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Mayor tells Realtors Poulsbo ‘doing great’

POULSBO – When Mayor Donna Jean Bruce told local Realtors Tuesday afternoon that Poulsbo was “doing great” and that better things are in the city’s future, she backed it up with a few big examples.

With the Olhava development taking shape, an emphasis on annexation and a new effort to revitalize downtown, the city is headed in the right direction, Bruce commented.

Bruce joined Planning Director Barry Berezowsky, Public Works Director Jeff Lincoln and City Engineer Andre Kasiniak at a regional luncheon for the Kitsap County Association of Realtors to discuss the future of Poulsbo.

“We’ve been impressed with what we’ve been seeing in Poulsbo and we hope it continues in the future,” remarked Mike Eliason, government affairs director for the group.

The luncheon was the second in a series of meetings, where key leaders in cities throughout the county are being invited to offer reports on the health of their respective entities, Eliason said.

“Last month, we had our first regional luncheon on Bainbridge Island and our next one will probably be in Bremerton or Port Orchard,” he said, noting that even though there have only been two such luncheons, Poulsbo’s city staff did an excellent job of putting together a solid presentation and addressing issues that the group had as a whole.

“We already knew what was happening in Poulsbo currently, but now we have a better idea of what the future holds,” Eliason said.

One of the keys to future development in the city’s downtown core will be the creation of the long-awaited municipal campus, Bruce told the group.

“We’ve been talking about it since 1999 and it finally looks like it’s finally going to happen,” she said.

The movement of city hall and the police department from the downtown core will free up a couple of key parcels of land for redevelopment, Bruce said.

“With a public/private partnership, we might be able to do something about parking downtown,” she added, noting that parking is the dominant issue in the downtown area.

Even so, Bruce observed, redevelopment cannot be done piecemeal and a concrete strategic plan is needed. As part of the city’s efforts to develop such a plan, two public meetings have been conducted to gather public comment and gauge public interest, she explained.

“The next step is to go to the city council and get approval to do further study,” Bruce said.

That further study might include a marketing survey of what the downtown area could support and what its strengths and weaknesses are from an economic and consumer availability standpoint, she noted.

While downtown is the focus of much attention from city staff, the city has annexed about 700 acres of its Urban Growth Area during the last three years, she said.

“With all of the annexation we’ve done, we have the potential for 5,000 new people in the city,” Bruce said.

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