Edmonds’ Strategic Plan workshop: One young adult’s perspective

By Peter Gibson

As a concerned young adult in Edmonds, I went to Monday night’s Strategic Plan workshop to put my spin on things. The workshop was put on by the City and was based off recent surveys conducted to see where the City needs to focus its attention and plan out for the next 30 years.

These surveys were sent to adults, business owners, employees, retail customers and young Adults. The highest number of respondents was the adult category, with 590 taking the survey.  590! We are a city of 40,000 residents and only 590 adults cared about our future? Or is it because it was not well-publicized? The most depressing number was only 32 young adults shared their thoughts.

The survey narrowed the Strategic Plan topics to four fields: Economic Development-Highway 99 Corridor, Community Development-Downtown/Waterfront, Arts and Culture, and Governance. Since I was one of two “young adults” at this conference, I tried to share a broad viewpoint for all young adults in Edmonds on each topic.

For Economic Development-Highway 99 Corridor, my opinion was that area was becoming more youth friendly, but wasn’t reaching its potential. The Dick’s in Edmonds is one of the best things going for the youth. It is a cheap place to grab a bite to eat and hang out with friends. But it is the only place on the 99 corridor where we can enjoy ourselves. I believe that area could use a bowling alley (because we are losing the one at Westgate), or some other entertainment that would bring revenue to the city, but also benefit the youth.

Downtown Edmonds dies at about 8. Revelations has made it live a little longer. I can’t count the numerous times I have been kicked out of staying at the beach or parks after hours (10 p.m.). I shared that I was the Student Representative on Edmonds Council in 2011, and at 11 p.m. after a meeting I would be starving. There is no non-sit-down place in Edmonds that supplies a quick meal that late. The closest place would be one of the local bars, but they are 21 plus.  We don’t even have a grocery store in downtown that is open past 9 p.m. For the 16-20 age group, we are up late and we want something to do, and fuel to keep us going.

Edmonds is known for its arts. I expressed that Edmonds is known for its “gray hair art” — art that appeals to the eyes of someone 65-plus. I would like to see the youth get more involved in the arts. The city could highlight music that we are interested in and can perform. Or it could have art that young adults have created shown in vacant stores window space around town.

Edmonds is known to young adults at “Deadmonds.” My idea for governance was to get local high school students more involved in local government. Being the City Council’s Student Rep put me more in the loop of what the city was doing. If we got more high school-aged youth involved in the city government, then our word could be heard. My example to the workshop was that if the city could have sent these youth surveys to Edmonds-Woodway High School, then the numbers for the youth section would have significantly jumped. In addition, more students might be interested to see what came from the surveys and be here for the workshops.

This could be the missing puzzle piece that could abolish “gray-haired Deadmonds” and make the city more youth-friendly.

Peter Gibson, a 2011 graduate of Edmonds-Woodway High School, served as the high school’s City Council representative in 2010-11. Gibson is enrolled in the firefighter training program at Everett Community College.

  1. Peter, Thank you for participating. It makes me happy to see that youths like you will be taking care of things when I am old. Bravo!

  2. Down in San Diego there was a coffee shop dedicated to the youth, it was open late, hosted local bands, and kept costs low. I don’t know if there’s a demand here in Edmonds for something like that, but it would be a good option.

  3. Peter,

    Thanks for attending, and thanks for the excellent ideas. By the way, you were one of three young adults who attended – Alex and Trent were the other two. If there were more, I didn’t see them.


    A coffee shop for youth is a good idea. Also, a place to gather, listen to music, perhaps dance, might be another good option for the under 21 year olds. Every resident in that age group I have ever spoken to has complained there is nothing to do in Edmonds, so there is certainly a demand for the right place for youth to gather, later in the evening after all the boring middle aged folks retire for the night.

  4. Peter,
    Thank you for your contribution – both to the workshop and this posting. I appreciate your perspective. You have some great ideas.

    I would like to fill empty stores downtown with art. When I discussed this with City, I was told that there were a couple of issues. First permission is needed from the owner, then there has to be some kind of insurance to cover the art.

    I also agree that music is a great way to engage the youth of our community. I think Edmonds Center for the Arts is a great venue for youth oriented concerts.

    You have a great idea for a coffee shop for youth. Outside of the downtown area it seems that the QFC in Westgate is a rendevous location, especially during college breaks.Dicks is a gathering place, it seems to have filled a need. I see longer lines in the evening than during the day.

    The Strategic Planning process is ongoing. We need to engage our community and figure out how to get more people involved. Any suggestions?

  5. “Deadmonds”? “Gray-haired Deadmonds”? I can see Peter’s point of view. If after serving on the Edmonds City Council as a student rep and all he was ever allowed to do was to be “in-the-know”, then I think it was a travesty on the part of the adult City Council members who were somewhat negligent in listening to Peter as a “young” person. I can relate to Peter’s perception- The young people do not have a voice in Edmonds. I think this should be a platform for Peter to reach his potential- become a Fireman, be stationed in Edmonds, run for City Council, and become Mayor before he is 30 years old. This is how are youth can “revolt” and get involved. I love to hear and read about passionate people. Peter, if you didn’t before, you now have a voice and an excellant platform in which to channel what you think should happen in your City that you love. Hopefully this will inspire other young people to get involved. Way to go! You inspired me to write as well.
    Last night(Tuesday 3/20) my son Oliver and I went to dinner in downtown Edmonds around 7:40pm. We went to El Puerto’s. As Ollie and I were talking I asked my son if there was one thing in Edmonds that you would like to see what would it be? He replied,”I would like to see a working fountain year around”. To compliment what Peter said in his blog is what my son Oliver see’s as a young person. Things are simple. Things become complicated when Adult’s get involved. My son has a voice. All young people have a voice. We adults just need to listen. Anyhow, back to the dinner thing, Ollie and I were looking up 5th Avenue and at 7:45 pm it was pretty dead. My son and I were the only ones in El Puertos (which by the way is my favorite place to eat in downtown “Deadmonds”.
    I too was at the Monday night group meeting. There are a lot of passionate people who care about the well-being of Edmonds. Unfortunately for every positive person there are 4 negative ones as well. So, how can anything ever get accomplished? I am fairly new to the world of City politics and it’s amazing how much of anything ever gets done. I am an older person in Edmonds but I have my kids to keep me in touch with thw young people and I coach basketball for the Boys and Girls Club. It is an honor and a privelge to “serve” in whatever capacity that is put before me. I always tell my kids at the end of each season( i have started over with a new team of Kindergarden/1st graders) that one day if you want to “give back” to your community for all that has been given to you, then become a coach and a mentor to kids. This is how kids ” get a voice” at an early age. By “true leadership” things get accomplished!
    Here’s a thought: For every City Council member maybe there should be at least 3 High school student rep’s to be “mentored”. This would assure that at least 18 kids would have a voice and would learn about politics the right way. Even as an “older” coach my kid’s still teach me new things.
    In closing, positive affirmations will go along way in potentially resolving a lot of issues. Im not naieve, I know that in order for things to work we need cashflow. The City is struggling (I don’t want to be the one who goes on record to say we are “broke”) . We have a New Mayor and I know that he will make it his mission to include the voice of the young. Als I can say to everyone in Edmonds is that we need to move forward and we all need to get involved. The 2% of people who show up to Council meetings, Strategic Planning meetings and other events that the City tries to involve the community with, just will not cut it . We can make a difference! We can change! We can accomplish all the goals for our City. But, it is going to take both young and old to do this. You can’t include one without the other! As for me, i love this City and I know that the majority of you all do as well.
    This message is intended to “inspire” not to point fingers. Get involved!

  6. Not to beat a dead horse, but the ECA has a perfect spot for Friday/Saturday evening dances, mini concerts, open gyms, game nights for kids (large screens set up for Madden football battles), movie nights for kids tied into open gym. Terrace did this years ago and was a big hit. Tie in the local businesses so parents can get discounted dinners and movie tickets while youth are “down the street” staying busy and safe..the gymnasium would fill that need…would be a win win for ECA (more publicity) the youth (something to do) the local business community (revenue that would be new).

  7. Mike, Isn’t the gym at the ECA in need of major repairs? Doesn’t the ECA need access to the gym for their events on occassion? Would it be a win win for the ECA?
    I know that growing up in Seattle (Wallingford) we had the Boys and Girls Club for those activities, but I understand that they are quite a different organization now.

  8. yes, the gym needs repairs no question. The PDF is looking into possibilities w private and public funding. I hope this can be addressed. But the gym is still being utilized for various events including SnoKing basketball, auction, etc. It can be used for above mentioned events as well. The gym is used for various ECA events including auction and some performers require access for setting up and preparing for their main events. But for the most part with planning and coordination I think the gym can be better utilized, thus opening the door for possible donors that have not even attending the site nor donated. Also the PDF was set up for tourism as main objective, by opening the gym to various activities we could attract youth and organizations throughought Snohomish County and other areas.

  9. Ron (Smith),

    Great comments and ideas. One clarification, when Peter was on Council as a student representative, he was not only “in-the-know”, he made excellent, pointed comments at Council meetings, and asked great questions. Strom Peterson, current Council president, and president at that time, referenced Peter’s valuable contributions when saying good-bye to Peter at his last Council meeting. Other council members also praised Peter for his participation.

    Our current city council representative, Alex Springer, also actively participates in the council meetings. I know that I, and fellow council members, greatly appreciate his comments and questions.

    I agree that more student participation is important in planning the future of Edmonds. After all, they will be taking over for us one day.

  10. When the ECA was the Edmonds Junior High School, we had sock hops in the gym. Shoes were taken off to protect the wood floors, lights were turned down and we all danced to record players. Thankfully, technology has improved since.

    Maybe there are opportunites for a “coffee house” at the Edmonds Boys and Girls Club or at the Francis Anderson Center. Or perhaps some local coffee house will extend their hours on Friday and Saturday nights. I could see an all ages venue with an open mic, slam poetry, acoustic music and non-alcholic drinks.

    We only have to look at Seattle and Bellevue for examples of youth oriented city projects.

  11. Boys and Girls Club, parents down the street? Don’t lose sight that Peter was talking about 16 – 20 year-olds. Young adults usually want what slightly older adults want — to mingle, talk, eat, and drink. The difference is that the food needs to be much cheaper and the drinks need to be non-alcoholic. The best way to find out what works is to research what’s already working.

  12. I love the idea of a late night coffee shop/band locale for the under-age set. Instead of putting this in the downtown core area – how about Perrinville? It’s conveniently located between our two high schools.

    Peter – you had great points in our meeting on Monday night. Keep advocating for the youth in our area.

  13. I grew up in Edmonds. Before Revelations, before the many bars and pubs downtown, before the hamburger places such as Hamburger Harrys popped up. Revelations has definitely provided a place for young teenagers to hang out, an age group that had no place to go before, and the bars have brought in young adults 21+.

    However, there is a group that is often left behind in many towns. 18-20 year olds, who are too old to hang out with the younger crowd at revelations, but still too young for the bars. In my experience, there are several ways to draw this age group.

    Someone mentioned a late night coffee shop, with music and other young adult-directed activities. In Wallingford, there is a coffee/bar/game shop, where people of all ages can gather, play board games, and order their favorite drink. This can draw all different kinds of people, and with its late hours is perfect for college aged group. Another activity that has been common amongst my friends and I is pool. Most pool tables are in bars, however, and we have to drive far down highway 99 to find a spot that is dedicated just to pool. Some combination of game shop, coffee shop, music venue, and pool tables would be a perfect place for young adults (too old to hang around revelations, but too young for the bars) to gather and have fun.

    Just remember, we like to stay up late. Edmonds’ habit of closing everything before 10pm has earned it its nickname, Deadmonds.

  14. I apologize, I meant to say ages 16-20.

    Also, Perrinville may be a good gathering place, and it has many empty buildings, and a need to draw in customers.

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