Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson gave a taste of what’s to come in 2019 for the city of Poulsbo, during the Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce’s first chamber luncheon of the year.
“I drove through town in 2010 and I thought, ‘dear heavens, what are we going to do?” Erickson said, painting a bleak picture of Poulsbo eight years ago as she described empty parking lots and vacant businesses. “The town was slowing.”
After working with council members to reinvigorate the downtown core, the mayor said, focus was then placed on breathing new life into Viking Avenue.
“We’ve been working hard on Viking Avenue,” the mayor said. “now, guess where we’re headed? Olhava. That’s where we’re going to start putting our emphasis to try to reinvigorate it.”
“We are going to work to make College Marketplace be the result it was supposed to be,” Erickson said.
The mayor painted in broad strokes, the plans for a new 104-room hotel, parks, walking paths and an event and recreation center in the area. The recreation center, she said, would be Poulsbo’s version of the YMCA.
“We’re calling it PERC,” Erickson said. “Poulsbo Event and Recreation Center — we put in a grant to the Public Facilities District, we’re initially asking for $300,000.”
The mayor also hinted at the possibility of a troll moving in under the Adele Ferguson bridge. “We have permission from the Washington State Department of Transportation now to kind of work a little bit in their [rights of way]” she said. “Where Highway 3 goes over Highway 305 … There’s a space in there for a troll and I want to put a troll in there, so stay tuned.”
Traffic, Erickson said, would continue to be a big consideration in the year to come. Citing the recent commencement of Kitsap Transit’s fast ferry service between Kingston and Seattle, Erickson stressed the importance of managing traffic through the city.
“The question we need to start planning for is: how do we get the Kingston traffic out of Poulsbo?” she queried before suggesting the possibility of a new connection which could circumvent the city altogether.
Erickson also advised that residents should be mindful of the traffic impacts for a coming repaving project on Forest Rock Lane.
“Forest Rock Lane — as soon as we get decent weather — that will start to be repaved,” the mayor said. “That will be repaved all the way from 10th Avenue, all the way up the hill to Caldart. It’s also going to be closed for a couple months.”
“Because of the steepness and the curves and the ability to work in that environment, for safety and for cost, we’ve decided we’re going to close the road for a couple months,” she added.
In an email ahead of her luncheon speech, the mayor offered up a list of her top five issues facing Poulsbo in 2019:
- Infrastructure- Noll Road, Forest Rock Hill, Finn Hill road work, Johnson Parkway, the 305 corridor and pedestrian safety.
- Continued work on mental health, homelessness and housing affordability. I am chair of the Kitsap Regional Coordinating Council (KRCC) and Housing Kitsap this year, so I will be concentrating my efforts in this area. KRCC is convening a county wide task force to address affordable housing.
- Reinvigoration of Olhava- College Market Place. I worked first to promote downtown (2010-2013) then on to Viking Ave (2013-2018) and now on to Olhava.
- I will be watching carefully how development is moving forward, concentrating on balancing jobs with housing. If our population is expanding, we must also grow new jobs.
- Parks and public open spaces. We have 3 new parks coming together and a renewed effort for trail and pedestrian connections.
For those who were unable to attend the Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce luncheon on Jan. 9, Erickson will be presenting her State of the City Address at the Jan. 16 meeting of the Poulsbo City Council.
—Nick Twietmeyer is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. Nick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org