Community resilience rates as top priority at town meeting, 'Speak Up' survey open online until June 30

By Hannah Ray Lambert of the Leader
Posted 6/29/15

Community resilience was the top priority listed by those attending a June 24 planning meeting regarding an update to the Port Townsend 2016 comprehensive plan.

City planners are continuing to …

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Community resilience rates as top priority at town meeting, 'Speak Up' survey open online until June 30

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Community resilience was the top priority listed by those attending a June 24 planning meeting regarding an update to the Port Townsend 2016 comprehensive plan.

City planners are continuing to seek public comment online through July 15.

"You are the community," Port Townsend Mayor David King said at the start of the meeting at Fort Worden State Park. "There are things that we have not thought of yet that we won't think of on our own."

The comprehensive plan is a document that provides a 20-year planning framework for the social, economic and physical development of the city. The 2016-2036 comprehensive plan updates a previous plan. It needs to be adopted by June 30, 2016 to comply with the Washington State Growth Management Act.

BLUE STICKER VOTES

More than 120 people listened to King and planning director Lance Bailey explain the goal of the comprehensive plan.

A number of those present had also attended a Transition meeting June 18 in Port Townsend, which encouraging public participation in directing elected officials for changes people would like to see happen.

"The [previous] comp plan is a good foundation," Bailey said. "I think we can build on that."

He mentioned that population growth is slower than was projected in the previous plan. Preliminary numbers estimate growth of about 3,052 people from 2016 to 2036. The current population is about 9,355 people, according to the city.

Median household income is 30 percent lower than the statewide median, and the percent of renters (rather than homeowners) is on the rise, Bailey said.

After opening remarks, participants walked around the room, engaging with elected officials and staff, and providing input on the five key issues: planning for transition and community resilience, housing, improving transportation options, jobs and quality of life.

Attendees used two blue stickers, provided to everyone upon entry through the main door, to vote for priorities out of the five options. There was a sixth option, "other," on which some citizens placed their blue dots and wrote additional suggestions.

Transition and community resilience received the most votes, with housing and jobs coming in a close second and third, respectively.

The Transition movement aims to engage community members in initiatives that build community resilience in the face of worldwide challenges, such as climate change and economic crises.

Each of the five priorities had a display and table, where people could write suggestions on index cards.

"We got a stack of index cards," said Judy Surber, senior planning manager. Surber said some community members preferred to fill out the cards while others wanted to chat.

Participant Doug Milholland filled out an index card at the table for improving transportation options. He said the city budget for road repair is insufficient for maintaining the road standards. He said officials should evaluate more cost-effective methods of road repair.

"What about the machinery that paves the road?" he proposed. "Or using liquid tar, which is much less expensive?"

King emphasized that the time for feedback would not conclude at the end of the evening.

"The town meeting will continue online until July 15," King said.

The city recently launched Speak Up, an online platform designed to open discussion on projects, develop informal surveys and collect ideas from residents. King said almost 500 people have already filled out the Speak Up survey, which can be found at

speakuppt.us.

The Port Townsend Public Library provided laptops and iPads, stationed at the back of the room during the meeting, allowing people to learn how to use the website. The survey closes June 30, but online discussion topics are open until July 15.

The draft comprehensive plan is to be released for public review and comment in spring/summer 2016.

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