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"Architects to visit, assess Oak Harbor"

"Can you imagine an image that represents the worst thing about Oak Harbor?How about an empty building, a fast food restaurant, the endless blacktop of a parking lot or Highway 20 traffic?How about the best things about the city? City Beach Park, the boats on the harbor, children playing at a school or a fighter jet flying overhead?A new group in Oak Harbor called Harbor Pride wants the community to think about these questions. Then they want people to grab a camera, go out and actually take photographs of the images they believe represent the best and worst things about Oak Harbor.Patti Carter, the treasurer for Harbor Pride, said the group is holding a photo contest of sorts to get public input for the group's Blueprint For Change project.They want people to submit five photos of the things they like about Oak Harbor, five photos of the things they don't like, plus a description of what they would like to see in the city.We want to make sure all the segments of the community can participate, Carter said, even if they can't come to the meetings.This September, local architect Terry LeDesky, Harbor Pride and the Northwest Chapter of the American Institute of Architects are bringing in a group of volunteer architects to assess the community's needs and wants. Ultimately, the design assistance team will create a list of priorities for projects aimed at revitalizing Oak Harbor.Carter said the design assistance team will hold a public workshop Sept. 14 to get input from the community about the city's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. They will also look at the photos submitted by community members. The next day, the team will tour the city, then hold another meeting that night.Then on Sept. 16, the team will work on recommendations all morning and present a proposal that afternoon. The proposal, Carter said, will present the the prioritized list of recommendations to the community. The list, she said, will include at least a couple of short-term projects, plus other more long-range projects.After that, Harbor Pride is planning a community barbecue.But to get there, Carter said there must be a sense of consensus about what is wrong, what is good about the city, and where the community should go from here.Unlike other projects in the city - many of which never get off the ground - Carter said Harbor Pride's goal is to get the entire community involved from the beginning so there is a buy in.The 10 photos and a list of five things you would like to see in Oak Harbor can be turned in at Pony Mailing and Business Center at 316 SE Pioneer Way. The packet should include a listing of the shots taken, your name, phone number and age. The deadline is Aug. 31.For those without a camera, Carter said the group has a limited supply of disposable cameras that people can use.Harbor Pride is also looking for volunteers and donated services and supplies for the three-day event. Anyone interested can contact Carter at ponymail@whidbey.net or call Helen Chatfield-Weeks at 675-5464 or helencw@whidbey.net. "

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