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Construction underway on plaza


Work begins on creating area that will showcase cultural center and host community events

Construction began on a plaza before the Chehalem Cultural Center in late September with hopes to be completed by mid-December.

“The contractor gave the date of Dec. 1, providing they were able to work every single day,” said Don Clements, Chehalem Park and Recreation District superintendent. But with the heavy September rains, construction has been a little delayed.

“But (the contractor) may make it still, who knows,” Clements said.

The project is a partnership between the city of Newberg and CPRD, working on Sheridan Street between School Street and Blaine Street. by: GARY ALLEN - Excavation contractors set about preparing Sheridan Street for installation of a plaza before the Chehalem Cultural Center

“It’s a road improvements project,” said Jason Wuertz, city project manager.

He said the street, sidewalk and sewer will be improved, as well as adding a forecourt area for the cultural center.

“It will make it a pedestrian-friendly street that can be closed for events,” Wuertz said. This includes Tunes on Tuesday summer concert series and the popular farmers market, now held on city land across from city hall on First Street.

For now, a two-block stretch of Sheridan Street is closed, meaning visitors to the cultural center need enter through the back entrance, but Caleb Thurston, center programming coordinator, said this hasn’t been an issue since that is the same area as their parking lot.

“And we still have handicap access,” Thurston said.

He said in the end the project will make the area much safer for pedestrians, so it’s worth the inconvenience.

“In the long term it will be extremely positive,” he said. “We’re going to be that much more connected with the library and green spaces to create the look and feel of a cultural district.”

The cultural district, according to the city of Newberg website, was envisioned in 2011 with the growth of the area surrounding the Newberg Public Library, cultural center and Rotary Centennial Park.

“The vision of the city of Newberg, Chehalem Park and Recreation District, Newberg Downtown Coalition, neighbors, and stakeholders is to identify and strengthen the cultural district as a gathering place where people can discover the literary, artistic and historical culture of the area, attend a class or program, check out books, view an exhibit, participate in a community event, or simply sit on a bench and visit with a friend,” according to the site.

Wuertz said construction is being completed by Kodiak Pacific Construction with a contract totaling $847,595. The city is paying $554,507 and CPRD’s portion is $293,088. He said the city’s portion of the funding is coming from Federal Exchange Funds — which come from the street maintenance budget and gas tax revenue.

Clements said anytime there’s an opportunity to save money, CPRD takes it, which is why they are teaming up with the city for this project. By working together, both sides save on set-up fees from the construction company, “which can alleviate some of the cost,” he said.

For more information about the project, visit www.newbergoregon.gov.