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City officials answer questions, listen to citizen comments about preliminary concepts

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: AECOM - The preliminary concepts in the Pleasant Street Master Plan include realigning Shelley Avenue with Alt Avenue and creating a plaza where Alt Avenue sits now. City of Sandy officials and community members came together on March 14 for an evening dedicated to the Pleasant Street Master Plan. For three hours, city staff made themselves available to answer questions and provided conceptual representations of their ideas for the street that runs parallel to the downtown business district.

The long-term hope of the city is to expand its core by making Pleasant Street more accessible from downtown, connecting facilities like the proposed Sandy Community Campus to the Sandy Public Library, but how the city intends to do that is still up in the air.

Emma Porricolo, downtown planner for the city, said the plan is to create a "hub in the community."

The plan thus far includes moving utility lines in the area underground, realigning Alt Avenue with Shelley Avenue and integrating some kind of public art into the neighborhood to make it more appealing. Staff also plans to make the downtown sidewalks more ADA accessible, touting the three main goals of "safety, access and connection."

These concepts, depicted through renderings and written explanations, were tacked up on the walls of the Sandy Public Library's community room last Wednesday. Participants were given the opportunity to express the pros and cons of what they saw directly on the posters. They also were asked to rank possible outdoor furniture and colors for the proposed plaza that could be created where Alt Avenue currently sits.

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: AECOM - The city has several 'improvements' in mind for Pleasant Street, including placing utility lines underground and creating and repairing sidewalks. 
Some residents of the Pleasant Street neighborhood saw the more cosmetic aspects presented as a bit premature.

"I like the plan, but they're kind of vague still about what's going to happen and the cost," Pleasant Street resident Ben Brown said. "If they're going to involve the public, they need to give us more information."

"I think voting on things like furniture colors is a little too soon before we have any real details of what's actually going to happen," Amanda Brown added.

The couple, however, also said they liked the ideas of "improving traffic flow and pedestrian accessibility" and installing utility lines underground.

"I really like the idea of undergrounding utilities," Amanda Brown said. "I think it could add some curb appeal."

Several business owners also came out to voice their opinions, some positive and others negative.

Ron Lesowski, co-owner of Tollgate Inn Restaurant and Bakery, said he had concerns about pedestrian safety with the proposed realignment and creation of a public space so near busy Highway 26.

"The traffic's only going to increase," he said, adding that keeping the Sandy Public Library where it is on Proctor Boulevard/Highway 26 and encouraging people to cross the street toward Pleasant is a safety hazard. He suggested either putting in an above-ground pedestrian walkway or moving the library into the Sandy Community Campus.

POST PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - Several business owners and community members came out to the Pleasant Street Master Plan open house on March 14 to voice their opinions, some positive and some negative."If you really want to have a public space, put it over there," Lesowski said.

As a business owner who has already set up shop on Pleasant Street, La Bamba owner Carlo Vincenttin told The Post he likes the plan to expand the downtown core and add commercial properties to the neighborhood.

"It think it's great," Vincenttin said. "In time, if it develops into a business-sector area, it would be easier to get to and through."

After all was said and done about 90 people came through the Pleasant Street Master Plan open house that night.

"It was a success," said downtown planner Emma Porricolo. "(People) gave very comprehensive feedback."

Over the course of the evening, Porricolo definitely heard her fair share of negative and positive comments, noting that the proposed plaza generated some praise.

"I think a lot of people really liked the idea that this could be a gathering place for the community, and build community in Sandy," she noted.

On the flip side, she added, "people were concerned about the funding sources and if their taxes would go up."

"The answer to that is no. But that is a valid concern," Porricolo said.

POST PHOTO: BRITTANY ALLEN - City officials were on hand in full force to answer questions and take public comments on the preliminary concepts proposed by the Pleasant Street Master Plan.Porricolo emphasized that the ideas presented at the open house are just that — ideas, and nothing more.

"This was more to get people engaged and excited about the project," she said. "The responses aren't the finalized concepts. (The sticker activity to choose furniture and color schemes) was just to get a general sense of a theme. We are trying to do something that's kind of unique in Sandy."

Porricolo plans to host a few different additional events to generate community input and discuss concepts further with stakeholders such as the Oregon Trail School District, which would be greatly affected in the area of Sandy Grade School.

The Post will provide information on those events as they are announced.

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