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Poulsbo Port: Bockus and Rutledge
POULSBO — Both men running for Port of Poulsbo Commission are lifelong boaters and animated about bringing a stronger economic contribution to the city.
Jim Rutledge wants to serve the community he now calls home, and Arnold “Arnie” Bockus wants to continue the relationship between the port and the city.
Rutledge is challenging Bockus for Position 3. While both have many of the same priorities for the port, they differ in their ideas of how to bring more revenue into the port and the city.
Port commissioners serve six-year terms, manage a budget of just over $1 million and are compensated $100 per meeting they attend.
Arnold ‘Arnie’ Bockus
Bockus has been a commissioner for seven years — first appointed to the position, he then ran unopposed for his first term. A retired police officer from Connecticut, he spent five years in Washington state, partly with the Air Force. During a cross-country motorcycle trip after retirement he came across Poulsbo, and moved here 16 years ago.
Bockus said first priority for the port is transforming the former armory property into a parking lot for port users.
Currently, there are 12 parking spots for boaters, as well as Anderson Parkway, which is shared with downtown shoppers. There is little parking availability for trailers, making it difficult to maneuver a boat from land to sea. In 2009, the state shut down the North Kitsap Armory; the Port purchased the site for $880,000, according to previous Herald reports. The port planned to demolish the building and repave the lot for paid parking stalls by early 2011, but permitting delays have slowed the project. Bockus said they are now on track, and 52 stalls will be available within a year.The port brings in about $3.5 million a year to the city through moorage fees and visitors. Bockus said one thing he is proud of in his tenure is improving communication between the port and the city, especially in discussing economic development.
“In the past, the city was the city, the port was the port,” he said. Councilman David Musgrove serves as council liaison to the port. “They’re our biggest neighbor ... We do most of our business with the city.”
However, Bockus said his work isn’t done. Erosion along Muriel Iverson Williams Waterfront Park is a concern; boulders are slipping from the waterfront, undermining Anderson Parkway and causing danger to small boats near shore. Bockus said the port is going to need the city’s help to tackle the shoreline problem.
He also said the port is looking for grants and other funding opportunities to extend the docks further into Liberty Bay to allow large boats, such as tour cruises, into downtown Poulsbo.
Bringing in tour boats “doesn’t impact parking downtown, at the same time it brings additional people to downtown to enhance the ... economy,” Bockus said.
A lifelong boater, Rutledge planted his roots in Poulsbo more than 10 years ago and has searched for a way to serve the community ever since. He grew up living all over the country, previously living in Issaquah before finding Poulsbo. He has had numerous vocations, and is currently working as a physician’s assistant at North Kitsap Family Practice & Urgent Care.
As a tenant of the port district and sailboat enthusiast — “But I like powerboats just fine,” he said — Rutledge wants the port to return to its original mission: economic development and job creation.
He would like to see greater port involvement at downtown festivals and events, and bring in charter tour boats from Seattle, he said. He would also like to see the port district expand to the current city limits, which would mean a boost in property tax revenue.
“[The port] is in a unique position to contribute,” he said.
He also agreed with Bockus that the parking lot is a priority.
“Parking is key — it’s the choke point downtown,” he said, adding that the Port of Kingston has 10 more parking spots than slips. Port of Poulsbo has 263 permanent and 130 visiting slips.
Rutledge said the current commissioners are being great stewards, but he feels the port needs new energy.“I have the time and energy to serve now,” he said.
Ballots will be mailed Oct. 18. If you don’t receive a ballot by Oct. 27, contact the Kitsap County Auditor Elections Office, (360) 337-7128