Urban Renewal Agency hosts community meeting
Community interest in creating a safer, more user-friendly multi-modal environment in the Hood River Heights is high, evidenced by the turn-out at the June 4th community meeting at the Hood River Armory. Around 90 attendees gathered to learn and offer input on near and longer-term redevelopment plans.
The Heights is Hood River’s third and newest urban renewal district, and the community meeting hosted and facilitated by the Hood River Urban Renewal Agency brought together three other organizations — Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT), Streets Alive!, and Greenworks PC — to present upcoming projects and allow opportunities for questions and feedback.
ODOT Crosswalk Modifications
Representatives from ODOT discussed crosswalk modifications scheduled to occur soon in the commercial area long 12th and 13th streets between May and Belmont. Three marked “piano-key” crosswalks with improved signage and additional pavement striping will be installed on 12th Street, five marked crosswalks installed on 13th Street, and five crosswalks installed on side streets. ODOT hopes new marked crosswalks will encourage pedestrians to use the safest intersections for crossing and plans to remove existing crosswalks that don’t meet current standards due to poor lighting, visibility, or lack of curb ramps, among other things. An existing unapproved marked crosswalk at 13th and Taylor streets will also be closed. Under Oregon law, every intersection is a crosswalk whether marked or unmarked, unless it is signed “crosswalk closed.” For details on crosswalk modifications and locations, visit tinyurl.com/heightsxwalks2019.
Check the cities Facebook page for more information and input opportunities.
Urban Renewal Demo Projects
Members of the Urban Renewal Advisory Committee (URAC) and Urban Renewal Agency (URA) explored potential demo projects at the community meeting with the help of Kathy Fitzpatrick and Streets Alive! volunteers. Fitzpatrick, mobility manager for Mid-Columbia Economic Development District has been contracted by the URA to organize and prioritize projects in the Heights Urban Renewal Plan. Since substantial projects are years away, Fitzpatrick, and Streets Alive! co-founder (and Planning Commissioner) Megan Ramey developed alternatives and activities to gain public input on prospective demonstration projects for crosswalks, bikeways and neighborways. Projects could ultimately be used in applications with ODOT for an extended term (11-months maximum) temporary demonstration. “Demo projects are useful for implementing improvements more quickly, and also offer opportunities to gather real data on design concepts to inform future permanent improvements,” explained Will Norris, Hood River’s Finance Director / Assistant City Manager.
A Neighborway is a residential street where automobiles are “guests” and pedestrians and non-motorized vehicles find safe, calm, low traffic volume conditions.
Hood River Streets Alive!, an independent community group that fosters safe streets and welcoming public spaces, shared plans for its second Heights event featuring temporary street closures, demo projects, entertainment and activities on September 29, 2019. Organizers say this year’s event will be more expansive than last years in many ways, when 1500 attendees tripled expectations. Demo crosswalks were installed for last September’s Streets Alive! event in the Heights and remained for a period of a few weeks, with generally positive feedback. The group seeks volunteers and sponsorships for the 2019 event. Interested parties may submit an online form at Hood River Streets Alive! volunteer page.
Greenworks PC, an urban design firm, introduced themselves and their project team. The company was selected by the Urban Renewal Agency to create an implementation plan for Heights redevelopment projects. An implementation plan will include enhanced streetscapes, traffic calming measures, pedestrian / bicycle features and other functional or decorative elements. The plan will also cover character, connectivity, transitional zones, and opportunity spaces. Greenworks’ nine-month planning project kicks off this summer with future opportunities for public participation as a plan is created for longer-term Heights urban renewal projects.
The Heights Urban Renewal District encompasses approximately 96 acres along State Highway 281 in Hood River. The district has been accruing tax increment financing since it was established in 2011. Its maximum indebtedness, or the limit on the district’s borrowing, is set at $8,495,000. Heights District accruals have positioned it well to initiate more significant redevelopment investments. In anticipation of available funding, several well-attended community meetings were held in late 2017 to prioritize projects identified in the original Hood River Heights Urban Renewal Plan.
As Greenworks begins its implementation plan project, the Urban Renewal Advisory Committee (URAC) will meet on June 20 to review, modify, and potentially make recommendations on long-term demo project design concepts to forward to the Urban Renewal Agency for consideration. The URA will likely deliberate and decide whether to apply for extended period demo projects through ODOT at an upcoming summer meeting.
For further information on the Height Urban Renewal Plan, visit this link. Interested parties may also stay informed on project news by updating your City Connect preferences here.
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