Opinion

Here’s what we wish for in 2013 | In Our Opinion

A new year dawns, and it brings with it new opportunities as well as challenges.

Welcome to 2013. Here are some pressing issues that need our attention; these issues are even more pressing because they make a repeat appearance on our annual list.

No traffic fatalities in 2013: This year, we’d like to see a road safety summit in North Kitsap, a forum in which residents and representatives of our public safety agencies can discuss the area’s danger spots and ways to improve safety there.

There were five traffic-related fatalities in North Kitsap in 2011. There were seven traffic-related fatalities in North Kitsap in 2012. There were numerous other injury crashes in the area; a crash in January on Hansville Road was that road’s 56th crash since 2005.

Some roads may need signage: “Slow down.” “Watch your speed limit.” “Curves ahead.” “Road dangerous when speeding.” Perhaps we need signage that notes how many lives have been lost within a certain time period. Ice-alert indicator signs have dials that change from reflective silver to reflective blue when the temperature drops and icy road conditions are likely; those could be helpful. Solutions are out there; a forum would bring those solutions to the fore.

Let 2013 be the year when there were no traffic-related fatalities in North Kitsap.

Branding and vision for Viking Avenue: This topped our 2012 list. We’re glad the Poulsbo City Council has put it on its priority list for 2013.

As we stated a year ago, no other area of the city has more potential. Street improvements have been completed to the city limits. All necessary infrastructure is installed — curbs, gutters, sidewalks, street lighting, and utilities. There are established businesses here: Ag-related services, a bank, brewery, children’s clothing store, grocery, home services, movie theater and restaurants, and historical sites such as the Martinson Cabin Museum, Nelson Park, and the County Road 50 Walking Trail. Viking Avenue is a great alternative route to Silverdale.

Viking Avenue needs a new brand and a new vision. Businesses and the city began that discussion in October 2011; from it emerged the Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. The new Viking statue is a prominent presence at this entry into the city. An effort to move North Kitsap Fishline and the Poulsbo Farmers Market to Viking Avenue almost succeeded.

An organization of businesses and property owners similar to the Historic Downtown Poulsbo Association could help identify services missing in Poulsbo that can be accommodated on Viking Avenue; the thoroughfare’s proximity to Liberty Bay and marine-related uses should be considered. Mayor Becky Erickson believes the city could start a fund which can make zero-interest loans to businesses so they can make visual improvements to their businesses and properties.

Even in hard times, Poulsbo’s other business districts have pulled through. Viking Avenue is an important part of the city’s history and economy. We are confident that it can be a vibrant thoroughfare once again.

Expand the Poulsbo Port District’s boundaries: This also was on our 2012 list. The Poulsbo Port Commission should put annexation on the 2013 ballot.

Voters created the Port of Poulsbo in 1951 to operate marine- and recreation-related facilities and help bring economic development — investment and jobs — to the community. But as the city boundaries have grown, the port district boundaries have not. As a result, only half of the city’s commercial and residential property owners pay a property tax to support a port district that benefits the entire city.

The Poulsbo Port District’s boundaries should be enlarged to match the city’s boundaries.

The benefits: All voters in Poulsbo would be able to vote for port commissioners; currently, only port district residents can do that. All residents of Poulsbo would have a voice in port matters. The enlarged port district would generate significant tax revenue that can be used to replace the breakwater and its creosoted pilings; improve the seaplane dock and the marina, so it can accommodate larger tour vessels; and prevent further erosion at the foot of Anderson Parkway.

Larger port district boundaries would also empower the commission to look beyond the waterfront for economic development. Under state law, the port district could play a major role in economic revitalization in Poulsbo through the acquisition of property for commercial, ecotourism and recreational uses.

The North Kitsap Herald wishes everyone a healthy, prosperous and safe 2013.

 

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