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Breathing new life into Old Town Silverdale

To revitalize Old Town Silverdale, the business community will need a theme, but it will also need some backing to get off the ground.

Monica Downen, who owns Monica's Waterfront Bakery & Cafe on Byron Street, is spearheading the idea and met Thursday with Port of Silverdale Commissioner Lawrence Greaves and Silverdale Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Michael Broome to discuss the viability of breathing new life into Silverdale's old quarter.

"I am an instigator, so I want to start something," said Downen. "If we start small, I'm hoping we can get more people down here with ideas."

With businesses shutting down and moving out of Old Town, foot traffic is decreasing, and in turn, so is business. Since November, Downen has seen at least three businesses move out of Old Town or close its doors all together.

Jeanette's Old Town Flowers moved from Old Town to Allyn in November. A Company of Friends, which moved from the Perry Avenue Mall to Old Town in June 2005, is no longer on Byron Street, nor is the Sylvan Learning Center.

All those spaces remain vacant.

Kataluma Chai, a chain store, is the most recent business to move to Old Town. And that was last summer.

"I think it's a great place down here, but I think we can make it a whole lot better," Downen said.

Broome, who was part of a revitalization project in Anacortes, said the project has the backing of the Chamber.

He presented what he called a four-part "main street model," designed to increase foot traffic. The model is based on a theme, similar to the Little Norway theme of Poulsbo, and centers around community events, marketing and promotion, economic restructuring and beautification.

He said it would work best to have an umbrella organization, or a task force, oversee those operations, divvying up the responsibilities to smaller groups or individual people.

At the very least, he said, some sort of model needs to be in place.

"It's not that difficult once you get people excited," he said. "You tell them, 'Here is the plan, here are the steps.' And then they get on board."

Greaves, who has been with the port since 2001, also said he is behind the plan.

However, he called it an "uphill fight."

There is another meeting from 4 to 6 p.m. Feb. 22 at the Port of Silverdale office, 3550 Northwest Byron Street, Silverdale.

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