It has been and eventful and exciting past year — one my staff and I have enjoyed covering here in Gig Harbor.
Since planning is really the key to us putting out a great product each and every week, I spent some time this week thinking about what major issues in our region we’re going to be keeping an eye on in 2016. Here are a few storylines to follow.
Future of the Canoe and Kayak Race Team
Despite claiming its fourth straight national title in August in San Diego, there are still some lingering questions about where the team’s long-term home should be located.
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The Gig Harbor City Council’s decision in June to accept the Gig Harbor BoatShop’s proposal for the use of Eddon Boathouse over the team’s has the organization still searching for a permanent home.
Coach Alan Anderson said at the time the club was starting to explore other options for a permanent facility — perhaps even beyond city limits. American Lake in Lakewood was one possible destination, Anderson said. Although team officials said they prefer to be in Gig Harbor, the question remains: Is there room for them on the crowded waterfront?
The solution might be the construction of a home base using private and public money. But that is going to take a lot of coordination.
Peninsula Shopping Center redevelopment
I was on board with this project from the very beginning. Done right, I thought it was something that has the potential to be a boon to the downtown area, bringing in a mix of residential and commercial zoning and updating a 1950s-era shopping center in need of a facelift.
Since a flurry of activity and community meetings with Olympic Property Group developers in May, things have since been very quiet. According to our initial reports, there was mostly positive feedback given by those who attended the meetings, which makes the inactivity a bit more surprising.
My initial thought is that the project is dead in the water. I hope that’s not the case. We’ll see if anything changes.
Peninsula School District superintendent hire
This will be a crucial hire for the district, and the Board of Directors know that. The ball is rolling already with the recent news that the district has hired a search firm.
The ideal candidate would be able to connect with the community to raise support and garner excitement about local schools, as we reported last week. That piece is incredibly important, I believe, considering the whole haven’t-passed-a-bond/levy-package-in-ages piece to the puzzle.
That candidate will also need to prioritize the lengthy list of needs when it comes to building maintenance throughout the district.
Grocery store openings
Now that Safeway has been finalized as the new (but not really) tenant at the old Haggen store on Point Fosdick in the Uptown Shopping Center, shoppers can start rejoicing, but the real question is how soon will the shelves be stocked and doors open. I heard an ambitious rumor of late January, but that seems very optimistic.
And with the news (see page 9) of the former QFC becoming a Main and Vine — set to open in February — it should be a very happy couple months for those in Gig Harbor who take grocery shopping very seriously.
Waterfront Millville developments
And how can we leave out the everlasting debate about development on the downtown waterfront? After five months of deliberation, a code amendment that would allow other restaurant types in a portion of waterfront Millville was finally approved by the Gig Harbor City Council back in May.
While there hasn’t been any breaking of ground on restaurant-related projects down there recently, the process of getting approved for permits moves at a snail’s pace. I think this is going to be something that builds off of an initial opening.
Once residents and visitors see that everything can coexist relatively peacefully, other business owners will eventually take the plunge. It can all add up to becoming another section of the city where people can enjoy the views of the harbor while also getting a bite to eat.
Think I left something important off the list? Tweet me or send an email. It should be an interesting 2016.