SEASIDE — The public had a final opportunity to directly participate in crafting a comprehensive vision that is meant to guide the City of Seaside into a bright future over the next two decades.

On Monday, the city’s Visioning Committee held a town hall meeting as the next step in its visioning process, titled “Seaside 2034: Building a Bridge to Our Future.”

About 50 people turned out for the meeting, which was held at the Bob Chisholm Community Center. The Portland-based strategic planning and consulting firm, Coraggio Group, facilitated the town hall meeting.

“This is the biggest and most important piece of what you people have given over the months,” Mayor Don Larson said to the group assembled for the meeting.

Since the project was started in October 2013, the Visioning Committee has conducted several surveys and community meetings based on key topics, including family features, environment, business development, arts and culture, public safety and parks and outdoor recreation.

“Our visioning ... is extremely thoughtful, it’s inclusive and it has really been engaging,” Larson said.

The project aims to predict the needs and expectations that Seaside residents and visitors will have in the next 20 years.

Matthew Landkamer, of the Coraggio Group, said the public will receive both short- and long-term feedback from their participation in the visioning process.

The visioning team will put together a wrap-up of the information gathered so far and distribute it to the public via the city’s website and other outlets.

The vision also will guide the councilors in deciding what projects to do, as well as what not to do, for many years to come, Landkamer said. In order to be effective, a vision must be relevant, timeless and connected, he said.

Trever Cartwright, also a consultant with the Coraggio Group, said the town hall was a chance for people to collaborate and turn their insights into something tangible.

“The purpose of the evening is to get more perspective from all of you who care so much about your city,” he said.

Part of the process

The meeting was very interactive and engaging. Participants were split into two groups. The groups individually constructed a theme, perspective and statements to express what they would like to see happen in the city through the visioning process.

Each group split into six subgroups to focus on one of the six key topics designated for the process. After generating a few significant ideas related to each topic, the participants worked to connect a few ideas that made sense together.

For instance, the business subgroup connected schools to the idea of having better publicity to youth for jobs and creating more year-round jobs to holding events for teens and families and lastly to infrastructure, both physical and as it relates to the workforce.

During the third step, each large group molded a cohesive perspective to share as input with City Council using a Mad Libs-style process where members filled in preconstructed statements with words specific to their desires and goals.

One group determined it would like Seaside to be a place where families can live and thrive; businesses can prosper and contribute; and visitors can enjoy the city’s affordable recreational and cultural activities.

Unlike any other coastal community in Oregon, Seaside is unique because it is a place where vacation feels like home, the group decided. Lastly, for people who value an authentic small-town feel, Seaside is an ideal place to relax, renew, enjoy nature and create memories.

The group’s overall theme was “happy, healthy, inspired.”

‘Safe and livable’

The second group, which underwent an identical process at the Seaside Public Library, came up with a different theme: “We value a safe and livable community.”

Unlike any other coastal community in Oregon, Seaside is different because it provides both resident and visitors with multiple opportunities to nurture families and enjoy nature in a safe community environment, the second group decided.

The difference is evidenced by the way Seasiders work, play and live and also in the way they honor the natural environment, according to the group.

Nitya Wakhlu, a visual strategist, created large posters decorated with drawings and symbols to encapsulate the discussions of both groups and the visioning process as a whole.

After each group had finished its individual work, everyone gather together for a final joint discussion so each group could share the insight it had generated. The topics were fleshed out more thoroughly at that time.

Participants talked about issues they would like to see emphasized or looked at during the visioning process. Those issues included traffic, public safety, ecotourism, family activities, Seaside’s heritage, parking, quality of life and outdoor recreation.

A shared desire was for more biking, hiking and walking trails to be made.

The big one

Several people said they would like the schools to be built outside of the tsunami inundation zone. If new schools are built, though, they would like to see those schools belong more to the entire city by fashioning them to have multiple community uses.

As per usual, preparing for the danger of a tsunami was a concern on the public’s mind. Local resident Angela Fairless said the vision should guide the city to be spiritually, economically and physically, or literally, “elevated,” referring to tsunami preparedness.

The perspectives crafted at the meeting will go before Seaside City Council in August and September. Councilors will put the two perspectives, and other data, into one cohesive vision to guide their strategic decisions as they set goals for the city.

The next City Council goal-setting session will take place in January or February 2015.

For more information, visit www.cityofseaside.us/2034-visioning, email visioning@cityofseaside.us or call City Hall at (503) 738-5511.

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