The new Town Center Master Plan took another step forward following a public open house Monday, June 26 at Clackamas Community College. A mix of city staff, Town Center Task Force members and a small handful of community members — totaling roughly 35 people — came together to give input on desirable amenities as well as design preferences.
Working with MIG, Inc., DKS Consulting Group and Leland Consulting Group, Wilsonville is in the process of updating its Town Center Master Plan for the first time since 1978. The city settled on a vision statement in May — which calls for Town Center serving as the hub and "heart of Wilsonville" — but is still in the design stages of the plan. Wilsonville Long-range Planning Manager Miranda Bateschell and MIG Lead Consultant Chris Beynon led Monday's meeting in the hopes of furthering information gathered from an earlier survey in May.
The pair led the group through two separate activities to collect data as well as show the community potential options. Bateschell said information from Monday's meeting will help in the creation of a second city-wide survey that will be released to the public in late July and remain open through Aug. 20.
"We have a great vision statement right now and the next step is seeing what that looks like on the ground," Bateschell said.
"This whole exercise is about what kind of community we want to live in for the future — what kind of community do we want for our kids, grandkids, and people yet to come?" Mayor Tim Knapp said before the open house. "What are the amenities, the social implications, what's the commerce, and how is it all going to work together?"
Beynon said it was clear from prior community input that residents want Town Center to be the focal point of Wilsonville, but that it should also be unique and stand out from neighboring cities.
"We heard from our kick-off event that it's hard to walk around Town Center; a lot of the existing businesses don't have great visibility and are kind of tucked back in strip center type hours, and I-5 is a barrier to cross that kind of splits the community," Beynon said. "We heard that there wasn't enough variety of restaurants and variety of stores in Town Center, and the idea that we don't necessarily want cookie-cutter. We want a place that feels unique to Wilsonville and who we are. We heard that — in terms of stores and restaurants — small, independent and local places are preferred to large chains."
Beynon displayed photos of different types of bike lanes and storefront designs to gauge their opinions. Audience members used clickers to vote on their preferences. Popular opinions included the topic of bike lanes, with 48 percent of people saying they wanted more bike lanes and 32 percent voting that it was worth considering. Participants preferred a sidewalk that included a separate walking and biking path, however, with 68 percent voting "I really like it."
In terms of parks and plazas, the audience was particularly interested in nature integration and green spaces — 74 percent said they really liked the idea and 20 percent said it was worth considering — and also wanted multigenerational activities like outdoor table tennis and chess (73 percent voted "I really like it").
While the group was mostly like-minded on slides shown by Beynon, there was some minor disagreement about the idea of food carts in Wilsonville. Altogether, 34 percent voted "I really like it," compared to 37 percent for "worth considering" and 26 percent who said "I don't like it." Some felt that food carts were good for local business-minded people while others thought food carts as a whole are a trend that will soon go out of style.
While the information was helpful, Beynon said his group won't take feeback as a representation of the entire community. The open house meeting was meant to show community members potential options and ways in which Wilsonville can util-ize the 100-acre Town Center area.
"The more information we gather the better we're able to define what makes Wilsonville Wilsonville," Beynon said.
Following the interactive polling, open house participants broke into small groups to create their ideal town center using a map that was to scale. The activity helped citizens get a sense of how the various design aspects they enjoy work in terms of space, as well as providing additional information for MIG and city staff.
"That activity allows us to see where people would put buildings and how tall they'd want them, and then there are mobility factors too, like what people want bike lanes to look like on the roads," Bateschell said. "It's a chance for them to see what this all could actually look like on a map of Town Center."
Following the meeting, Bateschell and her staff will now focus on preparing their next survey, which is expected to go live on the city's website July 28.