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Vision beginning to take shape

Near the conclusion of the Vision 2022 kickoff meeting on Saturday, Feb. 9, at Kitsap Mall, a consultant asked those in attendance to identify “issues and opportunities” in Silverdale.

The consultant, Rick Sepler of Port Townsend-based Madrona Planning, got an earful from the estimated 70 locals who turned out to discuss the future of Silverdale.

“Traffic, gridlock, is getting worse and worse and worse,” real estate agent Rod Rodriguez said.

There is a “lack of sense of community” here, said Hank Mann-Sykes, a member of the Central Kitsap Community Council.

Silverdale has no “architectural standards, so that the buildings lack any redeeming qualities,” added Cathy Davidson, superintendent of the Central Kitsap School District.

Another person said Silverdale has “too many friendly places for cars, and not enough friendly places for people.”

Others mentioned lack of safe sidewalks, an adequate library and community center, recreational opportunities, and commercial and industrial space.

Plenty of opportunities were enumerated, too: to create new bicycle and walking trails, to increase recreational and tourist uses of Dyes Inlet, and to create non-retail jobs.

Saturday’s meeting was the beginning of a six-month community planning effort, led by the Central Kitsap Community Council, that officials said could radically change the face of Silverdale.

A steering group, which will begin meeting Thursday, Feb. 14, will devise recommendations on subjects like transportation, architectural standards and neighborhood preservation. Those recommendations will be presented to the public on a number of occasions. At the end of the process, the vision plan will be incorporated into the Silverdale sub-area plan, a part of the county comprehensive land-use plan.

At the Feb. 9 meeting, County Commissioner Tim Botkin asked people to “think about what we’d like, not what we’ve been” during the visioning process.

Sepler said many people will believe the visioning process is pointless, because major decisions already have been made.

Creating a vision won’t mean the county’s going to tear down the town and start over, Sepler said. But as new construction and businesses move into Silverdale, the vision plan will begin to leave a mark.

“Over time, these little changes can actually have a big impact,” Sepler said, “and get you to your vision.”

That’s especially true in the realm of transportation, Botkin said.

“We have something like $12 million earmarked for transportation investments for Silverdale, that we’ve held off on until we can finish this process,” the commissioner said. “We want to not just say, ‘We’re building this road because there’s traffic on it’ ... but, ‘We’re making real transportation improvements.’”

County officials asked for volunteers to serve on the steering group which will direct the process with the assistance of county staff members and consultants. A “vision plan” is expected to be complete by Aug. 1.

For information or to get involved in Vision 2022, call Laura Ditmer of the county Department of Community Development at 337-7181.

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