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A bright future

For the last year, Bremerton’s planning department has been calling on all dreamers, visionaries, idealists, speculators, visualizers and other interested citizens.

The reason? To decide what the city should look and feel like in 20 years.

It is called the comprehensive plan — a guiding master course of action that will eventually be adopted by the City Council.

It provides growth policy framework to control decisions about things such as where people can build houses and set up businesses, what those things will look like and what kind of character certain areas of town should have.

Citizens have also commented on the future effects of population growth, neighborhood stability, education and social aspects, government services, economic diversity, tourism and transportation, just to name a few.

“The whole idea behind these processes is essentially a plan based on a lot of citizen vision that has been boiled down a lot more specifically as you go deeper and deeper,” said Paul Rogerson, planning manager for the city of Bremerton.

He gave a 40-minute presentation to the City Council Wednesday night in a monthly study session about the progress of the comprehensive plan.

It isn’t a cut and dried project.

Since last February, members of the planning department have hosted public hearings, workshops, and committee meetings to extract citizen input.

At last count, at least 1,000 residents have commented in some way according to Matt Keough, planner with the city.

The youngest participants have been high school students who have commented at a couple meetings, and the oldest have been 70-year-old committee volunteers.

“It has been extremely gratifying,” Keough said. “They really do have great expertise. They have been extremely involved. They wanted this opportunity.”

Key to Rogerson’s presentation was the “center’s concept,” the idea that a high proportion of new residences, businesses and other professional use buildings should be placed in little nodes of development, in a walkable setting.

“Center’s typically have one focus amenity — a park, a public square,” Rogerson said. “Something sort of unique.”

Five neighborhood centers were delineated: Manette, Perry Avenue, Sylvan/Pine, Haddon and Kitsap Lake. Three business district centers were also noted: Upper Wheaton, Lower Wheaton and Charleston. Downtown is called the Urban Center.

Currently, the future of Westpark is in a more rudimentary planning stage, and it may or may not be a center, Rogersen said.

Several popular citizens’ ideas were outlined in the City Council study session. Residents want to strengthen neighborhoods so that things like grocery stores and other services are in walking distance. They also want to encourage more transit and travel alternatives other than automobiles. And there was also the need to protect the natural environment, including views, natural areas and open space.

Rogerson expressed his appreciation of all the citizen input, and said that a public review of the comprehensive plan draft is slated for April 1.

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