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First transformation project meeting deemed a success


Planning — Organizers say high turnout sparked thoughtful discussion, ideas for reshaping Newbergs downtown abundant

While more than 100 people showed up to the Newberg Downtown Coalition Transformation Project meeting Saturday, NDC Executive Director Mike Ragsdale said what was best was the cross section of people in attendance and the energy they brought to the discussion.

“I was very pleased with the turnout. The important thing is we get a good representation of people and a good energy,” Ragsdale said.“I’ve been involved in this stuff for years, and there were a lot of people I’ve never seen, which is great. And we had a whole range of ages.”

Denise Bacon, Newberg City councilor, said she found the meeting inspiring.

“It was a great representation of what Newberg is good at, working together,” Bacon said. “People had great ideas, listened to each other and were improving on other ideas.”

The meeting started with an overview of what participants were there to do: review the history of the past efforts and options for downtown once the Newberg-Dundee Bypass is completed.

“We got a lot of good input,” Ragsdale said. “They clearly wanted public restrooms, they wanted to talk about two-way traffic on First Street, to talk about widening the sidewalk. A lot of things in the old plan were enforced.”

But he said there were some new ideas presented as well.

“I was really interested in the one where they close down the center lane of (First Street) and make the outside lanes into the two-ways with trees in the center. It would make a cozier downtown,” Bacon said. “They talked about adding art elements, ways for the community to feel safe in downtown, pedestrian safety, they covered it all. They really did a great job.

As discussions were broken up into groups, based on which topic people felt they wanted to discuss most, Ragsdale said they still need to analyze the group materials for the next meeting.

“The next step is groups (who) are supposed to prepare the reports in a format that talks about what steps need to be taken, who’s responsible, how much does it cost, what revenue sources ought to be, (etc.),” he said. “It’s taking the idea and turning it into an action plan.”

These plans will be discussed at the next meeting, slated for April 19.

“We meet again in two weeks to put action plans together to come up with a plan overall,” Ragsdale said. “It’ll be everybody that was there is invited to come back, but we’re not starting new with publicity because we want continuation. Anybody that was there and anyone that they want to bring (are invited).”

The next meeting will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Edwards Elementary School cafeteria.