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Teens offer their Vision for Silverdale's future

What will it take to make Silverdale a more youth-friendly community?

Five Olympic High School students, members of the Silverdale Vision 2022 steering committee, have plenty of ideas.

“I think the community should be able to come together and not be so spread out like in Silverdale, where people barely know each other,” said sophomore Robert Watkins. “People just shop and leave.”

Other students said they would like to see more recreational facilities, a more pedestrian-friendly environment and greater participation by community members in decision-making.

The Central Kitsap Community Council is leading the six-month Silverdale Vision 2022 community planning effort. The project will attempt to plan the 20-year future of Silverdale, including land use, transportation, recreation, environmental and architectural components.

Youth participants recently surveyed 60 high school-aged students from Olympic and Central Kitsap High School about Silverdale’s best assets. They narrowed the multitude of responses to five categories.

“Some people were confused, but most were excited to voice their opinions,” said sophomore Neeci Monroe.

The bulk of students — 43 of 60 — called Silverdale Waterfront Park the gem of the community. They also tabbed Whaling days, the traditional Silverdale Christmas Tree, Kitsap Mall and hangouts like Barnes and Noble and Red Robin as assets.

“From the data we collected, we realized the things that mean the most in Silverdale were places people could hang out, places that don’t cost money,” said sophomore Amber Lambert.

The survey, which will be presented at a Vision 2022 Community Workshop today, April 27, also found strong opinions on transportation.

“Lots of high school kids were concerned with traffic on (State Route 303) and Ridgetop Boulevard. They said it can take them a half hour to get across town,” Watkins said.

Youth steering committee members said it was important to include young people in the process because they represent the next generation of people who will live in Silverdale. The students’ thoughts also added diversity.

“You can’t just have senior (citizens) and middle-aged people. There has to be a variety,” Monroe said.

The role of the five students on the steering committee is to be “the eyes and ears of the young adults in Kitsap County,” said Laura Ditmer, a Kitsap County community planning manager.

She said the students will participate in the process through the summer.

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