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Kingston businesses need local traffic, parking

KINGSTON — Downtown Kingston businesses can’t survive off revenue generated solely from travel and tourism, said Pete Sullivan, associate planner for Kitsap County Department of Community Development (DCD). “It doesn’t pay the rent.”

Businesses need repeat and local customers to generate and revive the downtown area, Sullivan said. This is one of the goals expressed in the sub-area planning project run by joint efforts between the DCD, Kingston Citizen’s Advisory Council and public input.

Marsha Dohrendorf owned and ran Kingston Naturals, a gift and lifestyle business, downtown for 17 years before closing her doors.

“I think the tourism was fantastic but there is a lack of local support in downtown Kingston.” Dohrendorf said. “If I could have answered why then I would probably still be in business.”

The goal of the sub-area plan is to turn residents’ vision for their town into reality and figure out the obstacles preventing their vision from coming to fruition.

“The common theme repeated is the downtown revitalization,” Sullivan said during the review of the second sub-area planning meeting at the KCAC meeting April 2. “Kingston’s downtown is the main focus.”

One of the major roadblocks repeatedly mentioned is the need for adequate parking.

“The current parking code that applies to Kingston is the same code used in the development of Silverdale,” said Peter Brachvogel, principal architect for BC&J, located on Bainbridge Island. “There is a direct conflict between urban design code and the goal.”

Brachvogel, who regularly attends the sub-area planning meetings, submitted a modified version of the parking code to county commissioners.

“The goal was to generate an aesthetic and walkable community that is not so vehicle-dependent,” Brachvogel said. “The county needs to relax the parking code so development can occur without giving high priority to the car.”

In the current code for an Urban Village Center there are guidelines that just aren’t viable for the new urbanist core, he said.

Churches, for instance, are required to have a parking spot for every eight feet of pew.

“That would mean assuming an entire congregation goes to church each Sunday but the rest of the week it’s an empty parking lot,” he said.

Also according to the current code, the amount of parking spaces depend on the gross size of the building.

“It should be based on the net size of the building,” he said. “No one occupies the bathroom full time.”

Adopting the revision is necessary and at no cost to the county, Brachvogel said.

“If you don’t try it, you are just going to get Silverdale — a sea of parking that never gets filled,” he said. “If you look at any one time only 30 percent of the parking spots are filled. No one lives in downtown Silverdale.”

The third and final sub-area planning meeting covers economic development opportunities, downtown revitalization, port facilities and waterfront improvements and transportation.

The meeting, open to public input, will be at 7 p.m. April 9 at the Kingston Community Center. Public Works transportation planning staff are scheduled to be at the meeting.

KCAC members hope to have a list of priorities gathered from the sub-area meetings to present to the Kitsap County commissioners at their regular June 4 meeting.

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