Master planning for Town Center kicks off
The lobby of Wilsonville City Hall was transformed into a reception area Feb. 28 for the Town Center Master Plan kickoff.
A multilingual and multigenerational crowd quickly formed at the registration tables and information stations with aerial shots of the existing Town Center area with staffers and translators positioned beside them.
Promptly at 6 p.m., organizers called attendees into the council chambers for a project presentation. Long-range Planning Manager Miranda Bateschell and planning consultant Chris Beynon of MIG began with a history of the planning and envisioning of Town Center over the years. The most recent iteration dated back to 1973 and painted a more rural community than the one that has sprouted up around city.
"The Town Center is a really important part of the community," Bateschell said. "Tonight is really where we start setting the vision (for the Town Center)."
Beynon took over the 30-minute presentation with a series of examples of how communities around the country are utilizing their town center spaces. His slides focused on fun, functional and artful usages that incorporated green spaces that play-up local and regional draws, such as parks and retail. But Beynon made it clear that his examples should inspire conversation rather than act as cookie-cutter molds that Town Center should be stuffed into.
"(Wilsonville's) mix of uses is pretty unique," Beynon said of the city's clustering of activities around Town Center. "You all have a central mass here."
Unlike other cities that grew off of a main street and are limited to a narrow area, Wilsonville is primed to create its own hub of activity that is more than a commercial center, Beynon said.
"But what do you think?" Beynon asked. "That's what we're here for tonight."
Attendees were asked at the end of the presentation to go upstairs to participate in a group brainstorming activity to identify top priorities and goals for the future of the 100-acre Town Center area.
Groups were broken down based on the numbers written on their nametags with children in attendance invited to participate in a brainstorming session to identify their desires for the area.
Gathered five to 10 to a table, participants were asked to describe what the Town Center is currently to them and to identify areas for improvement and envisioned opportunities.
"Today, I see it as a parking lot surrounded by stores," resident and task force member Hilly Alexander said.
Table 7 participant and owner of several business spaces in the Town Center complex, Doug Seely, seconded Alexander's comment.
"The internal circulation is driveway to driveway," Seely said. "It's just a series of parking lots."
The rest of the table agreed and added that on top of the circulation issues, poor or nonexistent signage indicating streets from parking lot driveways creates a sense of confusion while trying to navigate the area.
One particular feature of confusion is on Parkway, simply referred to as "the bump" next to Regal Wilsonville Stadium 9 where Parkway Court becomes Parkway Place. This particular section of road, appearing to be a cul-de-sac or driveway entrance, often baffles visitors and new residents who are looking for Town Center Park.
Multiple groups identified the troubling feature along with desires for increased walkability, more mixed use spaces — including higher density buildings with retail on the bottom and residential upper levels — and a redistribution of activities from around the Fred Meyer complex to the Town Center area to reduce traffic and bypass the Interstate 5 interchange congestion.
The children's group also presented a list of youth desires, including a skatepark, pool, jetpacks and other outdoor recreation.
Planning staff will take the suggestions from the event as well as from online surveys to compile a list of mutual goals. These goals are anticipated to be established in May.
Contact Wilsonville Spokesman reporter Claire Green at 503-636-
1281 ext. 113 or cgreen@