Poulsbo armory served its purpose | In Our Opinion

When the state decided to sell the North Kitsap Memorial Armory in 2009, city officials clamored that it be kept open for public benefit.

Ironically, the Port of Poulsbo’s decision to tear down the 60-year-old building in favor of a parking lot will best achieve that goal. Poulsbo is a city starved for parking but rich in vacant space.

The port spent a year searching for renters for the squat but sturdy building on Jensen Way. Like many prospective Poulsbo landlords, it found tenants were hard to come by.

With a $500,000 investment weighing heavily on its shoulders, the port decided to go where the demand was and replace the armory with a paid parking lot. The port isn’t going to get rich quick off this scheme, but at least it will be making some money.

Meanwhile, it could provide much-needed parking for its marina tenants and parking for the shoppers and sightseers who keep downtown Poulsbo kicking. Anyone who has driven hopeless laps around Front Street and Anderson Parkway in search of a parking space knows the need is there.

News of the armory’s impending destruction was met with dismay by many Poulsbo residents. Some don’t want to see a downtown landmark demolished. While its easy to fall into sentimentalism, the armory was never meant to win architectural awards. It was a study in utility and it served its purpose well. That purpose is now gone.

The fact that the building survived six decades doesn’t make it historic — it makes it outdated.

The building has also been preserved, in part, as a living memorial for North Kitsap veterans. The legacy of our service members certainly deserves recognition but an empty and possibly asbestos-ridden blockhouse is hardly a fitting tribute.

If Poulsbo’s leaders truly wanted to honor veterans, they would help find a new home for the newly displaced Veterans Services Office.

That is a real living legacy.

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