Old Town Silverdale revitalization plan gains steam

Foot traffic has been down in Old Town Silverdale and some businesses are struggling, which has sparked an effort to revitalize the old quarter. - Wesley Remmer/ staff photo
Foot traffic has been down in Old Town Silverdale and some businesses are struggling, which has sparked an effort to revitalize the old quarter.
— image credit: Wesley Remmer/ staff photo

Despite three previously unsuccessful attempts, some business owners in Old Town Silverdale believe life can be pumped into the old quarter if the effort is united.

About 30 people crammed the Port of Silverdale office Monday to discuss the viability of a revitalization plan, spearhead by Monica Downen, who owns Monica’s Waterfront Bakery & Cafe on Byron Street.

“We need help,” Downen said. “We need the help of each other, and we need more help than that.”

In a predominantly positive vibe, Old Town’s business owners agreed they need to be allies rather than competitors and that it will take a united effort to bring positive change.

The last revitalization effort fizzled about five years ago, said Mary Earl, former owner of Grape Expectations, which closed a year ago. The two efforts before that died, too, Earle said.

But both Earl and Maria Mackovjak, who owns Old Town Custom Framing and Gallery and was part of the most recent revitalization attempt, said there is reason to be optimistic this time.

That’s because the response from fellow business owners, as well as the Silverdale Chamber of Commerce, has been overwhelmingly positive.

“It’s time to put the past behind us,” Mackojak said.

The chamber, under new Executive Director Michael Broome, will play a large role in the effort.

Broome, who was part of a similar project in Anacortes, offered the chamber up as an umbrella organization for the project. But he warned business owners that before they move forward a plan needs to be in place.

He said revitalization efforts are most effective when they are built around a four-part “main street model” — events, marketing, design and beautification and economic restructuring.

Under that plan, he said, there needs to be a committee responsible for each pillar. That way, the work is divvied up and people can focus on individual responsibilities.

Although the response was positive, some business owners said what’s preached needs to be practiced, or else nothing will change.

Lisa Schneider, who owns the TeeDee Company, a consignment store on Carlton Street, said businesses need to help each other and encourage consumers to shop at other Old Town stores.

She has worked in Old Town for about eight years and doesn’t want to leave, despite the fact business has been slow.

“I don’t have a small business to get rich quick,” she said. “And I don’t want to be anywhere other than Old Town.”

Parking was an issue mentioned by Downen, who envisions Old Town as a destination for both locals and visitors.

There is currently four-hour parking in most of Old Town, and not a lot of it, and Downen said that hurts business because people don’t want to worry about moving their cars or getting ticketed.

Earl, however, said four hours allows plenty of time for most people in Old Town, at least residents.

The main issue with parking, she said, is the fact people aren’t allowed to use the large lot on the water because it is owned by the Port and reserved for cars with trailers. Tickets are issued and vehicles are towed when people park there.

“Parking will always be an issue,” Earl said. “That’s something the Port needs to deal with.”

But the next step is to assign leaders to each of the sub-committees under Broome’s four-part model. Once that happens, Broome said, the effort can move forward.

Downen said she hopes to see those people in place sooner rather than later. Once that happens, another meeting will be scheduled.

“We want to roll with the momentum,” she said.

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