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Work begins on city slope

Kingston-based Sealevel Bulkhead Builders have begun work to erect a retaining wall behind the Poulsbohemian Coffee Shop to keep it from sliding. - Charles Melton/Staff Photo
Kingston-based Sealevel Bulkhead Builders have begun work to erect a retaining wall behind the Poulsbohemian Coffee Shop to keep it from sliding.
— image credit: Charles Melton/Staff Photo

POULSBO — Recent rains have only added to the urgency with which Poulsbohemian Coffee House owner Marianna Mears views the work being done at her back door.

The Front Street building has been in danger of taking a plunge into Liberty Bay since Dec. 13, 2004, when part of the slope sloughed off.

The city subsequently restricted access to the cafe’s back room due to the extent of damage to the underlying slope that supports the building’s foundation.

“I was able to keep the business open and people have been great,” Mears said as she watched crews from Kingston-based Sealevel Bulkhead Builders work directly below the coffee house Monday afternoon.

The road to the actual construction of the new bulkhead has taken many twists and turns, but in the process, Mears was able to purchase the building next to the Poulsbohemian and ensure the project could be expanded.

“I had to visit with them to see if they wanted to go in with me,” she said of the building’s former owners. “It turned out I bought it.”

Once she purchased the building, Mears said she had to go back to the contractor and expand the project’s scope, which put it into the summer.

However, because of a combination of smelt runs, salmon runs and other environmental concerns, the work was delayed until November when Mears, the contractor and the city sat down for a pre-application conference for the permits required to do the work.

“I wanted to be able to put it through as quickly as possible and they put it through as an emergency for us,” Mears said. “The city’s been really helpful.”

Normally, Sealevel works from a barge but because of concerns about the sewer line running along the bay, a crane operator was brought in to determine whether he could put the necessary equipment in place, she said.

“The crane operator came and checked it out and said it was OK,” she explained.

After more than a year of waiting, Sealevel crews began on the bulkhead Jan. 12.

“It’s begun and it may take another week to two weeks,” Mears said. “We should open the back room up the first of February.”

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