By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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Economic stagnation had stalled development of the southern part of town, but conditions are improving, according to City Manager David Timmons.
“In the past because of the recession, we haven’t had a lot of interest in commercial expansion,” Timmons said Thursday.
“Recently, we are seeing a lot of interest in that area, so this is a positive sign.”
The city is laying the groundwork for using Howard Street to connect Sims Way to Discovery Road.
Cutting through the last half-mile on Howard Street will be the first step toward creating a north-south traffic connection.
Eventually, this connection will extend Ranier Street to meet Howard Street and end up at Sheridan Street, Timmons said.
The $5 million project, which includes installation of sewer, utilities and groundwater in addition to the road construction, will be subsidized through a combination of state and federal transportation funds that have already been secured, Timmons said.
Surveyors are now on site determining what land will need to be acquired for the connection, which needs to jag south to avoid a structure that is already in place.
The project could be put out to bid in the spring and could take nine months or less to finish, Timmons said.
“It could go faster because there will be no traffic relocation issues like on Sims Way or downtown where you have to jiggle things around,” he said.
“This is a pretty straightforward project.”
The city’s preference is to connect with Discovery Road through a roundabout rather than a conventional intersection with a traffic signal, Timmons said.
“We’d prefer a roundabout because it would improve access to the new area and make it easier for trucks to turn around,” he said.
“The cost is about the same because the extra labor needed to construct the roundabout would be offset by the cost of the traffic signal equipment.”
A public meeting to discuss the zoning options is scheduled during a City Council meeting at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 18 in council chambers at historic City Hall, 540 Water St.
Timmons said the approximately 60-acre area will be zoned with a preference for “artisan manufacturing,” which includes space to manufacture a product that includes an adjacent storefront for its sale.
As examples, Timmons mentioned the Mt. Townsend Creamery or Pane d’Amore bakery as the types of businesses that would fit into the new zone.
Restaurants, automotive businesses and storage facilities are examples of those that would not be allowed in order to encourage them to locate in other areas of the city that are zoned for those purposes.
Brent Shirley, who just purchased the Port Townsend Laundromat and Car Wash at 2115 W. Sims Way, said he is part of a group in favor of creating an automotive zone in that area.
The area now has several automotive businesses. Shirley said developing a cooperative marketing and landscaping plan could benefit current businesses and encourage new ones to move into the area.
Following the finalization of the zoning, a conceptual design will be developed to be followed by a final design, Timmons said.
Jefferson County Editor Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or firstname.lastname@example.org.