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HDPA merchants back downtown city hall

POULSBO — Many downtown business owners are giving a thumbs up after a 5-2 Aug. 29 city council vote that gave Poulsbo Mayor Kathryn Quade authority to partner with the Kitsap County Consolidated Housing Authority in an attempt to create suitable downtown city hall plans. Now the dust has settled and it appears Little Norway’s new city hall will land within the city’s downtown corridor, area merchants are looking forward to the development’s added benefits.

Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association president Glenn Anderson said he is hopeful the city’s plans will further the good of the cherished area.

“Anything that the city puts together will be to the benefit of Poulsbo,” he said. “As long as it doesn’t impact our parking.”

Anderson said he thought most downtown business owners supported keeping the structure in the city’s main core, and said any extra parking the new developments may provide will serve as an added bonus.

“That’s our main concern down here, is parking,” he said.

Mor Mor Bistro owner John Nesby was optimistic about the possible new structure.

“I do think it’s a positive thing,” he said. “No matter what we do in downtown Poulsbo I feel that it’s important to maintain that this community focuses on its downtown hub.”

Nesby said the historic downtown area is the heart of Little Norway, and having city hall within its boundaries will not only be good economically, but it will help to keep it a central piece of the community.

“It enables them to see and experience firsthand the downtown environment,” he said.

Nesby said having city officials and staff downtown will serve to keep the area’sinterest forefront in their minds, and will create a higher sense of pride in the community’s government institution.

“The city hall that we have right now is a very mediocre city hall,” he said. “By them spending money on a new facility... it’s going to revitalize some of the care for what it means to run a municipality in the downtown region.”

Hot Shots Java Coffeehouse owner David Musgrove agreed, and said the location would allow the mayor, council and employees to have the best understanding possible of the town in its entirety.

“It is good for business in the sense that city hall is aware of what’s going on downtown,” he said. “This keeps city hall both out in the public in the residential neighborhoods as well as downtown so they have a finger on the entire pulse of Poulsbo’s whole.”

Musgrove said having city employees and extra downtown visitors because of city hall’s location also brings in more business to the merchants. But most importantly, he said he hoped the structure would serve its primary purpose.

“If it’s done properly to suit the needs of city hall and the employees so that they can do their job as well as possible, that’s the primary concern,” he said.

Not all downtown merchants were excited to hear the news. Kitchen Karousel owner Sharon Lucas expressed worry that the structure would leave less parking for downtown businesses and their customers.

“I’m not for it,” she said. “I don’t think it’s a necessary thing for them to be downtown.”

Outgoing Greater Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Stuart Leidner said while he doesn’t expect the project to provide a perfect solution to the parking problems downtown, it will put a dent in current parking space deficiencies. When it comes to bringing more consumers to the downtown area, Leidner said city hall developments could create a steady community draw in the future.

“It is another piece of doing business in your community,” he said.

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