Stanfield seeking volunteers for revitalization committee

<p><strong>The City of Stanfield is looking for volunteers to serve on a downtown revitalization committee. City officials would like to make the downtown more attractive and inviting to visitors and to new businesses.</strong></p><p><strong> </strong></p>

Stanfield city officials are seeking community members for a volunteer steering committee that will oversee efforts to revitalize the city’s Main Street and downtown area.

After working with members of the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development and MIG, a planning consulting firm, the City of Stanfield now has a 36-page report detailing a list of improvements that could be made to help revitalize the downtown. Some of those ideas include implementing a color scheme for all downtown commercial properties; creating a facade grant program that would provide an incentive for business owners if they give their business fronts a face lift; establishing a possible tax incentive program so the city could start generating funds for future projects; and improvements to the city’s sidewalk systems along Highway 395.

City Manager Blair Larsen said most of those suggestions won’t be possible without support and consent from community members. He said the revitalization committee, for which the city is seeking members, would take a certain amount of ownership for the downtown project by submitting ideas, organizing events and more. He said the group would help to provide some positive direction for improvements people would like to see in Stanfield’s downtown.

“We want to make sure that everybody knows that the success of the Main Street revitalization depends on (its residents) as much as it depends on me and the city,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be starting a business or managing a property, we just need volunteers and people telling the city what they think is important.”

Larsen said while he will be doing a lot of the initial work on grants, identifying other funding sources and researching how the city can start a tax increment finance or facade grant program, the committee could get straight to work developing a brand for Stanfield, a possible color scheme for the downtown and a schedule for when they want to accomplish certain projects. He said it would be ideal if the group met on a monthly basis.

“Even if they are short meetings, that would still provide positive direction for me,” he said.

Larsen said he hopes to encourage all Stanfield residents to participate because input from community members on what they hope to accomplish with the downtown is crucial.

“It is surprisingly difficult to get opinions out of people,” Larsen said. “We just don’t hear from people. We want to hear from people on changes they want to see.”

During the City Council’s last meeting, councilors and Mayor Thomas McCann offered suggestions on what they would like to see done first to the city’s downtown.

City Councilman Jack Huxoll said he would like to see improvements to City Hall because it needs serious updating. He said, like members from MIG presented, a starter project could be to revamp the building or even move it to a new location and start fresh. Huxoll said the building is currently not very inviting to the public.

“It looks like City Hall’s closed up for the winter all the time,” he said.

McCann said he would like basic aesthetics of the downtown to be dealt with first. He said improving the city’s signage and redoing the city’s development code would make a world of difference. That would take volunteer time and public comment, however, he pointed out.

Other suggestions included finding and/or raising money for an electronic reader board; the construction of sidewalk bulb-outs along Highway 395; and adding a median or several medians on the highway, which could help to deter people from speeding through town.

McCann said that he thinks Highway 395 should remain four lanes as it has dramatically reduced the number of accidents on that road, but a lot more could be done with the street. Larsen said, if the city does install medians, officials are sensitive to the needs of business owners on both sides of the street.

“We want to maintain access for all those businesses,” he said.

Larsen said he hopes to gather volunteers for the new committee in the next few weeks. People interested in serving should contact City Hall at 541-449-3831. The report submitted from MIG on suggestions for the revitalization is online for public download at www.cityofstanfield.com.

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