site at no cost. The city owns the Coffee Oasis location and leases the property to them. Other possibilities for the site will be considered, as well, officials said.
“This is the first bite of the apple,” Mayor Becky Erickson said. “We still have a huge amount of due diligence that needs to be done in order to get these contracts together, or if it’s even feasible at all for either of these tenants. This is a very important conversation and a very big decision. It’s a large piece of property that’s severely encumbered.”
The property, which is zoned C3 commercial, has been owned and used by the city for over 50 years. While councilmember Gary McVey was in favor of exploring potential uses to the property, he didn’t want it limited to just Coffee Oasis and the farmers market.
“We clearly need to explore possible uses for this property,” he said. “If we do not find partners to work with on this property and it is left abandoned, we are likely to face some significant costs for demolition. I am supportive of exploring potential uses for this property. I don’t think we should limit ourselves to these two possibilities right now.”
Councilmember Britt Livdahl mentioned that parts of the property flood often, so the “concept of affordable housing … is not feasible.” She said city staff and members of the farmers market checked out the site during the winter. The existing buildings already there could provide year-round shopping for the market but there’s a lot more to consider, according to Livdahl.
“There would be a tremendous amount of work for them with this site,” she said. “From their point of view, they don’t necessarily feel comfortable investing a lot of money in something that they don’t have security in. The truth is the farmers market being in Poulsbo at all is in jeopardy. We desperately want the farmers market to stay in Poulsbo. It’s a sensitive environmental area and I think the farmers market would take good care of it.”
Councilmember Connie Lord added: “I totally support the opportunity for both of these agencies to be able to permanently locate in our city. We’re not gifting them in the sense of doing something wrong by giving them a token lease. We did the same thing with SEA Discovery Center. That is an asset that everybody loves. The farmers market is an asset to the community, no doubt. Coffee Oasis is an asset to our youth.”
Potential next steps include property disclosures; agreement in principle with Coffee Oasis, farmers market or another organization; property transfer contracts (similar in approach to SEA Discovery Center with Western Washington University); and finalize/record BLA (complete in 2022).