Bremerton Profanity Needs a Miracle

The mayor’s redevelopment plans now include booting two bars and their “smoking and swearing” clientele.

Hours after Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman opened the Urban Waterfront Revitalization conference last week with the mayors of Sausalito, Calif., and Sidney, B.C., the City Council was served a contentious portion of his own downtown redevelopment plan that would leave the neighborhood without a bar. Bozeman and his Redevelopment Projects Administrator, Gary Sexton, want to condemn the first 40 feet of a row of businesses (read: bars) on First Street. According to Sexton, the mayor wants to connect the end of the "necklace" of downtown's development, which includes a new waterfront fountain park and a convention center. But some council members are wondering if the motivation behind the mayor's proposal is indeed a desire for a public plaza—or a desire to make sure that a dive bar called The Drift Inn and a blue-collar sports bar called The South Pacific aren't the first thing visitors see when they step off the ferry. "I think it is at least inferred that these places are not good-looking, or bad, because of the clientele," council member Mike Shepherd said after the meeting. "I have expressed concerns a couple times about the public necessity of this." When explaining how the plaza would connect the projects—which would remain divided by streets and ferry traffic—Sexton said after his presentation that people would feel more comfortable walking through a plaza with new buildings and businesses than on the narrow sidewalk along First Street with the "swearing and smoking" in front of the current establishments. (Full disclosure: This reporter has smoked and sworn in and around almost every bar in Bremerton.) But pushing the businesses back 40 feet to create a plaza and cafe seating, as Sexton proposes, wouldn't extinguish the smokes or marshal the language. Tearing down the entire buildings and bringing in new businesses—the obvious motivation of this proposal, and one touched on at last week's meeting—would. It's hard to see how the current businesses and their clientele — many employees of the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard across the street—are part of the mayor's vision for the city. The council is scheduled to act on the proposal at a public hearing on Wed., Sept. 17.

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