Skirting Process, Bremerton Makes Beautiful Public Spaces

<p>Landscape architect Gary Sexton worked on a tight budget and dodged commissions and regulations to create a beautiful vision for downtown Bremerton (near Seattle).</p>
June 25, 2008, 8am PDT | Tim Halbur
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"'We had no money,' says Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman, the hammer behind the park and other recent downtown renovations. 'Everything's been done through partnerships with state and federal government. No tax increases. We've had to be pretty creative.'

When Bozeman arrived in Bremerton in 1993 -- he had been a city councilman and the mayor of Bellevue -- he found a decaying downtown and a waterfront mainly being used for naval shipyard parking. When he canvassed the town in his first run for office in 2002, he heard from a lot of proud people who were deeply angry that downtown had been left to rot. Once elected, he says, 'We knew we had a mandate.'

Bozeman hired Gary Sexton, a lawyer and avocational landscape designer, as the city's director of economic development. Sexton assembled the deals and stood out in the winter rain orchestrating placement of trees and boulders. He dodged committees and commissions. When the parks director told him he couldn't place two climbable stone sculptures close together in the children's play area -- kids might fall off one and bash heads on the other -- he renamed it an "interactive art area" and situated the rocks where he wanted."

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Published on Monday, June 23, 2008 in The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
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