Envisioning downtown area topic

Over 35 community members turned out May 9 for a conversation on "A City's Center: Rethinking Downtown," hosted by the Jefferson County Library.

Nan Laurence, senior planner for the city of Eugene, who facilitated the conversation as part of the nonprofit Oregon Humanities' statewide programs, said that the turnout was the best she had seen in the state.

"My impression of Madras is that there is so much going on in this little city," said Laurence. "The commitment and tenacity of residents, business owners and civic leaders to create the community that they want to live in is very powerful and also inspiring."

Participants included longtime residents, new residents and even high school students.

Joe Krenowicz, executive director of the Madras-Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, said that his "takeaway" from the event was to "build a community for people who live here by encouraging places for people to congregate."

Laurence suggested that local residents build on the community's assets, which include events and locations, such as the Madras Aquatic Center and the soon-to-be-finished performing arts center at Madras High School, as well as tourist destinations, such as the Cove Palisades State Park, the county's three rivers, the Deschutes, Metolius and Crooked rivers, and the Erickson aircraft museum under construction at the Madras Municipal Airport.

Since there is only one Madras, Ore., she said it's important to showcase the community and emphasize local gathering places, such as the MAC, the Jefferson County Senior Center, Saturday Markets, and cafes.

The idea is that, "Tourists and overnight visitors will find us," said Krenowicz.

For her part, Laurence was impressed with what she saw in Madras, noting, "I am delighted to have visited this community and hope to do so again."

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