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Design-oriented group looks at Mount Angel

A group of university students have been studying Mount Angel, and local citizens were able to join in the research and share real-life experiences of the local town in a design charrette July 26.

University of Oregon professor Ric Stephens and his “Green Cities” class of 35 students visited Mount Angel for the day, where they took a tour, interacted with locals and shared design ideas that would affect Mount Angel’s sustainability. The Oregon Department of Land Conservation and Development, which pointed the class in Mount Angel’s direction, also took part in the dialogue of the day.

“The idea is to adopt a community, go there and figure how to introduce green measures and sustainability into the downtown vision,” City Administrator Eileen Stein said. “Hopefully, it will create a sense for residents how Mount Angel could be improved and how we can build on our strengths.”

Stein said the exercise held at the Mount Angel Fire Hall was a success, with between 25 and 30 community members spending the whole day with the group.

“I wish we had more from the community, but the people who were there felt motivated and inspired throughout the day,” Stein observed. “They were great, they worked well with the students and gave them more perspective.”

A highlight of the day was a Skype chat with a group from Gdansk University of Technology in Gdansk, Poland, that is also researching Mount Angel for a “public space” class.

“They’ve been researching Mount Angel and doing their own research on how to design good public spaces, obviously using Europe as their primary examples,” Stein said. “They gave a Powerpoint (presentation) on ideas we could use. That was really neat.”

Ideas ranged from making downtown more utilitarian, such as having a grocery store or even a farmers market available, while other ideas favored aesthetics, such as painting fire hydrants like Bavarian townsfolk.

“There were lots of interesting ideas that were expressed,” Stein said. “The flip charts, notes, sketches, all of that went with Ric and the students back to Eugene. They’re going to continue to work on ideas and refine them.”

Those ideas will be compiled and presented to the city at the end of the class, which ends later this month. Each student is writing their own paper on a different idea to implement in Mount Angel. The Gdansk class will also submit a report after it ends in September.

“I’m not sure if it will be one or two reports,” Stein said. “(The two classes’ findings) will be presented in the fall.”

Although the presentations won’t necessarily mean there will be any changes to Mount Angel, it certainly gets the wheels turning, Stein said.

“Sometimes you have to come up with the vision before people come out and think, ‘That’s something we want to fund,’” she said. “I hope something happens, at least some low-hanging fruit.”

She pointed out Mount Angel has many needs, such as making one of the main intersections in town safer, upgrading the gazebo and public restrooms downtown and replacing the aging City Hall. She said that the project could also inspire business owners to work toward the city’s vision, like doing work on their façade to align with Mount Angel’s Bavarian look, like Bochsler’s Hardware is currently doing. This can be done with a matching grant the city has available from the county.

“Some improvements will be expensive,” Stein said. “Part of it is making it more aesthetically pleasing, making it a nice place to visit and enjoying a little bit of this heritage.”

Lindsay Keefer covers Hubbard, Mount Angel and St. Paul. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-765-1193.



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