Downtown — Coalition slates public meeting to discuss transformation of downtown Newberg

With the Newberg-Dundee bypass underway, the Newberg Downtown Coalition is looking for public input on shaping the downtown area once the traffic is reduced.

“What we want to do is convene everybody that’s interested in talking about the subject into the meeting in how we want to transform downtown after the bypass is open,” said Mike Ragsdale, NDC executive director. “We’re doing an extensive outreach program, going door to door, social media, inserts into utility bills, to get people to the meeting. We want everybody in the city to know they’ve been invited to the meeting. We don’t want anybody to feel we didn’t seek their input.”

Newberg City Councilor Denise Bacon said this is especially important because often when it comes to matters that effect the citizens, people don’t speak up until after decisions have been made and it’s too late.

“I think it’s important when the community asks for opinions that people show up and give their opinions because too often we’re sure that our voices aren’t going to be heard,” Bacon said. “So we’re going all out to make sure peoples’ voices are heard and they have a say in what their downtown is going to look like.”

The meeting, part of the Newberg Downtown Transformation Project, is slated for 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. April 5 in the Edwards Elementary School cafeteria.

“What we want to do is flush out the ideas,” Ragsdale said. “We’ll get (maybe) 50 ideas, then the group will participate in narrowing that down to ideas with the most support and some practicality factored into that.”

Tearing out First Street for a pedestrian walkway, for example, wouldn’t pass the “reality test,” he said. But something like sidewalk improvements might be more realistic.

Bacon said she is in charge of the electronic conversation, primarily through social media. She said some ideas being tossed around include adding front facing parking to First Street.

“This (meeting) is really where we’re going to flush it all out,” she said.

Although it might seem like there is plenty of time to organize and sort through thoughts, Ragsdale said there is a real sense of urgency.

“There is and there isn’t,” he said. “Let’s say hypothetically the group wants to change traffic patterns and make First Street a two-way. To go through the process to get that done may take two years. The time to start laying out plans and the financial structure to be able to implement that is now. That’s why we have a sense of urgency to get on with this.”

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