By Terryl Asla

KINGSTON ─ In 2014, The Port of Kingston received a gift and made a promise. And on Feb. 23, that promise moved one giant step closer to being fulfilled.

In 2014, a local townsperson purchased the three-quarters-of-an-acre property in downtown Kingston that had been the site of the Kingston Inn before it burned down. The buyer, who wishes to remain anonymous, subsequently deeded the property to the Port with the understanding that it would be made into a public park “in perpetuity.”

In 2016, the Port secured a $400,000 RCO grant to build the park. Final permits for the park were approved by the County in Jan. 2018 and, on Feb. 23, bids were opened to determine the apparent low bidder who will make the new park a reality.

The apparent low bidder was Olympic Peninsula Construction. Other bidders included Vet Industrial, Sealevel Bulkhead Builders, PNW Civil, Nordland Construction and Homeland Construction. Olympic Peninsula’s apparent low bid of $280,227 (including tax) was to include excavation, fill, landscaping, lighting, and construction of a public gazebo.

“These are all A List companies,” said Port Executive Director Jim Pivarnik. “The final step is to review their bids for completeness and to check references. Depending on what we find, a contract could be awarded at the Feb. 28 Port Commission meeting.

“Then construction can finally begin,” he said.

The new park will be located on Washington Boulevard, above the ferry parking lot. While waiting to get permits and approvals, the Port has been leasing the property to Diamond Parking on a month-to-month basis.

Pivarnik expects the park to be done by September if not sooner. When completed, it will link together the Port’s other two waterfront parks: Mike Wallace Park on the south above the marina and, on the other side of the ferry parking lot, SaltAir Beach to the north ─ the only white sand beach in Kitsap County.

“We must be careful to always think about all of the development possibilities [for Port properties] in terms of how they can enhance the waterfront experience for everybody,” said Port Commission President Mary McClure. “We’re the only Kitsap port district that owns this much public waterfront green space. It’s very much the essential core of Kingston and the Port feels very keenly its responsibility to enhance that and grow this area appropriately.”

As an added improvement, Kitsap County plans to repave Washington Boulevard and add sidewalks in 2019, the Port’s centennial year.

“The Port and the County are working hand-in-hand on this improvement to downtown Kingston,” Port Executive Director Jim Pivarnik said. “It’s going to be a great project and a good example of County/Port governments’ synergy.”