SEASIDE - A group of approximately 45 people met at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center to shape the future of Seaside Monday.

Even with the turnout, Gary Diebolt, city councilman and co-chairman of the Vision 20/20 Committee, said more participants from the community were always welcome.

"Even if they missed the meeting tonight, they can still come to the next two or three meetings," said Diebolt.

Volunteers were divided into six small groups to address needs seen in the areas of building and land, city services, safety and security, tourism and business, religion and social services, parks, environment, arts and culture, and health care and education.

Each group was "captained" by one person who will be responsible for organizing group meetings, facilitating discussion of the various topics under their group heading, maintaining communication with current volunteers and recruiting more people for their group.

"I get a lot of comments and questions about where we're going and where we're going to be in 20 years," said Mayor Don Larson. "This is the group that's going to do that. I'm very excited about this."

Planning Commissioner and Co-chairman of the Visioning Committee Bill Hubbard discussed the needs identified at the February meeting of the Visioning Committee and also the strengths and weaknesses of the city as reported in the survey that was given to the community. Hubbard and Diebolt collected 250 completed surveys from residents and visitors to help guide the visioning discussion. Predictably, the Prom, the beach and the Cove were among the top five strengths for the city. Traffic, drugs and appearance were listed among the top five weaknesses for Seaside.

"This group needs to be objective, not prejudiced," said Hubbard. "You don't have all the answers. No one expects you to. This is to determine a need and how we're going to fill it."

The next meeting for the Vision 20/20 Committee will be held June 4 at the Seaside Civic and Convention Center and is open to the public. At that time, each small group will give a 20-minute presentation on their progress and ideas. Each group's suggestions will be refined and merged into a larger plan that will be presented to the council to help guide the direction of Seaside in the future.

"I think those of us who have moved to Seaside have higher expectations than those who grew up here," said Diebolt. "If you've been here a long time, you see it slowly change but if you're a newcomer, coming into a community, you have higher expectations."

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