Three cities have been recognized for their efforts in revitalizing their downtown areas, receiving top Excellence on Main Street awards as members of the Oregon Main Street program.
Beaverton, Tigard and Hillsboro all received one or several of the annual awards distributed by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department.
A total of 21 businesses, projects, partners and people were recognized by this year's awards.
Among those was Beaverton's Lionheart Coffee Co., owned by Lauren and Ben Reese, who received one of only two Business Heroes awards.
"At the start of the pandemic, Lionheart switched focus from pastries and beverages and began to operate as a food resource center," the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department said in a news release announcing the local awards. "They collected community donations and made free lunches providing over 12,000 meals to people in need."
The coffee shop, which has Beaverton locations both on Southwest Watson Avenue and Southwest Scholls Ferry Road, partnered with the city government to create a downtown Dining Commons, which closed off some streets and created outdoor dining spaces during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition, Lionheart also assisted Hannah, the 11-year-old daughter of a neighboring business owner, in aiding her in her efforts to clean up downtown Beaverton, setting up a social media account to coordinate a program called Hannah's Helpers.
Also, both Beaverton City Hall and the Beaverton Downtown Association received an Outstanding Public Private Partnership Award, given in part for their work during the pandemic, providing flexibility for restaurants to use on-street parking spaces and private parking lots for expansion of dining areas. In addition, the award recognized the city for awarding the Beaverton Downtown Association with a $10,000 grant that allowed the association to provide funding for two new wall murals, six new sidewalk murals and nine new potted planters for the Dining Commons.
"The city, BDA, and local businesses had been working for years to transform downtown into a true destination when the pandemic hit," said Beaverton Mayor Lacey Beaty in a statement reacting to the award. "Pressing a giant pause button would have been easy and understandable. But instead everyone doubled down, leaning in together to come up with creative solutions to keep businesses open and accessible, and provide for those who were struggling. Our City Council stepped up and honored the calls of the people."
Meanwhile, Beaverton's neighbor to the south was honored with an Outstanding Special Project award for its "Building Our New Landscape." Tigard provided funds for a large paint-by-numbers-type mural, which was created last spring on the front of Main Street Stamp and Stationery. The Tigard Downtown Alliance partnered with artist Emily Lux to create the massive mural, which consisted of individually creating 27 panels of artwork and installing them on the retail building.
Lux, a Beaverton High School art teacher, created the mural with the help of more than 300 community members in a location previously described as "drab, blighted and avoided."
"Since installation, peripheral improvements have (begun)," the news release stated. "The immediate landscaping is weeded and flowers planted with plans to improve the adjacent seating area. … The mural is a reminder that when they work together, they are stronger despite their differences."
Hillsboro, the county seat and largest city in Washington County, also received an Excellence on Main Street award. The city won both an Outstanding Special Projects award and a Volunteers on Main award.
That first award went to the Literary Pollinator Garden project in downtown Hillsboro, designed and implemented by Lazar Isakharov, a Glencoe High School junior.
Isakharov, with help from the Hillsboro Downtown Partnership, recruited volunteers to create a new garden consisting of nine different planter beds. Those beds featured not only native plants and nonnative cultivars, but were also accompanied by literary quotes in a garden that provides a food source and habitat for pollinating insects.
"It now serves as an educational tool and is the backdrop of new and future projects, including a rain barrel demonstration site and self-led activity for kids to paint and place themed rocks in the garden," stated Oregon Main Street.
Receiving the Volunteers on Main award was Kipperlyn Sinclair, who has served on the Hillsboro Downtown Partnership board and a variety of committees.
"One of the products of Kipperlyn's leadership was HDP's Idea Sharing process and the visual diagram that outlines the process," the release stated. "When the pandemic hit, she hung handmade tags outside of each retail shop and restaurant to lift the spirits of business owners."
Sinclar also created the Wishing Tree, which informed the community about "meaningful participation in community activities that build engagement across the city's diverse communities," according to a Hillsboro city spokesperson.
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