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Poulsbo may site city hall at Moe and 3rd

POULSBO — The city of Poulsbo could soon be headquartered at the intersection of Moe Street and 3rd Avenue, and the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority has secured a purchase option should the city take the offer.

Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade made the announcement Wednesday night, and said if feasibility studies are positive and the deal is approved, the new digs could be up and running within two years.

Environmental testing began Thursday on the residential property, and the KCCHA has arranged for the city to purchase the .6-acre parcel if and when the motion is made.

“The voters said they want the new city hall to be downtown, and this site clearly meets that requirement,” Quade said in a prepared statement. “But before we sign on the dotted line, we’re going to do our due diligence first.”

The KCCHA will conduct geological testing to ensure there is sufficient soil bearing capacity, and will undertake a two-phase review to make certain there is no water or soil contamination. If the purchase gets the green light, the city would then look to enter into an interlocal agreement with KCCHA, allowing it to assist in city hall’s development.

The city decided at an Aug. 29 council meeting to give KCCHA the go ahead in looking for potential properties within Little Norway’s historic downtown. In 2001, the city purchased a site on 7th Avenue and Iverson for $600,000, and spent an addition $76,000 on feasibility studies. The location’s proximity to a fork of the salmon bearing Dogfish Creek nixed the plan, and the the parcel will be used as a city park instead.

Once it was determined the site on 7th couldn’t serve as a municipal campus, numerous other options were reviewed. In late 2005, $2.1 million was alloted to the purchase of a 10th Avenue property for city hall, but planning later shifted to the downtown core after an advisory vote on the matter in November 2006.

“For over 25 years, KCCHA has helped Poulsbo out whenever we’ve asked,” Quade said. “They’ve built a community center, apartments for our seniors, found grants to repair old storm sewers, and even helped Martha & Mary find the money needed to do necessary repairs and upgrades.”

Councilwoman Connie Lord added KCCHA has extensive experience in both organization and management of complex construction projects, from low-income apartments to government facilities.

“The city believes that by working together with KCCHA, we’ll be able to take advantage of their financial project management expertise, as well as their ability to secure federal and state grants,” she said.

Ed Stern reaffirmed the sentiment, adding KCCHA is “not a new partner in Poulsbo,” and said the city will begin exploring the option of turning 3rd Avenue into a one-way street to create a temporary parking solution.

“This could create diagonal parking on both sides, adding a substantial block of interim parking for downtown,” he said. “This will buy time until a longer-term larger parking solution can be developed around the economic revitalization of the old city hall property.”

KCCHA director of public affairs Sarah Lee said the property at Moe Street and 3rd Avenue is especially suited for the project because of its downtown vicinity and mostly vacant land. The area contains two parcels, one belonging to a private owner, the other owned by Rose Properties serving currently as the site for Sound Naturopathic Clinic.

“The city told us that they wanted something within this downtown core,” she said. “It’s just a block away from the current city hall site, which makes a lot of sense... It just seemed perfect.”

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