Census says Silverdale doubled since '90

"Perhaps the most striking changes reflected in the 2000 census in Kitsap County were Silverdale's astronomical growth and Bremerton's population decline Silverdale's population grew from 7,660 in 1990 to 15,816 last year - an increase of 106 percent. Bremerton, meanwhile, went from 38,105 in 1990 to 37, 259 in 2000.Overall, Kitsap County's population jumped from 189,731 to 231,969 in 10 years, reflecting the national trend toward suburban growth.Silverdale's growth has affected the community's flavor as well as its economy. It also has presented a new series of challenges, including the need to diversify the regional economy, resolve transportation problems and balance growth management with people's desire to live in rural settings. Some even said the statistics highlight the need to revisit the incorporation question. It doesn't surprise me that we've experienced this growth, said Carl Johnson, president of the Central Kitsap Community Council. Eight or 10 years ago Money Magazine named Cental Kitsap as one of the most desirable places to live in America. We offer a lot of the things people look for - environment, value, quality of life. The real estate industry has acutely experienced the acute effects of growth in Central Kitsap. Realtors saw a lot of construction of single-family dwellings in 1990 through 1997, but it has tapered off in recent years, according Frank Leach of John L. Scott Real Estate, who referred to statistics published by the Kitsap County Department of Community Development.In Silverdale, that growth mostly has translated to higher-priced homes.We've seen some price escalation in recent years, said Bob Vergeer, a sales associate for Silverdale Realty who has worked in real estate for 20 years. As a rule we're evolving into more high-end houses. Vergeer added that some of the price inflation in Silverdale also has affected Bremerton, despite that city's population decline. Ten years ago in Manette you couldn't sell a house for $70,000 - today you're lucky to find a house for that little, Vergeer said.But realtors said implementation of the state Growth Management Act and the creation of the county's own zoning act in 1998 have changed the face of the housing market greatly. Johnson pointed out that Silverdale's growth has created new challenges for the community, and efforts must be made to preserve a high quality of life. He said the community is lopsidedly dependant on the military for jobs, and therefore vulnerable to base closures or cutbacks. We need to attract businesses that fit with our desire for a clean environment and that would provide family-wage jobs, Johnson said. He added that Silverdale is the largest urban growth area in the state that is not incorporated. That begs for future consideration of incorporation, he said.Realtors and community leaders alike envision that Silverdale will continue to grow, but most said there are variables that will affect how much.Being able to put people where they really want to live will be a challenge, said Frank Leach, an associate broker for John L. Scott Real Estate. Middle-income families want to live in semi-rural environments and the zoning laws have pushed the little guy out.Johnson agreed that growth will continue, but said work must be done to improve the transportation system.There are some things that pose challenges, Johnson said. Until we get our transportation issues resolved - the ferries and the second Tacoma Narrows Bridge - we might not see the growth we've had in the recent decade. "

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